More than a board game
Some folks really dig risk. They get off on the gamble, the adrenalin-pumping uncertainty that keeps them jittering on the edge.
Most folks, however, prefer a sure thing. Especially one that guarantees a good payoff.
You know…kind of like a gum ball machine. Put in your nickel and out pops a shiny colorful gum ball. You never have to put in anything other than a nickel, and you never have to worry that it’s going to pop out a vacuum cleaner repair manual or a baby ostrich.
Only nickels, only gum balls.
Life is not like a gum ball machine, however. Especially when it comes to dealing with the other humans God put on this planet.
Seriously…have you noticed how weird they are?
I mean…not you or me, of course. Just…them. They’re weird. And difficult. And complicated. And complicating.
Oh, and in case you’ve not noticed, they bite.
Ok, so maybe me and you too, sometimes. Or a lot of the time.
Loving people is a risk. Trusting people is a risk. Letting people be themselves is a risk. You might get a gum ball. Or you might get an velociraptor whose blood sugar is too low and who just tromped through a mound of fire ants.
If you get an angry velociraptor, you may be tempted to shut down all future interactions which could potentially open the door to velociraptors. You will want to spray for fire ants, and you’ll probably make some rules about how to handle velociraptors safely, and what potential velociraptors are and are not permitted to do. You’ll likely do all you can to minimize the pain of another encounter with an enraged velociraptor, and in the name of wisdom you will create relational distance between you and all velociraptors, potential velociraptors, and anyone or anything that reminds you of velociraptors.
You certainly won’t risk whole-hearted love with a velociraptor. Because of the biting and whatnot.
I’m not talking about ignoring boundaries with people who struggle to behave. I’m talking about a lifestyle of self-protection in order to prevent feeling pain and grief. I’m talking about making excuses for not loving and then spiritualizing that choice.
You may be able to justify it in your own mind, but Jesus won’t be buying that bill of goods. He knows a little about biblical era velociraptors, and He knows about modern ones, too. And He sees beyond the teeth.
If you want to be free of the possibility of pain, you also have to lay down your capacity for love and joy, and you have to limit the freedom of those around you.
That should be an alarming thought to you.
I saw The Giver last night. It got me thinking about risk, the risk of avoiding risk, and the cost of control and perceived safety. I recommend the movie, but prepare to think about the price we pay in order to protect ourselves from pain.
You see, true love and beauty are birthed in freedom and risk…and pain.
The deeper your capacity to love, the deeper your capacity to feel pain.
So that person who betrayed you? Or that person who let you down after you poured your heart and soul into their wellbeing? And that person who chose deception instead of truth? Or what about that person who chose to dishonor you after you were nothing but honoring toward them?
What you choose to believe about them will determine if your capacity to love will grow or shrink.
If you choose to open yourself to pain by opening yourself to the risk of loving well, know that you have a Healer who is willing to pick up the pieces every time it goes poorly. And sometimes it will go poorly.
After all, velociraptors don’t domesticate well.