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I didn’t mean to misjudge the dang pavement and fall to my knees in a very unladylike fashion and yell “Oh my God!” on my way down and follow it up with a complete roll over to my side. I think I just laid there in a fetal position for a few seconds wondering if I would be able walk with a dislocated hip to the nearest hospital. “Are you ok??” I heard the older woman ask me as I dragged myself up off the ground with a 50 pound sack of humiliation strapped to my back. I just nodded my head while the stinging in my ears slowly subsided. My daughter ran towards me asking if I was ok. I really wanted to just stick my head in the sand somewhere but alas we were in the middle of Times Square so no sand could be found. I comforted myself with the fact that I would never see these people again, except for my husband and daughter, and they didn’t actually see me fall because they were in front of me. They just heard my desperate cry for help as I fell like a 100 foot tall Redwood. I walked away from that fall slowly with 2 busted up knees, my hands were scuffed up from catching myself and my hip was bruised but hey at least I walked away. But more than the scratches and bruises, a lingering sting of embarrassment seemed to attach itself to me.
You see, this wasn’t the first time I had an incident on vacation. On previous vacations I was blessed with the following incidents:
1) Almost drowning on a river raft excursion. While everyone else was laughing and enjoying a nice little river raft adventure, I flipped off of my tube and got swept under by the current and my foot got caught between 2 rocks. I couldn’t escape for minutes it seemed like.
2) Almost dying of food poisoning. While everyone else was enjoying our little cabin in the woods adventure, I was stuck in the bed and on the toilet for 3 days because I ate some bad tacos on the way out of town.
3) Almost falling down the stairs at a Nascar Race. While my husband was caught up in the 3rd realm of heaven watching cars speed around in a circle, I was trying not to fall down the stadium stairs that were eternally high because I had been sick with a head cold a few weeks earlier and now suffered from Vertigo. When I wasn’t throwing up, the room was spinning. It’s not easy to maneuver stairs without balance.
4) Almost destroying my spine. While my husband was dreaming of all of the fun things to do in NYC, I woke up to a dislocated neck and I couldn’t turn my head for days.
So I could let all of these negative experiences color my perspective about vacation and decide to not take them anymore. I could stay home afraid of what painful incident I might encounter with my next adventure. I might spend my days playing it safe because I’m so accident prone I suppose. I could live my entire life this way. Never taking risks, never trying new things, never challenging myself in any area. After all, experience has proven time and again that adventure is not my friend. I could even conclude that God made me this way so I should just accept it and live a boring, safe life.
Or I could just say to heck with it and do it anyway. Take the vacation, do something fun and new. If I fall down I’ll just get back up. If I get sick I’ll get over it. Surely the risk is worth the reward. What I failed to mention about those trips is that some amazing things happened despite my clumsiness. I got to see things that are breath taking, like the Guadalupe River in the middle of July, with all its twists and turns and super crazy rapids. What an adventure! It scared the junk out of me but it was an adventure! Even though I fell down in NYC, I got to experience one of the most amazing church services at Hillsong. I sensed God’s presence in such a powerful way there, unlike anything I have experienced before. I cried when we walked through the 09/11 memorial as I saw the faces of those victims that lost their lives. And I got to make memories with my family that I will never forget! I will carry these memories into eternity with me. So what if I almost drowned, fell down, woke up with a broken neck, it was worth it because I got to experience an adventure.
That’s the way we have to look at our lives. We need to see the good things and not just focus on the pain, the heartache. Life is a beautiful and messy balance of joy and sorrow, pain and pleasure. Without the pain we couldn’t appreciate the pleasure. Without the presence of occasional sorrow, we wouldn’t really know what true joy is. I believe God desires for us to really live. But being fully alive might be painful at times. We might trip and fall and bust our knees up or throw our back out of alignment but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t ever try again. We just have to learn from our clumsiness so we don’t repeat it again.
We can’t focus on the bad experiences we encounter and never think about the good ones. What a depressing way to live. Part of being on an adventure is being in the midst of danger and the unknown. That’s what keeps it interesting for us. We can’t always know what’s around the bend and whether or not it might hurt us. If we live our lives that way we never TRULY are alive and we never experience God’s goodness and ability to turn something awful into something great. The truth is God likes a good story, a fun adventure. In fact the Bible is full of people who went on adventures with God. Sometimes they got hurt but in the end the pain was worth the reward because they saw God’s goodness. But we don’t like not knowing our story. We ask God to use us for His kingdom for great and daring exploits but then we want to see the safety net before we will jump. We like the idea of adventure, but not the actual living out of it. We want a pain free experience, not an adventure full of life lessons.
I challenge you to take a risk even if it means getting hurt a little. Progress isn’t perfect but IT IS still progress! It’s the moving forward that matters.