What I've gained (and lost) from taking a risk

I used to be someone who loved the comfort of a predictable and safe life. In fact, anything beyond that caused me to be fearful. From sticking with tried-and-true chicken strips and macaroni and cheese while eating out, to staying close to home in college, I felt like I needed stability through predictability, because it was something I could control.

I've learned something about myself: When I feel like I can control things, I'm more comfortable. When my routine is stable, I'm relaxed. But as much security I might feel through controlling my surroundings, a complacent life is boring to me.

I've come to discover that by taking risks, life is that much richer, that much exciting, that much more adventurous and definitely more rewarding. Because if I hid behind all of the "what ifs," and "buts" and "I'm not sure I can do this," and "it's probably too late," I wouldn't be where I am today and have what I do.

What I've gained from taking a risk:

  • My husband, because of confiding in him on a night when we were just beginning to date. It was a transforming conversation between us that ultimately bonded us together through God's redeeming love.
  • My job. I completely quit my previous field of work cold turkey to take a leap of faith down the path God has called me to, and I haven't looked back since. 
  • Traveling the world. Flying absolutely terrifies me. Unsanitary foods terrify me. Getting mugged terrifies me. But none of those fears are strong enough to hold me back from the intense bliss that wandering through a foreign country, halfway around the world, that my soul experiences. 
  • Our experience with hosting an exchange student. Would you believe that we received more, "Don't do it!"'s than we did "Go for it!"'s? We strongly considered not hosting and what a sorry mistake that would have been. Hosting an exchange student for a year has been such an enriching experience for us and has taught us so much about each other, family, and cultures around the world.
  • An unforgettable trip to Costa Rica. In the jungle. Sleeping near cockroaches and poisonous snakes. Soaring 3,000 feet in the sky on a zip line. Kayaking in shark-infested waters. Memories to last a lifetime: Enough said. 
  • A successful and growing photography business, soon to become nationally featured. {!!!} If I was told five years ago that I would be operating a strong and successful photography business on my own, I would have laughed. I always dreamt of that, but didn't have enough confidence in myself to think it would ever happen to me. But then a few years ago, I thought, "Why not?" Why can't I become a photographer and do what I love the rest of the year when I'm not teaching?" I walked through open door after open door, when the enemy tried to tell me otherwise, and took huge risks upon risks when doing so. What I've gained is experience, confidence, a niche, a solid business, new friends, partners, memories, and so much more. {and in a competitive, artsy city filled with thousands of creative geniuses, nonetheless...}
  • A home that we love. It wasn't easy for us to purchase our first home, but we didn't give up. Adversity was in our way, but we stood our ground, committed for several months until it finally happened. We adore it, we're thankful and blessed, and we know that we had a lot at stake if this risk fell through. 

What I've lost from taking a risk:

  • Money. When I quit marketing, I took a huge pay cut. Everyone knows that teaching barely pays the bills, but the intrinsic reward I gain is far greater than any paycheck I'll ever receive. So I'll probably never own a $500,000 home, a boat, or a Lexus... but I will be investing my life into something with purpose and meaning. 
  • Money. Because traveling is expensive, but oh so worth it. 
  • Money. You can't make money without spending money! I have to invest in my business and so start-up costs were heavy early on when I started my company. 
  • Money. Down payments on our home, monthly expenses, maintenance, etc. That stuff can all add up. 
  • Money. Children cost money, too. :) 

Considering the only real thing I've "lost" in taking the risks above was money, I'm reminded of the parable of the buried talents in which the three men take different approaches towards stewarding their money. Two invested their talents and gained even more, and one man buried it away because he was afraid of losing it. The master rewarded the men who were good stewards of their money, but scorned the man who hid it away and did nothing with it. Timothy and I have always had the philosophy of praying for wisdom over our finances, but also not being afraid to invest it into meaningful things-- and many of those things are risks. 

In our lives, the risks have far outweighed the rewards. In every circumstance above, I could have turned into fear or complacency or "I can't do this," or "I don't know how," and instead lost out on some incredible blessings. Instead, I chose to face some fears head-on and choose to live in faith towards the path God called us to and believe that what lied behind those doors was something bigger and greater than what we could imagine. 

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