When a thrill seeker plays it safe

Motion sickness is something I’ve never had to deal with.

My “stomach of steel,” as I call it, has taken on countless roller coasters, bumpy road trips, reckless boat rides and bungee jumping.

Yet as I hopped in the back seat of our family car to drive from Phoenix to Los Angeles and back again, my stomach churned endlessly. It continued to do so throughout the week as my family chaperoned me around during their visit to my summer home.

My pride was hurt and my patience frustrated as I sought ways to cope with this newfound nausea. Focusing on the music flowing from my earbuds became my lifeline.

Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus and my beloved Ronnie Radke took turns speaking peace to my troubled stomach as I counted down the hours, minutes till I was safely back in my sturdy dorm. I wanted out of that car.

It was the last night of my family’s visit that I leaned on the Lord to speak His peace to my body and mind. As I felt the wave approach me, I slipped in my headphones and quickly clicked my Hillsong Worship station, eager to escape the sloshing.

“Even when it’s hard to find the words, louder then I’ll sing Your praise.”

I fought back tears as the fears lurking in my mind’s shadows were flooded with light.

It’s no secret that I came into this summer out of a low place. So imagine my reaction when I received an email approximately two weeks before my departure alerting me of my role as team leader.

I frantically typed a slew of texts to my best pal from the Boaz Walmart cereal aisle as I fought to reign in my thoughts.

Why in the world would they choose me for this? They have no clue what I’ve just come out of. What if it all comes rushing back? I’m not strong enough for this; I’m not ready.

Looking back, I see my sense of adventure beginning to drain in that moment, slowly depleting to now.

Three weeks into my time in Phoenix, the days are passing us by so quickly. And, to be honest, I don’t feel like I’ve done much of anything.

I look around at my 13 teammates and see warriors for the King. Hearing their stories, knowing what they’ve been through and seeing them use that for His glory has been such a beautiful picture of His plan for humanity. I watch them take giant, faith-filled leaps into new conversations, trek their way into beautiful canyons of relationships and run full-speed with arms wide into caring gospel conversations with the people of Phoenix.

I watch them.

A spectator is something I’ve never been.

I love to be right where the action is, in the middle of the fun and chaos and excitement so I can be sure I don’t miss a thing.

From the moment I read that email notifying me of my leadership, I subconsciously stepped backward, right into the role of watchman.

For the first time in a long time I stepped away from the adventure. And every day since has been lived similarly: as a spectator. It’s exhausting.

Adventure is draining and hard and scary and risky and ever-changing; it is far from comfort. Yet it is right where I long to be, no matter how far I back away from it.

Leadership is draining and hard and scary and risky and ever-changing; it is far from comfort. I do not consider it my strength, especially not stepping into the role from such a shaky place. Yet it is right where God placed me, and it is good. It feels like motion sickness. It is new. It’s frustrating. It is adventure.

When I get overly frustrated, angry or overwhelmed by any other emotion, my initial reaction is to shut down. I don’t think or speak or act. I escape the situation, whether physically, mentally or spiritually, until I regain composure to handle it or it fizzles out on its own.

That isn’t an option here, now.

I couldn’t shut down when I was nudged into leadership via email.

I can’t shut down when I’m leading my team through difficult discussions, tense team meetings or a chaotic, ever-shifting schedule.

I can’t shut down when my college career comes to a close.

I can’t shut down when it’s time to move to a new city, to start my career, to take on the next big adventure.

I’ve allowed myself and my sense of adventure to be suppressed by fear. Fear of failure, fear of change, fear of distance, fear of loss.

I want the adventure–man, do I want the adventure–but I do not want the risk. I don’t want the possibility of loss.

I’m tempted to let my emotions and fears envelope me, to overwhelm me to the point of shutting down and running away to the safety of a spectator.

It’s hard to find words. Words of praise, words of encouragement, words of light. It’s hard to praise in these moments.

“… louder then I’ll sing Your praise.”

My prayers are filled with requests for adventures, for risks that will bring God glory. Yet, recently, when I find myself facing those risks, I shut down. I turn around. I spectate.

I’m done with that.

When it’s hard to find words, when it’s scary to push myself, when I’m petrified of failing, louder then I’ll sing His praise.

My prayer for you is that you will choose adventure. Seek the thrill, the chaos, the excitement. It isn’t always fun. Sometimes it’s scary, overwhelmingly so. But it is always exhilarating.


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