What Will Happen If I Don’t At Least Try?



When I was younger and facing all the big ticket decisions—like do I want to have children?—there were some questions that always helped me.

How will I feel if I wait too long for things to be perfect, and it’s too late? Is this something I want to have done by the end of my life? How will I feel looking back on this choice? What if I cling too hard to what is and don’t leave any space for what might be?

I was so much younger then! But I think I still need to listen to that young woman’s willingness to let go and leap, even if it meant leaping over comfort and certainty to grasp the unknown. Of course, I don’t always land well with these leaps. I’ve plummeted to earth, scraped skin off and bruised my heart. Sometimes just stepping off the curb has resulted in a hard landing that left me raw.

Staying put would have looked a lot tidier, and left fewer scars.

Recently, some seriously negative feedback in both my writing and personal life blindsided me. I wanted to shrink back and give up. But I am blessed now to own the questions of my past. I remembered the abandon with which I could fling myself into the future and trust that God would catch me. The flinging was always worth it. No matter what.

I remembered what I had learned, and learned it again.  When I purposefully uncover my heart and seek to move forward with a strong goal, there’s always going to be someone who throws a negative response at me. But that doesn’t mean I should stop. That same question serves me well, again. What will happen if I don’t complete this? If I don’t at least try?

What will my sons see? Or that person following close behind on the same road, what will she see? Will they see me willing to grow and go over the very long and bumpy haul? Or will they see me give up, letting other people’s opinions stop me?

I wanted to stop exposing myself to disappointment ever again. But instead, I  watched my sweet husband string up colorful lights and buy fancy chocolate by the basket-load. I read considerate texts from friends, and I stepped out again. I’m so grateful for the net that holds me, the faithful hands that push me back out there.

And glory upon glory met me, in the form of a kind reviewer I’d lost touch with and a native storyteller sharing her words in front of a backdrop. The backdrop was a place I loved in childhood and haven’t seen since. The storyteller was the perfect person, with the perfect gift, sharing it freely in front of the most perfect, stormy shore. My soul filled up with swirling, life-giving water.

I stepped out after the event to darkness and bare winter branches, now ablaze with thousands of lights, red and white and multi-colored torches blazing, and a dog who licked my face all over, thrilled to have me back. Oh, I have received—grace upon undeserved grace.

Let us dance together into this new year, friends, wherever we are on the road, whether striding or stumbling. Let us stumble forward together. One day, we will find ourselves carrying home our sheaves with us, the harvest of those who faithfully plant the seed, water with tears in time of drought, continue to tend the ground when it’s hard, reach out their weary arms and are stunned to gather in a bountiful harvest.

For those who do not give up—here, there or in Heaven—there is beauty upon beauty. Wishing you tender hope for the new year, and a deep well of water.

Restore our fortunes, Lord, like streams in the desert.
Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.

 from Psalm 126, a song of ascents.