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IMG_1725Friday, I spent a fair portion of my day in tears. Not because I was delivered some horrific news about a loved one. Not because I have a wayward child or a crumbling marriage.
I spent the day crying because I couldn’t figure out how to get my toes to touch the bar consecutively, and then at all, in the 14.4 CrossFit Open Games WOD. (click here for an example of the movement)
I am dead serious.
Now I will pause, allowing you ample time for eye rolling and head shaking….
Tom Hank’s classic line in the 1992 film, A League of Their Own, comes to mind:
Are you crying? Are you crying? ARE YOU CRYING? There’s no crying! THERE’S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL!”
I love that line.
But it’s not true. There is crying. Even after you tell yourself to “suck it up,” or “it’s just toes-to-bar,” or “this is not one of life’s critical issues….” Sometimes even then, there is still crying—whether it’s in baseball, or CrossFit, or just in general.
To my feeble defense, what really made me cry was more of a series of things in life that have left me feeling exposed—naked and vulnerable for the world (or my little slice of the world, anyway) to see. Toes-to-bar was just the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.
In the past several weeks, I have:

  • Written and submitted my first book proposal to Calvin’s Festival of Faith and Writing’s open submission line for aspiring writers
  • Taken on the role of assistant track coach to my son’s middle & high school track team, making this my first coaching experience ever
  • Continually stepped out of my comfort zone at my gym, working on skills with a new level of zealousness—the kind I used to reserve only for running
  • Not been fired from any of my other jobs

With each of these things I feel like I’m walking the rim of the Grand Canyon. If you’ve been to the Grand Canyon, you know there’s no railings. Nothing to keep you from falling right over the edge with one lean too far.
Truthfully, I think I’ve already walked off the edge.
IMG_1737I have in my stash of greeting cards, one with a Mary Engelbreit design on the front. Its picture is of a little girl climbing out onto a precariously high and ever-thinning branch, reaching out towards the glossy ripe fruit dangling at the end. Below this picture is a quote by Mark Twain:

Why not go out on a limb? That’s where the fruit is.

It’s a nice quote, but just another of the hundreds like it that are easier said than done.
There’s plenty of reasons to not “go out on a limb.” I will most definitely get scratched and bruised in the effort. The limb could break. I could fall and break bones—quite possibly my neck! I could get all the way out there to the end of the limb with it bending dangerously under my weight and grab onto the fruit, only to discover it won’t snap off easily, or it’s infested with worms, or it’s more rotten than it is ripe.
And then what? I’ve risked all that effort, all that time, even my life! for some piece of fruit. I’m not sure a piece of ripe juicy fruit is worth all that risk and pain.
But, then again…I’m not sure it isn’t, either.
If I believe I am created in the image of God, then I have to believe that taking risks is part of my DNA. After all, I can’t think of a greater risk to take than allowing your creation the power to reject you outright, even after you’ve sacrificed everything for them—even your own Son’s life—all for the opportunity (read: no guarantee!) to have deep, abiding, creative, eternal relationship with them.
I can’t see why He would take such a risk; why He would go so far out on the limb (two limbs, actually, in the shape of a cross—nailed right onto ‘em)…unless He truly thought the “fruit” was worth it. Worth the pain, sacrifice, and possible rejection.
I guess it is the same with me—I have to decide…Is it worth it?
Is it worth exposing myself to the possible rejection of my book proposal, my coaching techniques being ineffective, the failed attempts in front of others at the gym?
Well…yes. I think it is.
Theologian, author, and civil rights activist, Howard Thurman once said:

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Writing, coaching young runners, overcoming physical limitations (whether through CrossFit, running, or some future challenge I haven’t yet discovered)…these are on the short list of things that make me “come alive.” And coming alive is a gift! Oh, that we would all recognize the gifts we’ve been given and go live out on the limb with them, trusting that the Gift Giver will make something beautiful with our efforts! But also, recognizing that our gifts, our “coming alive” are not given for us to keep, but rather to give away—to  invest and cultivate into the cultural spheres in which we spend our days. In this way, we are acting as image-bearer. We are, like our Creator, taking big risks. Going out on a limb.
Right now, I feel very far out on that limb. And, I haven’t yet reached the fruit….And, I’m getting scratched up; bloodied at the knees and elbows—with a little bird poop on my face even.
So, Friday, it just made me cry.
And that’ okay…because today I am learning—once again—to not take myself so seriously; not hold too tightly to my gifts, remembering they aren’t mine to keep in the first place. And tomorrow I will begin practicing—once again—my toes-to-bar, continually inching my way out onto the end of that limb.
Because, Yes. The fruit really is worth it.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…”  –Hebrews 12:1-2

So…what are you out on a limb for right now?