by Robyn Batts
The above quote has recently become one of my favorites. And if you know me at all, you probably think that’s a big fat joke because I love the harbor. I feel like I’m pretty good at a few different things, but one thing I am excellent at, even a master of, is living life safely and comfortably. I don’t take risks, not even small ones. I was always that girl at the skating rink going half a mile an hour around the outside, gripping the wall for dear life. I don’t do heights. I don’t do most things that involve a flying piece of athletic equipment. And don’t even ask me about my thoughts on space travel. (I know I’ll never have to go but, seriously astronauts? Zero gravity and no oxygen sounds like it’s worth it to you?) I think you’ve gathered that I’m a scaredy-cat. I have to tell you, I’ve always thought this was the way I was supposed to live. No risk. No stress. No problems. But in the last couple years or so, my thoughts on this have shifted. I’m realizing more and more that living a life like that…it’s not really living. And since I’ve been given this life, I’d like to live it.
So why is risk-taking an important and healthy practice?
1. It helps you grow.
In your bubble of comfort, you can stay safe and sound. But will you be growing more and more into the person God has created you to be? It's possible. But I think you were built for more. Moving to a new place demands and builds courage. Starting a new relationship requires vulnerability and will enable you to see yourself, the good and the bad, more clearly. These are difficult, scary ventures but taking that risk allows you to understand yourself better, and become increasingly more the person you want to be.
2. It makes you think.
Often times, the word risk draws up images of foolishness or even danger. The right kind of risk, however, is thought through a bit more. It requires a person to ask the question “Does the possibility of what could go right outweigh the fear of what could go wrong?” Which brings us to the next point…
3. It teaches you not to live out of fear.
For me, this is the hardest part. Nine times out of ten, I base my decisions on worries and anxieties that are entirely out of my control. I devote so much energy toward living life preventatively that I cannot take bold steps in any direction. I just stay put. This is NOT how we are called to live. Seize opportunities. Make brave decisions. Something can always go wrong, but when you live out of that fear, you keep yourself from experiencing the abundant life Jesus came to give you.
4. It shows you what you are capable of.
And you are capable of more than you realize, but you won’t be able to find out by sitting still. Some of the most impactful moments of believing in myself have emerged out of terrifying situations. Internships, mission trips, leadership positions--all things I tried to run away from but ultimately took on. These experiences constantly remind me I can do more than I give myself credit for. Taking on opportunities and challenges with a little bit of courage and a lot of faith will stretch your abilities, but will give you a richer view of your potential.
5. It requires you to trust God.
Nothing can drive us to trust God quite like uncertainty. Unfortunately, that’s also not usually our first response. In Romans 8, He tells us He works all things together for our good. No, that doesn’t mean He’s going to make everything come together the way you want it to. But it does mean He’s on your team and He is in control. When you step out of what is safe and familiar into new situations and places, you can only maintain strength and determination by trusting that He will provide it. And when you are in a place that intensely demands you trust the Lord, that is an incredible place to be.
So don’t stay in the harbor. Go take risks. This is not a call to abandon all reason and do whatever you want. Don’t be careless and irresponsible. But do trust that you are capable of incredible things, and also that you are not walking through life alone. I’m still learning how to do this myself. And I’ll be honest, I still haven't learned how to skate. But I’m willing to bet I’ll learn so much more if I let go of the wall and try.