One of the lessons I’m learning with each new baby step I take—as I walk through fears and doubts—is that the steps I find most frightening are the same ones that lead to a wonderful and exhilarating sense of accomplishment. Yet, as soon as I successfully master one task or life goal, another challenge soon arises.
If we look back carefully over our lives, enormous risk taking is not uncommon. When young, we pluck up the courage for our first kiss, our first slow dance, our first serious relationship, our first real job, our first move away from home, and so on. We don’t necessary call these changes “risks.” We just boldly go forth as each grand adventure presents itself to our rapidly shifting landscape.
Somewhere along the way, as we grow older, we start to believe that change is bad and risk means potential ruin. Likely, we have accumulated some real life experiences with loss and hurt that now take a front seat in our thinking. When considering whether to live out our dreams—or wondering what our dreams even are—we may conjure up all sorts of worries about losing our current place of comfort and security. We fret about possible horrible outcomes. We delay and procrastinate because we don’t feel ready or we don’t think we’re worthy or we don’t know how to do what it is we want to do.
There’s nothing wrong with comfort and security. There’s also nothing wrong with pursuing passions and dreams—despite fears. Comfort and security can come in the form of confidence that if you fail, you are capable of getting up and trying again. Comfort and security can come from faith that Spirit will see you through. Comfort and security can come from friends who encourage you to put your gifts out in the world. The real risk is not losing comfort and security. The real risk is not trying at all.
Recently, my younger daughter auditioned for a high school play, Seussical. She is not going for a lead role, and she has not had any drama classes. She just thinks it would be fun to participate. As adults, it might be helpful for us to remember that creativity and risk taking can be fun. Writing my first book (Traveling Spirit) is a huge feat for me. It took me years to get to a place where I finally just sat down and wrote, with passion. Doing so has been incredibly enjoyable and fulfilling. Now, when I am asked to speak about the book, I have to walk through fears of public speaking. Taking such risks is the only way I know to move forward in life … one baby step at a time.
Any worthy endeavor in life requires some degree of risk. It takes risk to love. It takes risk to give freely of the heart. It takes risk to live authentically in a world that wants to put people in tight boxes with small labels. It takes risk to live fully. It takes risk to live your dream. But the greatest risk, always, is not taking those risks that lead to your true happiness.
What risks are you willing to take for yourself? What risks are you willing to take for loved ones? What risks are you willing to take for joy?
“Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!”
Diana J. Ensign, JD, is a contemporary author writing in the field of spirituality. Diana’s book, Traveling Spirit, is available now. She is one of the panelists for the November 7, 2013, Spirit & Place event, The Risk of Pursuing Your Passion. The event is free and open to the public. It will be held at the First Mennonite Church, 4601 Knollton Rd, Indianapolis, IN, 46228. Doors open at 6:30 pm, event begins at 7:00 pm.