Several years ago, I decided I was going to become more daring with my life. I heard a story about a man who, as he was dying, began to regret not doing many things he realized he should have done in the course of his lifetime. He acknowledged he had had a good life, even a successful life according to worldly standards, but as it all came to an end, he realized he had not lived a full life. By living his life safely and in fear of change, he believed he had missed his calling and found himself spending his last days reciting a litany of “what ifs”. He said he wanted his story to be a warning to people, that if they didn't want to end up like him - wondering “what if?” - then they should embrace life and change without fear. He pointed out how he had backed away from risks many times in his life because he was afraid of what others might think and of what it might cost him. He had lived a comfortable life as a lawyer, with plenty of money and the material possessions and comforts that go along with it, but as his life drew to a close, he knew he had not ever really lived.
That message spoke powerfully to me. I had spent plenty of time avoiding the pursuit of difficult things, even though I knew God was putting them in my heart and mind to do. I admit, I was afraid. Even though I sensed I was not living fully in His will, I was comfortable with the familiar, so that is where I safely stayed. But that was not the person I wanted to be - and I knew it was not the person I could be. I was settling. It took a tremendous amount of prayer and time for me to work up the courage to begin to really take steps of faith into the unknown. Initially, they were just baby-steps, with a bit of risk, but not too much. Every little change I made increased my courage and my faith.
Now, several years later, my life resembles nothing like the life I had before. There are definitely struggles and stressors. Everything did not become perfect when I chose to stop being afraid and began to embrace change, but it has certainly become fulfilling. If the idea for The Torch had been presented to me ten years ago - I would have dreamed about it and then pushed it to back of my mind, into what would have become my “what if” box. I know I wouldn't have had the courage to lay it all on the line like Sarah and I have done. I fully realize the enormous task we have undertaken and the multitude of risks involved. I have listened to people as they explained to me all the reasons The Torch wouldn't work, couldn't work - and occasionally I have run those thoughts through my mind. And I have faced obstacles which looked utterly impossible to overcome, but which apparently were not, because they were overcome. Even now, doors are opening for The Torch and I have a sense we are merely at the tip of the iceberg with what is going to happen. But what do I know? I can’t see the future.
But here’s the thing, the thing which brings me incredible peace and hope and joy - the thing I will never lose out of all the experiences I have had during these past few years - The Torch will never be a “what if” for me. However things turn out, however they go - I will know “what if”. I will know I tried. I will not have to end my days wondering. I will know. And I have learned such a valuable lesson about taking risks and exploring new opportunities.
I don’t ever want to look back over my life and wish I had done things I didn't do. I would rather fail than never know what could have been. I would even prefer to - gasp! - make mistakes than stay safe and never try. I have learned mistakes are great teachers, and risks can be very fulfilling.
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