She disappears, diving in the deep. Five seconds pass, and then, pop, her uncombed curly locks bob up out of the water. She step, step, leaps up the adult-sized ladder. She takes a slappy semi-run to the diving board line on the gritty path, and water pools around her little feet as she waits to go again. On the board again, a grin widens her face, she wiggles a semi-excited hip-wave to my mom and then woosh, back in. All the way on the other end of the big high school pool, I am wishing I was as risky as my little sister. I scissor-kick, my wrinkly fingers gripping the ledge.
My sister was two years younger than me and two levels above me in swimming lessons. For a long time, I used this core memory to confirm I was the less adventurous sister. But He’s using it to show me more about what was at play here and the danger of comparison when learning to take risks.
Risk is a situation where there’s possibility of loss or danger (even perceived danger, I would argue). I felt bad at the time for not taking the risk of getting to that diving board. But there are two hooks of comparison important to expose:
- Those dives weren’t risk to my sister. I was romanticizing her taking on danger, but she was a natural swimmer (part fish, really). There was no perceived danger there for her. She was just having fun (which is great). But I started to believe the lie that I should be more brave because of my assumption.
- God wasn’t calling me to be a swimmer. He hadn’t placed dreams of swimming in my little seven year-old heart. I got mixed up in comparing my own identity with someone else’s. And from that, I labeled myself as less adventurous. And labels are limiting.
If we get distracted by what we assume is a risk for someone else, we lose courage. And when we label ourselves as “not enough” based on others being who they are called to be, we are missing the risks God has to help usstep into our own destiny. And I’m sure the enemy loves that limiting labyrinth.
God usually uses risk when the person has a perceived danger that is limiting them from stepping fully into their destiny. Check out all the bible stories you can think of where God challenged the person with a risk, and I’ll bet you an Encounter Cup coffee that’s what was going on (Peter… Moses… Joshua… the rich man… the list goes on).
Just say I am in a season where He’s breaking off the fear of man in order for me to live even more authentically (because being authentic is a core part of what I carry– this is totally hypothetical, BTW.) My risk will involve situations where my perceived danger of having other people not like me will be challenged. My risk may be allowing myself to go off the grid during a maternity leave to achieve rest and joy even though I’m afraid I’ll be forgotten. It’s not surfing or deep-end diving, but it’s risk. It’s not selling all I have… but it’s letting go of being liked as an idol. It feels dangerous but leads to freedom and more of who I am in Him. What risk is He inviting you into? Put a post-it of Joshua 1:9 on your mirror to reduce anxiety as you say yes.
Let’s support each other in being risk-oriented people, and cheer each other on in how God is using personalized risk to release us, individually, and therefore collectively, into more. A great worship song to partner with these ideas is “Head to the Heart” by United Pursuit.