The Problem With Reducing Risk.

I’m a cautious person. I will set boundaries and make up rules even when none exist and there’s no need for any. I do so because I have this ingrained belief, at times, that something could, or is going to, go wrong. As a husband and a father I tend to use my energy to reduce as much risk as possible. However, this can create huge problems!

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I was struck by a paragraph I read, the other day, in the book Wild At Heart by John Eldredge. He says this:

Most men spend the energy of their lives trying to eliminate risk, or squeezing it down to a more manageable size. Their children hear “no” far more than they hear “yes”, their employees feel chained up and their wives are equally bound. If it works, if a man succeeds in securing his life against all risk, he’ll wind up in a cocoon of self-protection and wonder all the while why he’s suffocating.

I had to re-read this several times and allow it to sink in. Immediately, I found myself examining my own life. I replayed recent interactions I’ve had with my children when their adventurous spirits were getting “a little too out of control,” and I asked them to stop before something broke. I mentally went back to a few moments when my wife wanted to maximize the free time we had but I was too busy worrying about work issues or whether the checking account was balanced.

Instead of fully engaging in the life of my family, over the years, I’ve spent so much time worrying about safety and security. Will we have enough money? Will everyone stay healthy and safe? Will we survive the dark days of life?

I’ve turned down my daughter’s request to dance in public more times than I can count. When my son wanted to use a pile of scrap wood in the backyard to build a tree-fort last summer, I said no because, “there’s just no way we could accomplish that using that type of wood.” “We need a plan,” I argued, “we need the right type of wood, we need time. We don’t have any of that!” You should’ve seen the look on his face. It haunts me to think about it.

We are always in search of a plan aren’t we? We are always claiming that “there’s not enough time.” We tend to say no to our children or our spouses way more than we say yes. I know I do.

So my question is- why? Why do we do this? Why are we so afraid of risk? Why are so fearful of living life to the fullest? What’s stopping us? What’s stopping you? What’s stopping me?

There are times when I look at my life and wonder what happened. What happened to that 22 year old college kid who would’ve dropped everything and taken a road trip to Wyoming just to say he did it? What happened to that 12-year old boy who used to romp and roam, barefoot, and care-free on hundreds of acres of land? What happened to that man who threw caution to the wind, danced in the rain, sang at the top of his lungs in public, or bounced off the walls because his favorite band was coming to town?

Do you ever wonder about your life like this?

Please understand, I’m not saying that I want to return to age 22, or become a 12-year old kid again. And I’m not advocating carelessness or irresponsibility. I’m challenging lost adventure. I’m taking a moment to check my own life, and evaluate what’s most important against how I’m actually living. I want to live every moment of life to the very fullest that I can.

Truth is, I love my life. I love it a lot! I feel so incredibly blessed to have the family I have, the wife I love, and the friends I cherish. I bet many of you feel the same way. If that’s the case, isn’t it time we start taking advantage of the moments we’ve been given? Isn’t it time we throw caution to the wind, stop worrying about all we have to get done or whether there’s enough money, and invest fully into the lives of our spouses, our children, and our friends?

Isn’t it time we stop reducing risk and just go for it? Isn’t it time we live?

Question: Have you found yourself worrying to much about trivial things? Have you told your children no more than you’ve told them yes? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Brian N Jennifer Rhodes

    GET OFF MY BACK!!!!!!!!!! 🙂 Seriously, these same thoughts have plagued me lately. I TRULY feel your pain. I think as father’s we feel a greater burden sometimes because we’re EXPECTED to support and protect our family’s. Not only is that society’s expectations, those are the expectation we all {should} place on ourselves. Honestly, that’s a role I feel honored to fill but it’s not easy. My own feelings and thoughts are impeded in an even greater way as I saw the struggle my own father endured by losing my mom tragically when my brother and I were very young. He was unprepared in many ways. From that moment I began a bad habit of trying to control everything around me rather than taking chances. I was only 7 but I would take great effort to prepare, prepare and OVER-prepare as best I could. I didn’t like surprises. I DO believe it is necessary, at times, to plan in advance. There is wisdom in purchasing life insurance policies and making sure your family will be taken care of in our absence but as Dad’s our kids don’t want money or things. They want us! The need us! I’m beginning to realize that I need to start thinking more like a grandfather than like a dad. I watch my own Dad now with my kids and he doesn’t sweat the small stuff. When my kids are in his presence everything else takes a back seat and they know it. They LOVE that time with their Poppa because they have his undivided attention. I don’t want my daughter to continue in the habit of saying, “I’m sorry…..I’m sorry….” after making every little mistake because she thinks I’m going to blow a gasket. She’s just like me in that she works too hard to control every detail. She has learned this from me and I pray we can, in some way, break the controlling aspect of this behavior and set about with a more healthy view of the importance of preparation but also relying on God to “work all things for my good.” Thanks for the reminder today. I needed that. I’m getting better but I’ve got a LONG way to go. Good luck as you continue your own journey!!!

    • Brian, thanks for your comment. I am with you- I’ve got a long long way to go. Praying for you on the journey as well!