What scares you?

I’m guessing this question isn’t hard for you to answer.

In fact, I’m guessing that, in thinking about it, a whole kennel of miscellaneous fears started barking at you if you entertained the thought for even a minute.

ALL of us are afraid of something, since there are so many opportunities to cower and shake and obsess and descend into darkness these days—on a global, regional and personal scale.

But consider this: maybe whatever is currently scaring you can point the way to a life of adventure.

How?

So glad you asked…because that question, as always, reminds me of a story:

One year our church was sponsoring a women’s retreat titled Trusting God in the Ups and Downs of Life.  I was in charge of finding a drama and designing a set to enhance the theme.

I ultimately decided on a great sketch titled No More Womb, where the two main characters are unborn twins, hanging out in utero, discussing all that they look forward to and all that frightens them about entering the outside world.

Corralling actors was easy; designing the set, however, was a challenge since, let’s be honest, the requirements for this one were fairly weird.

So I asked a graphic artist if he could design us a backdrop that looked like a giant womb big enough to hold two adults dressed like fetuses.

Will you make a friend who’s different from you?

I grew up thinking I was not athletically gifted. It all started in the third grade on the playground during a kickball game. One boy in my class (we’ll call him Butch) was pitching the ball to me. He rolled it, and I ran to nail the thing with all my might, aiming my foot for a vicious attack.

Well, give me an A for effort. I flung my leg in the direction of the ball…and completely missed it. Missed. It. A huge, rubber playground ball. I am not sure how on earth this could have happened, but it did, which was bad enough. But worse, just at that moment, a good stiff wind caught my dress and blew it straight up into my face.

And Butch (being Butch) could not let this pass without a terrible, horrible, no good very bad comment:

“HEY BIG PANTIES!” he yelled. “YOU MISSED!”

I remember wanting to knock the kid into next week, but the wind was still blowing, and I was afraid of ballooning into another sideshow, so I told myself I didn’t care.

Didn’t care? I still remember it decades later. And I remember it as the beginning of the voices in my head telling me that I was not athletic–not coordinated, not graceful, not fast. Those voices ragged me for a long, long time.

No more.

What are your magic moments?

You don’t engineer or plan them; they take you by surprise and fill you with delight (sometimes in the most unlikely places). They expand your vision beyond your current troubles, and transport you—not away into escape, but back in touch with your heart. The expansive part of your heart, not the breaking part.

You’ve most likely had a bunch of magic moments in your life, and so have I.

What’s it like to be you?

This, my friends, is the Mother of all questions. It’s so right on so many levels.

What's it like to be you?

Asking this question will help you resolve a conflict; it will help you understand another perspective; it will shed light on the (particularly exasperating) behavior of someone whose (particularly exasperating) behavior has a big effect on your life and times.

And if you ask it of yourself, the answer will likely hold a significant clue to the adventure you were born to live.

What would you do if you had no fear?

Let’s get this straight right out of the gate:

What would you do if you had no fear?

This question is in regard to adventure, not revenge or anything that totally disregards human decency. You may want to tell someone off or worse, and be afraid of the consequences. Good for you. Because that’s not what we’re talking about here. (Although we may be talking about having a necessary difficult conversation, or telling someone you love them. Now that’s an adventure.)

Or you may be reminded of your younger years, before your brain had fully developed, when you had almost no fear of anything, and did some incredibly dumb stuff.

What we’re talking about is this: sometimes, you’d like to participate in an adventure, and you’re afraid. So you don’t. But  you should.

What do you regret not doing?

Most of us have no trouble rattling off a decent sized list of dumb stuff we regret having done.

What do you regret not doing?

There. You’ve already thought of a couple things, haven’t you?

But what about invitations to adventure you regret declining? The heartbreak of “woulda-coulda-shoulda”?

Granted, there’s no un-doing an opportunity missed in the past…but that kind of regret can, I believe, give your reluctant spirit a wallop in the pants, and motivate you to say “yes” in the future.

A while back, my mom and I were at the Virginia State Fair, when we came upon an adorable chimpanzee–and for five dollars you could have a high quality Instamatic photo taken with her.  When I caught sight of that irresistible offer, I begged, “Mom, Mom, please can we have our picture taken with the chimp? Pleeeeease?” but my mother, who had always been a bit more reserved than I, resisted.

“But why not?” I wanted to know.

“Well,”she said slowly, obviously trying to think of a good reason, “twenty years from now someone might get a look at it and think it’s a three generation picture.”

Quick thinking on her part, and not a bad excuse. Still I was disappointed. And I stewed in that disappointment for a long time, kicking myself for not insisting on making an iconic moment for the ages.

And I actually kicked myself for almost twenty years…until one night, lying in bed, I had an idea.

If you were watching a movie of your life, would you cheer?

Can you name a movie you love so much, you’ve watched it multiple times?

If you were watching a movie of your life, would you cheer?

Maybe you like it for one of these reasons:

  1. It’s funny. And somehow, the funny never gets old. Humor is very, very important.  Of course, your idea of funny may be someone else’s idea of stupid, but there’s actually a lot to be said for stupid.
  2. It’s romantic. You can pooh-pooh this as cheesy and formulaic, but a happy ending following a fair amount of tension is pretty doggone gratifying.
  3. It’s action-packed, full of excitement and adrenaline-infused moments.  It’s rewarding to watch someone overcome extraordinary odds, and emerge on top.
  4. It’s do-the-right-thing, and  inspiring to see a character power through great resistance to do what’s right–whatever that is.

When you’re watching a movie, you may think you’re just passively taking in some entertainment, but consider this:

I believe that deep in the belly of your favorite movies sits a key to living your life of adventure.

What are you doing now that requires faith?

Ever take a trust walk?

WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW THAT REQUIRES FAITH?

It’s when you pair off, one person blindfolded and one seeing, leading the “blind” one around, while the “blind” one has to trust the sighted one not to run into ruin, or a tree at the very least. It’s usually extremely uncomfortable to be, well, blind, and perhaps more to the point, out of control.

One time my husband, Ben, and I were at a marriage retreat doing this. When it was his turn to lead, he walked me into an echo-y room where the sound was bouncing off the walls. “Ben, where ARE we?” I asked, just starting to get a little claustrophobic (in the eyes, anyway). No answer. “Ben, where are YOU?” Again, no answer. He had obviously left the area.

Well, I wasn’t having any of that, so I broke the rules and ripped off the blindfold, only to be confronted by a row of urinals. Yes, folks, he had led me into the men’s restroom, and left me…fortunately, with no men in sight.

He was right outside the door, laughing. I was only sorta laughing. This was not terribly unusual behavior for him, but geez.

Maybe for you, sometimes it feels like God has you on a trust walk and He’s leading you around, blindfolded and holding His hand, and all of a sudden, while you’re just trusting away, He leads you into the men’s room, where your life really does look like a row of urinals, and just leaves you there, your own voice echoing off the walls.

What do your negative circumstances make possible?

You may not be in the best place right now. Maybe you’re experiencing a health crisis, a relationship crisis, a career crisis. Maybe you have too much to do. Or not enough.

Whatever way your life isn’t the greatest, you may think that these circumstances don’t lend themselves to you cavorting off on some high falutin’ adventure.

And maybe they don’t.

Then again…

Maybe these undesirable days make an adventure possible–one you couldn’t have dreamed up in boring old uneventful times.

Case in point: