Living is Risky Business

I’m not really a bucket list kind of girl. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE lists – to-do lists, grocery lists, check lists, and so on.

Safe lists.

Decidedly unrisky lists. 

Bucket lists are awesome. For other people. For a longtime, I’ve been content to hang on the sidelines and watch others check off amazing experiences. Scuba diving in some of the world’s most gorgeous locales. Ice hiking in Iceland. Climbing Machu Picchu and other breathtaking peaks. Swimming with pigs in the Bahamas. Parachuting. Running the New York City Marathon. Meditating in the Garden of Gethsemane.

As I have watched from afar, my friends and family are living some amazing lives. I’m not suggesting that “living” means you have to engage in a host of Pinterest-worthy adventures. I am, however, acknowledging that “living” does mean taking risks.

Here’s the rub – loss does a number of one’s ability to take risks. The greater the losses in number or depth or both – the less likely one is to take risks. When we put ourselves out there in big ways and small only to lose the dog, the job, the spouse, the house, or more – playing it safe starts to sound pretty good.

Therein lies the problem. Playing it safe will never be more than “pretty good.” It ain’t living. We can’t live from the sidelines watching others take risks.

Grief feeds us the lie that living can be put off until “eternity.” Well, eternity is now. Loss doesn’t have to hold us back. On the contrary, loss can be the catalyst that wakes us up to life.

Those who know me beyond the blogosphere know that I am not a risk taker. I am not the girl that you will see jumping out of a perfectly good airplane or off a bridge tethered by a questionable harness. I am the girl who organizes her grocery lists by columns that correspond with the store aisles – with her feet planted firmly on the ground. 

Yet, a couple of weeks ago, I took a risk. One so far outside my comfort zone that I’d have a hard time believing it real if I didn’t have pictures to prove it. While on family vacation, we all went paragliding. 

After being harnessed to a pilot and taking a few shaky steps along the side of a mountain, I found myself floating with nothing but over 4,000 feet of space between me and the ground below.

It was amazing. The experience was simultaneously calming and exhilarating. For a moment, I was certain that I could touch heaven from my front row seat.

While you need not take a literal leap of faith off the side of a mountain (though I do recommend that you at least give it consideration should the opportunity present itself), we all need to take that figurative leap of faith in our daily lives.

How often do we harness ourselves to our faith in God yet insist that we remain planted on the side of the mountain? Living means taking a few shaky steps into that space that God has reserved for each of our lives and trusting that He will keep us from crashing – even when it feels like the ground is coming at us much too quickly.

Dear Father – Help us to see that eternity is not a spot on a distant horizon. Remind us that this life is an integral part of our forever no matter how long or how short it may be. Interrupt our robotic rhythms. Awaken us to our life’s purpose – the thing (or things) that you’ve set out before us wherein we not only feel connected, but we reflect your love back into this little slice of eternal history. Let us each become living proof that this life – despite its challenges – is worth living. Let us each become living proof that Your Love and Your Will dominate over the forces that strive to steal our will to live. Give us the confidence to take those shaky steps trusting that You will pilot us through it all. Through your son, Jesus Christ, with the help of the Holy Spirit, this we pray. Amen!

Do you have a bucket list? What are your top 5 items? Don’t worry if they aren’t all about taking obvious risks. There are plenty of bucket list worthy items that require less obvious risk taking – for example, growing one’s faith in face of tragedy or waking up and going to work each day when mental or physical constraints hold us back.


2 thoughts on “Living is Risky Business

  • I enjoyed this post, Marie! Like you, I like all kinds of lists. While some people get anxious having a long list, getting things down on paper actually helps me relax. You’re right – bucket lists are a different animal. It’s a lot easier to add items to a bucket list than to actually execute them! For example, I’ve been trying to get Vicki to vacation in Europe – it’s been a decade since we’ve been overseas. Seems there was always something that got in our way. Then our daughter Katie (who you know) invited us to go with her this year, and – presto – that inspired us to overcome all the obstacles. We head out on Sunday. 😊

    Your advice to be willing – at least sometimes – to take a few risky steps is excellent. Sometimes that’s embarking upon a real adventure, like your paragliding outing. But it also could be something that only *feels* somewhat risky or makes us a little uncomfortable. I have old friends that I’ve been meaning to call and talk to for, well, decades. I know that once we got to talking, it would be easy, but it’s hard to take the initial step. Somehow I never find the right moment, and I just kick the can down the road, making it just a little harder to do next month. Your reminder to break out of inertia is a great reminder – thanks! dave cary

    Liked by 1 person

    • Safe travels! I want to hear about at least one adventure on the trip that is a little outside everyone’s comfort zone.

      And you make a great point. Sometimes walking off the side of a mountain is easier than picking up the phone.

      Tell Katie hello. I miss curling with you guys.


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