When we’re young (think teens, twenties), we’re typically more adventurous, curious, and we are more apt to take risks. Why not? we think. As young people, we have our whole lives ahead of us – both to make mistakes and to succeed. We certainly don’t have to figure everything out right now, or so the thinking goes.
As we age and take on more responsibilities, we tend to become less inclined to take risks – we become more conservative, cautious and in many ways, more full of doubt. We see the world around us, and unfortunately, buy into the notion of “I can’t.” We give in to the negativity that our society breeds and assume we aren’t capable of doing something we dream of, perhaps something that God put on our heart “way back when.” We buy into the idea that we will suffer or our families might suffer if we “risk it” only to have it end up not working out. We might assume that success stories are not meant for people like us, or we might believe that failing at something new is not acceptable.
Some of that can be good – after all, we don’t want to be capricious when it comes to taking care of our loved ones and meeting our obligations. At the same time, we can become stuck in ruts out of an overly cautious approach to life. We tend to stay in ruts for numerous reasons. We believe we will fail if we try something new. We fear what others might think of us if we doing something out of the ordinary. We stay in our circumstances because they are comfortable, or we self-talk ourselves with lines like: why mess with it if things are “good enough?”
While routines and ruts can serve a useful purpose, they have a dangerous downside -- they can keep us from living a full, rich and satisfying life. See John 10:10, from the Message:
I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.
God wants us living life to the full – and that likely means taking a risk – which can be a wonderful, fresh way to break out of a rut that is otherwise holding us back. I’m convinced that if we open ourselves up to what God’s Spirit is saying, we’ll be led to take more risks – and we’ll step into a richer, fuller life in doing so!
Here are some practical steps for breaking out of a rut:
o Give God the opportunity to speak to you, instruct you – “hear his whispers”. He’s speaking, but perhaps you’ve been too occupied to hear him.
o Take small steps of action in exploring something new, moving into bigger steps later on.
o Bring others into the conversation – what untapped opportunities do others see for you?
o As you begin to move in a new direction, look for practical confirmations that you’re on the right track. Do you feel at peace with your decisions, despite hardships you are facing? Can you see tangible examples of how things are working together or might ultimately work out? Are there any “God moments” in the process?
Stepping out of a rut in risk can be scary, confusing or even painful. We may feel the risk is too great, or perhaps not really “necessary” because things appear to be working well enough and we’re basically comfortable. But to not step out in risk might mean settling for something less than a rich and satisfying life – and might mean missing what we were called to do.