Have you heard of the story of the man who sold off all his possessions, abandoned family and friends, and traveled to Mongolia in the hopes of being miserable?
Of course you haven’t, because I made it up. Because no one sets off on a journey, goes out on a limb, or tries something new with the intent of gaining nothing.
But I’ll tell you what this story represents. It’s our modern-day understanding of risk. The very basic definition of risk, is something that involves danger or somehow exposes yourself to harm or loss. And oddly, risk is also the same impetus that many times causes directional, philosophical, and radical shifts in our lives.
But I wonder how or rather why we’ve allowed a word with such pessimism and danger to be so closely associated with our first steps toward progress, excitement, adventure, meaning, understanding, and love?
Why is it that every time we think about stepping out of our comfort zone we immediately think of what we’ll lose, what we’ll have to sacrifice, or what we’ll suffer.
I look back at 2016 and wonder how radically different my life would have been had I taken the beaten path.
Before me, I had a door that I was prying to rip open. The words across that door were “Financial Security.” I was doing everything I could to pry it open when all the while there was another door right behind me thrown wide open. I could feel the sun shining through the door as I wrestled with a sandstorm of thoughts and worries.
I had graduated from a good college, had done well, and was ready to start being successful. In other words, I was ready to be a part of the safe and comfortable system. But all the while I could tell this wasn’t it. This wasn’t the next chapter of my life’s story.
Now before I tell you how my other option was living in Hawaii and traveling the world, it’s crucial to understand that this was not a part of my ten year plan. And that was not okay.
Almost in defeat, I decided to go on this crazy journey as part of a missions organization. I thought, it’s Hawaii, so why not? I had essentially resigned to what I thought was the optimal way and decided to go for Plan B.
It didn’t take long before I found a place I would call the closest thing on earth to heaven in my journal. And from there, I got to experience the most memorable, adventurous, and liberating journey of a lifetime. Not to mention, the friends scattered across the world who became brothers, the time in Nepal and Thailand, and the absolutely amazing depths I ventured into in my faith.
I look back at that time and think, “Risk? No. That wasn’t risk.” Because if I had paid enough attention, I would of have realized the label on that door that said, Freedom.
We as humans don’t venture into the world, tackle massive problems, or even act recklessly in the hopes of accomplishing nothing. It might be as flippant as wanting a rush of adrenaline or it could be as monumental as finding purpose in life. But all the chances we take in life, the scary, the daunting, and the seemingly impossible, it’s all because of the hope of something worth more.
Naturally, stepping out of our area of expertise and security will bring fears, anxieties, and practical obstacles inherent in risk, but the entirety of becoming vulnerable, experiencing something new, and going out on a limb is so much more than being open to attack.
Risk is not a wall we have to scale or a moat we have to jump over. Risk is a friend who dares you to become who you can be. Risk is a city that calls you to conquer it. Risk is God inviting you into the calling He has for you. Risk is your spouse saying you’re ready to start a family.
Risk is the door which once opened, will unleash a torrent of possibilities, opportunities, challenges, and meaning.
So take a look at the door in front of you. It might be the submit button on your computer screen or the pretty girl in the coffee shop. It might be the last $100 in your bank account or it might be the violin gathering dust. It might be saying sorry or it might be saying thank you. It might be all of these things or none of these at all.
But I know for certain that there’s a door in front of each and every one of you. There’s a place you want to go, a person you want to be, a way you want to feel, and guess what? The knob just needs a little turning.
Go ahead and rip off the letters R. I. S. K. that are planted across the door. Peel off the signs that say warning, fear, doubt, unknown, discomfort, useless, hopeless, and impossible.
And instead, reach into your back pocket. Do you feel it? It feels soft, a bit worn right? But it doesn’t hurt and it’s really thin. It’s a little crumpled up but don’t worry. It’s fully intact. You probably didn’t recognize it, but it was there the whole time.
Don’t be scared to unroll it. It has word that was written just for you, before eternity and much before you could ever doubt yourself. It’s the confession of every closed door you’ll have in this life. It’s the pull of fate, the encouragement of divinity.
But before you read it, I want you to promise me something. Promise me that you’ll put it on that door of opportunity in front of you. Promise me you’ll forget those deceiving, sarcastic lies, that you won’t try to pick up those heckling words of confusion and doubt and re-paste them on your door. Promise me you’ll look at your door and believe that HOPE awaits you on the other side.