All day long I having been mulling over the words of a book I’m reading:
Doubt, despair and disappointment are not only a reality of daily life, they are also the tools God uses to grow faith, hope, and love in us. If we run from what we fear or find displeasureable, we actually rob ourselves of the joy God intends for us to experience as we walk through our past, play with our future, and live now with new passion. (Dan B. Allender, “The Healing Path”)
This quote is so reminiscent of the belief I held as a young adult. I believed that real life was lived not in the comfortable middle ground of existence, but by embracing the extremes of life. I believed that the fullness of happiness, love and joy could only be experienced if you had also suffered great loss. That was what living really meant.
Living was not being safe and secure. That was to exist. To live was something infinitely more. And I wanted that “more.”
I have tested this belief to its core. Though it sounds great in theory, its application is so incredibly painful and difficult.
The little adage, “Be carfeul what you wish for” is aptly displayed in my life. We have known devastation in the loss of our daughter. We have known suffering in a multitude of ways that I will not go into. We have struggled with doubt and despair as the long road of suffering seemed to stretch on and on with no relief. The lure of safety and security was never stronger than in the last couple of years. And to give up, well, it has been a temptation.
And yet, I find the stirrings of something deep inside of me: a resonance with the quote above. Maybe, just maybe, I was onto something that I did not fully understand back then. Maybe, if I can embrace all the difficulty, I will find that the reward is everything I once believed it to be.
Difficulty, disappointment and even devastation are a part of life for everyone at one time or another. We tend to fight it. We avoid it when possible, and we run like hell to escape it when we can’t.
I certainly do not think we should go out looking for it. I am no masochist, but, maybe, to experience the fullness of life we really do need to open ourselves. Sometimes that embracing of life brings the incredible, such as falling in love. Other times it brings the pain, like the broken heart you are left with when someone leaves.
But truly, we can never know those highs without opening ourselves to the risk of experiencing the lows.
Years ago I had a poem published that talks about this very thing. I have lived this poem in the fifteen years since I wrote it. Time and again I had my heart and my hopes dashed and it has been an effort of will to keep my heart open despite the losses I have been faced with. Sometimes I have succeeded, other times I have closed myself off to the possibility of what might have been possible because the risk left me too fearful.
Lately, I have found myself at a similar crossroads. I find old poem is inspiring me once more today.I can give in when faced with all the defeats I have encountered or I can try, one more time and one more after that.
I hope this poem might encourage you as it encourages me. It is titled “RISK.”
Would life call me Fool
or merely brave,
this soul that alights to the
spires of hope?
Is it folly to chance,
and so to perish,
with Risk’s failed attempt to fly?
The lofty heights of love’s aspiration
call braver souls than I,
yet, I and not they,
from the mountain’s height plunge
in the hope that love,
as a sweet breath of wind,
will catch these wings
and so lift me to the spheres of fabled love.
And yet, not once, nor even twice,
have I plunged to the rocky crags below.
The wind has failed,
these wings have faltered
and I have landed far below.
There I’ve labored for a time
resting the wounds of battered dreams,
entrenched in pain and mournful disillusionment,
so sure these wings were beyond repair.
Yet time . . . it heals,
and Hope, though bruised
does not perish.
It is an immortal friend.
Pain dimmed, failure forgotten,
I rise to Hope again.
Failed attempts do not hinder
the soul determined to fly.
No matter the number of failures,
Love’s Fool abandons itself once more,
and those moments of flight
far outshine the gloom
of our sometimes reality.
Oh! The hope that I might fly,
not for a moment,
but for a life,
calls this soul to the fearful friend Risk.
Hope outweighs wisdom’s fear,
and I abandon myself once more.
So, am I Fool, so to plunge
in the hope of a beautiful dream?
Perhaps, yes, perhaps it’s so . . .
yet I would rather be Love’s Fool
than be Fear’s forever slave.
For one of these times,
the wind may lift Hope’s wings
and perhaps, just perhaps,
I will fly.
And if not, the heights of Hope
hold far more luster for me
than the safety of earthbound
So, fool though I be,
I abandon myself once more,
for Risk is worth the prize.
If only, one day,
I might fly.