At what age did the answer, “I’m sorry, I can’t do that, I’m too big,” become acceptable? As I observe kids at play, whether pretending to have a tea party indoors or climbing the jungle gym outside, I’ve realized that that’s all I’m doing, observing! When I get asked to join in my excuse always resembles that generic answer, “I’m too big”, which really is a mask for, “I can’t,” or, “I won’t try.”
Missing out on playing for too long has caused my joints to stiffen and my imagination to recede. Even if I want to engage in play now I’ve been out of the game for so long that it takes some time to loosen up and get everything moving again. It’s easier to offer an excuse than it is to try. And the problem is, the longer I sit on the sideline and give excuses I start to believe them. I begin to believe that I’ve reached an age where I just can’t play the game and take risks along the way.
At some point in adulthood, I realized that I had never broken a bone, a normal rite of passage in childhood. In the beginning, I thought of it as a source of pride but the longer I contemplate it I’ve realized that maybe I’ve always been making excuses to not push myself too hard and be content to sit on the sidelines. My fears held me back from climbing a little higher, making it the whole way across the monkey bars, jumping from the tallest tower, immersing myself so fully into a pretend character or singing out the loudest because I might look like a fool.
I envy my friend’s daughter who defies her mom’s cautions and keeps climbing as high as the tree will allow her and beyond. I envy the little girl next door who doesn’t care that girls aren’t supposed to wear dinosaur shirts or like superheroes over princesses. She came home with a broken elbow yesterday because even though she’s in kindergarten and the monkey bars are “too high” she tried anyway. She’s going to get a blue cast and her mom is going to draw a Captain America shield on it. I bet when she gets it off she’s going to be right back up there on those monkey bars.
I marvel at the spunk these kids have and wonder if, or hope, perhaps can I gain a bit of risk-taking back in my life? Big dreams keep popping into my head and they scare me. I hesitate to say them out loud and share them because it would make them real. But I can’t help but think what if, and my heart beats a little faster. Why not me? Why can’t I do it? Because I believe excuses instead of the truth.
As I’ve experienced the awakening of my soul in the last year I have been able to embrace God’s love deeper and deeper. I believe that the deeper we experience God’s love the more we’ll be able to risk because in that deep love we discover our true self. Our true self is, of course, the truth and it will push out all those excuses and lies that hold me back. The more I sit with God, think about him every moment of the day, the more I will know him. The more I know him, I will know his love and that love will become my being as well. My identity will transform into love and be able to take on any risk that comes my way.
God is big and vast and we will never contain him. As we join him in the work of his creating it will be scary at times because it is as limitless as him and require us to risk it all. But as we jump off the cliff, eyes wide open, we know we’re falling into him so the hard work and sacrifice and embarrassment and “broken bones” and setbacks that we’ll encounter along the way will be nothing more than knowing God more, loving him more, becoming our true self.
Where is your identity grounded? In excuses or love? What work is God inviting you to experience with him, together? Are you holding back from being with him because the risk seems too great? Have you gone outside and played today?