with equal parts compassion & hilarity

How to be risky, how to be free

Risky: full of the possibility of danger, failure, or loss. 

Oxford Dictionary

With today’s words, I will tell you how to be risky. Free of charge. Aren’t I generous? These words are specifically for the men and women of this world who have oft-heard phrases like “take a risk every once in a while”, “have a little fun”, “no, I didn’t ask about your color-coded Bible reading plan…what do you do for fun?” or the ever classic, “you’re too responsible”.

Men and women: aren’t you sick and tired of hearing those phrases?! I get it. I’ve been there before. I’ve heard (hear) those words. Don’t you want to show those people what’s up?! Well, folks, your internet wanderings have brought you to the right place. Here, today and now, via the screen you are staring at, you can learn how to be risky. 

You can be as risky as me if only you follow the next eight steps:

  1. Get that eyebrow piercing you’ve been thinking about for four years
  2. Call your retirement portfolio manager and change your investment strategy from moderately aggressive to, yep, you guessed it, aggressive
  3. Go to bed without brushing your teeth (okay maybe only do this one like once or twice)
  4. Take a shot of whiskey right before you give a speech at your dear friend’s wedding
  5. Allow your major decisions to be heavily influenced by how you feel after a haircut
  6. If you’re single & mingling, ask someone you find attractive out for a date (stuttering and sweating are bonuses of this risk!)
  7. Do things stag, i.e., live alone, take a dance class, go on a solo camping/hiking trip
  8. Drive your car until the gas tank meter reads “E!” or until the steering wheel starts smoking

There you have it. How to be risky. This list is tried and true, folks. At one point or another, I’ve checked off each of these eight items and look at me now – I’m practically the poster child for risk.

Okay, okay, psyche. I read my husband that line and this is the look he gave me ⤵️

But, in all seriousness

If you really want to get risky you only need to do two things. In my humble opinion, the riskiest thing to do is to love and let yourself be loved. It looks risky on the outside, anyway.

It feels and sometimes can be, risky to love because it is life-giving while also often requiring sacrifice. Furthermore, loving others grows you unexpectedly in ways you perhaps do and do not want, and it humbles you in such a way that forces you to turn to something greater than yourself or the person you are loving. 

When I set out to love people, I’m forced to slow down in order to see them better, listen to them, and spend lots of time with them. Likewise, people who love me are also trying to see me, listen to me, and spend time with me. I, again, need to slow down long enough for them to be able to get to know me well. I try hard to be vulnerable while I’m loving people and being loved by them.

Eventually, when I get to know someone well enough or they get to know me well enough, disappointment, insecurity, and hurt inevitably rise up. When I, an imperfect person, interact with other imperfect persons, grace must be present. So, the greater-than-me something that I turn to is God. It is only by the Gospel of the grace of God that I am able to offer and exchange grace.

I just hinted at this, but I usually need help to offer grace which 1) keeps me looking up and, 2) is great job security for the Big Guy in the Sky (as if He needs it). Loving people is an exhausting, never-ceasing progression of becoming aware of my flaws (even though I’m still an awesome person!) and need for Christ.

As I look up, parts of myself are exposed that I never wanted to see and yet, they’re seen now because in facing the Lord I am facing light. Hidden secrets or shame I wanted to keep in the dark cannot possibly escape the light God’s precious grace offers. And, He wholly loves me even while fully knowing me. And, He wholly loves you even while fully knowing you. I’ve heard that statement a million times but only when I humbly and deeply think about do begin to scratch the surface of what it means for me.

Yes, it feels massively risky and intimidating to walk directly towards that type of love, but on the side of love, on the side of the Lord, there is freedom. That freedom doesn’t simply feel good. It is good. It is the truest, most stable thing in this world. It’s a type of freedom far greater and more reliable than the tingly buzz of Jameson or in the exhilaration of getting a piercing or even backpacking Europe as a carefree twenty-something.

The freedom is real, it is lasting, and it is for you – if only you take it. Taking it is both vulnerable and brave. It is the best.

I said yes to that type of freedom, but sometimes I forget what that freedom and grace and love and light truly mean. So, these days, I’m working to daily say yes over and over again. And, no, much to my chagrin there is no eight step plan to follow to have a successful life of freedom or faith or joy. Instead, I’m challenged to simply start with the next right thing which has always been the same thing. It has always been “look up”.

Look up.

Take a risk with me? Say yes? Look up?


Practice

+ Turn: to the greater-than-me-something that is God.

+ Step: into freedom with a prayer—Dear God, I am a sinner and I need you to save me. Thank you for dying on the cross. Because of this grace, I am forgiven. Now, I want you to be the leader of my life. Help me live my life for you. Help me look up. Amen.

+ Keep on: looking up in the tomorrows. Pray that same prayer. Pray for strong neck muscles to keep looking up.

+ Remember: I’m not perfect and I don’t have to be to look up.

+ Remember: He wholly loves me even while fully knowing me.

+ Remember: It is only by the Gospel of the grace of God that I am able to offer and exchange grace.

+ Reach out: let me know which practice you’re working on! alexisanne.swenson@gmail.com


P.S. When I was talking about loving people and letting them love you, please don’t hear me say to do so blindly or without regard to your emotional/mental/spiritual/physical well-being. I encourage you to use your gut + brain + heart when loving people because they should all be leveraged in relationships. It’s a delicate balance that you’ll likely mess up a few different times, but since we’re all in a state of becoming I promise to mess up and learn right alongside you.

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2 Responses to “How to be risky, how to be free”

  1. celestekoppeblog

    “Allow your major decisions to be heavily influenced by how you feel after a haircut” is golden, and the personality in this post screams adventure. Cheers to taking risks!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • goodsofasoul

      I just can’t help but feel so confident & amazing after a haircut! And, I love that you picked up adventure in this post – adventuring is the best & you’re a pro at it. Cheers, indeed! 🙂

      Like

      Reply

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