Play it safe. One of Lisa’s cardinal rules. I think it started when I was fairly young. Limit risk, know what you’re getting into. Lots of contingency planning, back up plans. Before I get into anything, I’ve usually done extensive research, made sure I know how it could go wrong and make plans to avoid that. I don’t want to deal with things going wrong. I want things nice and buttoned up, within my control, that’s what safe looks like.
So how’s that working for you? Yep, that’s the question I’ve been rolling around in my head, that I’ve been asked. Well, nice and safe, that’s how that’s working. And on the surface, that seems fine, I had a lot going on with my kids, work, family, lots of responsibilities to tend to. So keeping my risks down makes a lot of sense. No time for things to go wrong. But they still did go wrong. And in the meantime, I’d been so busy playing it safe I hadn’t been paying attention to the fact that there wasn’t a lot of joy in my life. It’s hard to have joy where you’re busy being serious all the time.
And it’s also hard to really know what joy is when you don’t let yourself experience the other side, the pain. Staying safe avoids pain. Doesn’t mean you avoid difficulty, but safe steers you around a lot of pain. Don’t be fooled though, the pain can still come, it just comes unexpectedly. Comes when your safe existence is shaken, or shattered.
But if you walk through the pain, when, not if, you survive it, an interesting thing can happen. You start to see more joy, at least I did. Something about the pain strips away your defenses. When I let myself be outside the lines, not be so safe, I starting seeing joy. Joy in the simple things. Joy in every day. Joy that God has had for me all along. I started feeling deeper. My heart felt more compassion for others, more understanding.
When I stopped playing it so safe, that’s when I woke up. That’s when I saw what I’d really been doing. Where the path I’d been walking down had led me. It caused me to rethink choices I’d made, ways I’d engaged with people I cared about. And I didn’t like some of what I saw. But I’d learned what pain felt like now, and it helped me to be brave. I had hard conversations. And there was some pain, because admitting when you’ve made mistakes – even when in the spirit of just staying safe, which you’ve used to justify what you’ve done in the past – it hard.
What’s the point of going down that hard path again? The once elusive joy now shows up more and more often. The braver I am, the more I lean into discomfort, the more joy and peace I’m experiencing. And that is an amazing thing. Give it a try!