Updated: May 5, 2020
I never really thought of myself as a risk-taker until recently. I've always been known as a bold or outspoken person, but to me, such a straight forward approach to life just comes naturally. Sometimes this characteristic is beneficial... and sometimes not so much.
Being bold and courageous comes in handy when I am figure skating. I am able to advance fairly quickly despite my late start to the sport simply because I'm not afraid to fall. I'm not afraid to try new things. Being bold and courageous also comes in handy when I'm put into a leadership role. I'm not uncomfortable taking charge and saying, "this is how we are going to do it." despite the fact that we might encounter challenges along the way. These traits also come in handy when I need to stand up for someone or something I believe in. I'm not the type to back away from a conflict or a challenge, but rather I try to embrace it.
That being said, my outspoken bravery sets me up for a lot of hardship at times. Sometimes I speak up, and it offends other people. Sometimes I take a risk and it causes me to miserably fail. I've been working on a skating jump recently that has me down on the ice more often than not.
Many people blame my fearlessness on my age. They tell me that in a few years I will "grow up and calm down". They say I won't feel such a need to speak my mind or take as many risks. In some ways, I think they are right. As I get older and go through more failures or social interactions, I become more tactful and at times reserved with my approach to conflicts or challenges. At the same time, I hope I don't lose all of my spark simply because I've become, "more mature." I don't think maturity has to mean compliance. In everything we do, I believe we should seek after a balance. In order to find a balance you sometimes have to test your limits.. but some people would rather just avoid conflict entirely. As we get older we are somehow expected to become perfect and just "already know" everything, but I don't think that is how it should be.
I think people are afraid to take risks because they are afraid of the negative feelings that come from mistakes. Being fearless often means having to apologize or admit my flaws. I am terrible at apologizing because I hate admitting my faults... but the more I mess up, the better I become at it! This is a crucial life lesson for us to learn- the ability to admit that we are not perfect.
The thing is, sometimes failing is good. Sometimes conflict though uncomfortable, helps us grow. This is something I've really wrestled with. When I was little I resented my boldness. I wished I could just sit back like other kids and seemingly not have a care in the world. I got called "teacher's pet" for always asking questions and wanting to follow or understand the rules.
As easy of a life as it might be to go along with the majority, I don't think I would have learned nearly as much about myself or the world if I was always too scared to speak up or get involved. I think of all the inventors, scientists, scholars, and athletes who pushed against what society claimed was the standard. If we never challenge anything, we become stagnant.
I believe it can be the same way with our faith. Sometimes we are afraid to question what we believe in or ask our pastor the hard questions we have about God or the Bible. We don't want to ruffle any feathers or give anyone the wrong idea about us. The problem is if we never ask questions we very well might never receive the answers. If we never draw awareness to issues that we are facing, how can we resolve them? We also take this approach with witnessing. We are afraid to speak up about not working on Sabbath or not having sex outside of marriage. We don't want people to judge us or think we are strange. We don't want to share our opinions on controversial issues when we know our views are the minority. It seems easier and sometimes even more Christ-like to just go with the flow.
There are certainly many Bible verses about holding our tongue, being slow to anger, and having a meek demeanor. However, those verses do not cancel out or disqualify the many verses that speak on being bold for God and for what is right:
2 Timothy 1:7 For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
Romans 12:1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Proverbs 28:1 The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.
Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.
Acts 14:3 So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.
We are not called to be passive believers, but instead, we are called to speak boldly about God and what he says in his word. This inevitably means that sometimes we will make mistakes and sometimes we will find ourselves in uncomfortable situations, but it is in those moments that God molds our character. He can take our humiliations and turn them into something for his glory. He can take our past mistakes and use them to prepare us for future successes.
The truth is, we were meant to fail... but we can find our confidence in God.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Think about that phrase, "for when I am weak, then I am strong." for a moment. That really holds a lot of power.
One of the best ways I have found to improve my approach to hard things is by taking on the character of Christ. Christ was very bold, but he also loved people. He found the perfect balance between speaking his mind and creating a culture of acceptance. As I strive to hone my courage it is my goal to become more like him. I am thankful for my failures because they show me ways I can grow. When I make mistakes or have to apologize, I am humbled and I am reminded of my constant need for a Savior.