Complicated Risk


The sudden crack of the window next to my computer sounded like the thud of an errant ball lobbed in the wrong direction and as soon as it did, I ducked, certain I was about to be covered in shards.

When the raining glass never fell, I opened my blinds to figure out what the heck had slammed so hard. There lay a bird in the grass, blinking slowly, stunned.

I took a deep breath and watched.

Early this morning at church (and for as long as I can remember) our pastor discussed getting involved. “Become a part of the community,” they invite, week after week. They have this picture of the church logo at the front of the sanctuary, but it’s all puzzle pieces. Various names have been written on a few – a visual of people volunteering time and talents for the community at large.

I’ve often contemplated volunteering, not just here, but at many of the churches we’ve attended in various duty stations. Some I have, others I haven’t. We’ve done children’s church, nursery care, and hosted small groups. Looking at our last year here, I’ve been telling myself, “We only have one year. Why bother now?” I also work at a gym. I know in my bones that working in this field is what I’m meant to do. It’s a way to serve others, help, and contribute something positive. I know the positive impact that health and fitness has had in my life, as well as my family’s – how could I not pay that forward?

We all have a tendency to complicate these things when we are afraid of being told no, or of what we perceive as failing. It has been put to me (in numerous ways, as will happen) that “I have a year left. What am I going to do with that year?” If the invitation presents itself, what will I do with it? Will I say no? My introverted self would like that. No risk, but no reward, either.

Towards the end of today’s sermon, the pastor takes two of the puzzle pieces out of the easel and throws them in two directions. One flies in one direction, the other flies in front of my seat. Usually when I hear people talking about “God saying” this or that, I cringe. It always sounds “churchy” to me. How the heck do you know what God is saying?

I chuckle at Lily Tomlin’s quote: “Why is it that when we talk to God we’re said to be praying, but when God talks to us we’re schizophrenic?”

While I have never heard God audibly speak, I do experience intuition, a gut-knowing, a without-question-clear-cut indication when I’m being urged in one direction or another. Call that what you want, God, the universe, what have you – it’s usually pretty clear. The question is always, how then do I respond?

Eric heads off to pick up the kids and hands me the puzzle piece. I promptly head to the bathroom to collect my thoughts. What if I’ve got this all wrong? Who needs a fitness instructor in the church?

Ugh. Okay, okay, fine. I’ll go.

I swallow my nerves, gather my stuff and that darn puzzle piece and wait a moment to chat with the pastor. Holding it up, “Can I chat with you for a moment about this,” I ask, voice trembling, hand shaking. “Sure!” he says as he takes the piece. Briefly explaining what I do and my passion, his eyes light up and he nods, taking down my number, asking if we can meet later this week to discuss ideas further.


“I would love that,” I exhale, relieved, grateful that I’m not way off base here in thinking that perhaps fitness and the church community are not mutually exclusive.

My thoughts return to the stunned bird at the bottom of my windowpane. She’s still blinking. I watch as she continues to slowly blink her blue-rimmed eyes. A quiet, “Get up little, one. you can do this,” comes out. I want to call my kids over to watch, but hesitate, not sure if this bird is going to make it or not. I don’t want to frighten the poor thing, or have my daughter want to bring it inside, only to be heartbroken if it doesn’t survive. She gingerly stands up, waddles over to the edge of the window where I can no longer see her. I don’t know if she will make a go of it, if she’s broken a wing or a leg.

Perhaps today, right now, it’s just enough that she took a step.


6 thoughts on “Complicated Risk”

  1. Needed this today as I am bawling my eyes out now that we are home after moving Riley into her college apartment….the finalty of her being two and a half hours away is setting in….God has plans for both her and I even though right now I am not liking it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh man! Big hugs to you!! That’s a HUGE transition! I wondered if 5 years was enough before sending them to school. And 16 before they drive, and 18 years before they are technically adults. Doesn’t ever seem like enough time. ❤️


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