I dont know about you, but when I am tired, overwhelmed and a little insecure I am more likely to hide. I am more likely to build a wall around me. I am more likely to take the easy option. I retreat in myself. I let the echoes of lies reverberate around my head. I allow myself to lose the ground of my journey I have gained over the years.
I can remember the first time I went to church for myself. A friend invited me to a youth service she was involved in when I was 16. I can remember where I sat. I can remember how I was feeling and I can still remember the emotion I felt when I heard my friend read out this poem in the service.
“To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach for another is to risk involvement.
To expose your ideas, your dreams,
before a crowd is to risk their loss.
To love is to risk not being loved in return.
To live is to risk dying.
To believe is to risk despair.
To try is to risk failure.
But risks must be taken, because the
greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
The people who risk nothing, do nothing,
have nothing, are nothing.
They may avoid suffering and sorrow,
but they cannot learn, feel, change,
grow, love, live.
Chained by their attitudes they are slaves;
they have forfeited their freedom.
Only a person who risks is free.”
Looking back, I can see that God was talking right to me. I look back 12 years and see a shadow of who I am today. I was afraid. I was ashamed. I was hiding. God was telling me to step out and RISK. To risk being known rather than keeping people at arms length. To risk believing good things instead of accepting the lies. To risk being loved rather running in fear rejection.
My fears are still there. I still have to quiet the words in my head. I still have to remind myself of the words in this poem. I dont want to be a person who does not learn, or feel, or change, or grow, or love. I want to live life to the full.
I now know that God bridges the gap between my step of faith into the unknown when I take a risk. I know He is a God who honours the brave and courageous. He breaks the chains of those who refuse to be enslaved. He accepts us and loves us even when those risks dont work out. Through Him, stepping into the unknown, risking, is safe.
I have this poem up in my classroom and I have had to print it out several times for students who start copying it out when they are supposed to be listening to me! These arent usually students who are “into” poems but I think it speaks to their heart. As it has continued to speak to mine. It reminds them that there is a choice we make through life. A choice to take the easy road, to hide our true selves or a life where we are free. I hope for people to choose freedom. To be so deep in the knowledge that they are loved and accepted that they risk showing themselves. And in doing so find a place of peace whilst staying in a habit of risk.