I picked such a word because of my struggle with boldness. And since courageousness is basically the antithesis of such a struggle, it just seemed like a fun combo deal. Like Happy Meals.
When it comes to boldness, my life can effectively be split into two halves. I was a total coward pre-2004. As for my life post-2004…well, I’m working on it.
Pre-2004: To Boldly…No
I’m not the biggest fan of high school. In Struggle Sundays past, I’ve written about fear and shame — toxic roots planted in high school, roots I’m still weeding all these years later. I desperately sought attention and yet took solace in the shadows.
A successful day in high school was scoring the top grade and surviving criticism of my acne or my quietness or my awkwardness and racing home to refuel for yet another day of the same old survival mode.
Yeah. I’d rather never revisit my high school years.
I often retreated and took minimal risks until 2004 — my senior year of high school. Eventually I guess I’d just had enough, because when I hit my final year of high school, my fearful shameful introverted self finally decided to be a little more, well, courageous.
Post-2004: To Boldly Go
Are you ready for this insane list of risks I took my senior year?
- I attended the homecoming football game. A basketball game too.
- I joined my classmates on our senior trip to New York City.
- I suited up at my school’s awards banquet. That’s Christian school code for “going to prom,” minus the pregnancy-inducing act of dancing.
Maybe these “risks” seem silly to you. Perhaps you scoff, But those are all so…simple!
Yeah, probably for you. Probably for most. I know I’m messed up.
When I hit my senior year, I committed to a bold mindset of stepping beyond my comfort zone. Of doing things I’d never get another chance to experience beyond those hallowed high school halls. I wanted to end my fearful shameful high school career on some level of positive remembrance.
I haven’t opened my senior yearbook since I graduated, but I still remember classmates signing it with positive comments about my “stepping out” and “breaking out of my shell.” That makes me smile; I’m so glad I did.
Post-2011: To Boldly Keep Going
Before my YouthWorks summer started, my area director asked her staff members to write down a word on an index card. A word she could pray over us throughout the summer.
My word was boldness. I wanted to experience a bold summer. And while I cried tears of desperation on a near weekly basis, I think I accomplished said boldness.
- I spoke on a stage before nightly gatherings of youth.
- I connected with ministry contacts twice and thrice my age.
- I opened up the deep dark parts of my soul to fellow staff, people I’d only known for several weeks, sharing with them what I’d only told a half-dozen others in 24 years.
Now contrast that list with my list from high school, and even I’ll admit it’s significantly more significant. As the years progress beyond high school, I’m learning the importance of living with a bold mindset. The risks may intensify, but the subsequent payoff increases too.
Even though I’ve committed to a courageous mindset for 2012, I can already recount numerous instances in which I recoiled and was not very courageous.
- I didn’t reach out to someone. And then another someone.
- I put something else above Jesus.
worriedworry about my future.
We’re only 15 days into a 366-day year, and I’m not exactly batting 1.000 in the courageous department. Not even sure I’m cracking the Mendoza Line. But if you’re not into baseball metaphors, I feel as sorry for you as I do a Cubs fan.
It’s reassuring to look back on 2004 and 2011 and remember the rewards reaped in a risk-taking reality. I’m in the post-2004 and post-2011 phases, but I still need to commit to boldness on a daily basis.
I’ve lived life in the shadows for far too long already. I want to feel the sunshine, even if it means having to weather some storms along the way.
How about you guys? Does taking risks come naturally to you? How do you commit to a bold mentality?