My wife and I had friends over the other day.
They brought their 6-year-old identical twin grandsons. These boys are full of life and courage; they reminded me of the awe and wonder of just plain living with appropriate reckless abandon. “Appropriate reckless abandon”. That sounds more like an oxymoron than a mantra for life, but let’s explore this a little.
Both boys love bugs. Yes, insects; they would race around our property digging up and overturning rocks and even the flagstone on our unfinished patio to see what crawling treasures they could find. It seemed one of their favorite things to do was to pick up that big carpenter ant or black beetle and interact with it. They would squeeze it a little with the thumb and forefinger of one hand while yelling “bite me beetle!”, trying to get it to bite the forefinger of their other hand. Then with delight they would proclaim when they had reached their goal, “it bit me, I felt it pinch me!”
I am in my 50’s now and I have never seen this specific brand of courage with bugs. I like bugs too. But I like to identify them and then leave them alone. I will take pictures or even illustrate them from time to time. But to engage and embrace that which can harm me, even a little, no thanks. Watching these boys was surprising and captivating for me! And it taught me at least two things.
First, I was reminded of how recklessly courageous I was as a kid. I had the faith to explore life like this once too. Maybe it wasn’t bugs, but it was other things. From jumping flimsy ramps on my bike, made with an old board and a pile of bricks, to not thinking twice about taking my first job away from home as a camp counselor. I have to ask myself, “do I have this appropriate reckless abandon today?”
Secondly, I am reminded of how fear robs us of experiencing life fully. How has my life been affected or even paralyzed by fear? Especially in a world full of racial tensions and culturally paralyzing pandemics, parenting 2 teenagers, dealing with tragedies in my own family and neighborhood, and more! How do I keep the passion for living which these 2 boys have in the middle of the chaos of this world?
Fear. It manifests itself in many forms in our lives. It can cause stress, make us anxious, depressed, phobic, and more. It can make us manic, delusional or cause us to consider self-harm or even suicidal thoughts. It causes people to hide from life: in entertainment, abuse of substances, flee from their jobs, friends and family, etc. It can cause one to believe horrible things like they “don’t matter”, and “life is hopeless”. Simply put, fear is destructive.
No matter how it shows up, fear has one job.
Fear’s job is to simply paralyze someone. If fear can get you to stop something…anything productive, meaningful, life-giving, etc. it has won. It wants to stop life in its tracks!
If fear accomplishes its goal, it will stop you from accomplishing your goals. It will arrest your progress in living life to its potential.
But, you were born with potential. You grew with potential and you will have potential until your last breath on this planet. Fear’s lie is to prove otherwise to you and to stop you from living life up to your potential.
Whatever fear is trying to accomplish in your life, you get to choose who is in charge. You or fear. I know, easier said than done. I am a man who must combat fears of my own while navigating through a world culture of stark uncertainty and fear’s influence around every corner. When I desire peace and comfort, I feel blitzed by all that junk that seems to be pushing its way into my personal and family life.
A situation can feel hopeless, but we are not powerless. There are many steps we can take to face and overcome fear. Choose this day to not let fear have power over you. Appropriate reckless abandon means grabbing those things in life that are ours to own and manage. To risk getting pinched by it but daring to face it anyway. I am a therapist and a youth pastor, a parent and a husband, etc. All of these things bring scary elements. Every day I have to ask myself, “What step can I take in a courageous direction and through those things which can be scary to me?”
Bear Grylls said, “being brave isn’t the absence of fear. Being brave is having that fear and finding a way through it.”
Take back that power in your life. Sometimes it is best to pick up the bug. We will realize its bite isn’t as big a pinch as we may have thought.