What I’m going to write about today doesn’t feel beautiful. It feels scary, and uncomfortable, and really frustrating. And in fact it’s something I wish I could eliminate from my life all together, because it makes my stomach hurt and tears come to my eyes. Risk. Isn’t that a nasty four letter word? In light of our recent circumstances, risk seems to be a consistent undertone in decision making. So this is my effort to reclaim that little word and say, ” Hey you, you RISKY situation you, I see you and I’m going to do it anyways.”
I think, when I was in elementary school, my teachers would often tell my parents, “Katie doesn’t take many risks.” I guess that personality trait stuck with me and continues to be in my blood, my character make up. I like to play it safe, assess a situation, and see all the possible outcomes before making a decision. I’ll usually make a decision after taking some time to calculate the risk, and the benefits too. I’ve been known to do cost analysis, make pro/con lists, weigh the options. But, surprise, God isn’t working that way in my life right now. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
This week we made the decision for Dylan to take a part time job. No more unemployment benefits, and no guarantee that there will be enough hours in the workweek to make ends meet. A scary risk. But I am trusting in a wide open door where an interview and job offer came easy, and in the hopes that this may lead to new connections, new opportunities, and perhaps something else. They say it is better to be working. That it is easier to find a job when you have a job. Ugh…please help me to remember this. It is so easy to see the potential negatives in a risky situation rather than the positives.
We took another huge risk this week in that we finally set a date for our wedding! This risk, this one is exciting, it’s one I’ve been waiting for for quite awhile. But doesn’t the big MARRIAGE feel like it has a huge risk too. In my generation, half of our parents are divorced, and there are so many things that can go wrong. Wedding planning alone, on a small non-profit salary budget with the help of our parents, feels risky. Picking a venue that fits 200 people feels risky. What if it rains, what if its windy, and what if I get too overwhelmed by all those wedding decisions? Because I am not the girl who cares about those Chivali chairs. Or whatever they are called.
About a year ago I remember I participated in a group conversation where we were talking about risks we had taken. The context was risks “at-risk” youth take – at risk of what? I’m not sure I like that term. Most people’s responses leaned towards negative risk behaviors, stupid things kids had done in high school, drinking too much, driving a car with their eyes closed. The facilitator redirected the dialogue mid-conversation and asked us, “Why does society always think risk taking is bad? What are some good risks you took?” And I think that is the perspective I am hoping for here. Yes, there is a risk in not knowing for sure where that pay check is going to come from. And yes, in this day and age, marriage is maybe one of the biggest risks I will ever take in my life. But I know this. I love Dylan and I wouldn’t want another life partner. We are going through tough stuff now, and maybe it won’t get easier. But at least we will be together. And maybe we will drain our bank account for a four hour celebration because we want to get married and I’m kinda sick of waiting for that perfect moment where we say ahh, now the situation is great – let’s move ahead. I am not sure it’s going to arrive and if I take this approach, I might be waiting forever.
I came across this quote today – they say Brad Pitt said it, I’m not quite sure – but it goes like this, ” A family is a risky venture, because the greater the love, the greater the loss. That’s the trade off, But I’ll take the risk.” Oh, that nasty four letter word. When I care about people, when I want success, when I wait around for clear answers, there is risk that I may get hurt and lose it all. That loss is perhaps a real consequence, but I want to live in the moment and continue to hope for something better. There is beauty in the potential positive outcomes of risk, and the learning opportunity in the negative consequences of risk. And beauty in me being vulnerable and saying, “this kinda sucks.” This trusting stuff is risky business… but what’s the alternative?