When I was in sixth grade, we had a large mason jar in our math class. Every week, it would be filled with something- buttons, gummy bears, leggos, etc., and every week we had an estimation contest. I never, ever won. Want to know why? Because I’m terrible at estimation. I don’t guess right on anything- distance, time, numbers of people, how many miles I’ve got left in my gas tank… you get the idea.
If you know anything about me, you’ll know that my journey to April 8th, 2013 has been nothing less than unconventional. In fact, if I’ve ever been in a situation where there are guidelines and rules, I’ve probably danced outside of them. I took six years for my undergraduate degree (a B.A. in Business for Religious Organizations– what??). I went to seminary and took two and a half years to finish what is traditionally a two year program. I drove a pick-up truck with 250,000 miles on it. I was a flight attendant. I’m 27 years old and have never dated. I LOVE Twitter. I got to hold an Emmy. What I’m trying to say is this– Although I have many stories to tell, my life has been a collage of experiences and blind moves on my own little chess board.
Don’t get me wrong- I’m not complaining, nor do I regret anything
(for the most part). But what I’ve learned in my 9,952 days on this lovely planet is that life is nothing more than a series of games of “Guess and Check.” Maybe you believe in a God has some grand plan or maybe you don’t believe in God, or maybe you believe in fate– No matter your beliefs, the decisions you make are up to you, and realistically, you never know if you’ve made the right one or not.
I don’t know about you, but this sends me into a frenzy. On one hand, I’m really glad to know that everyone else is potentially making life-altering mistakes like I am. On the other hand, it’s terrifying to think I could be making life-altering mistakes! Although believe in the beauty of grace and that my mistakes will eventually work themselves out, it’s hard to move forward not knowing what potential risks you’re facing.
There’s a movie out there called “Love Happens,” starring Jennifer Aniston and Aaron Eckhart. At one point in the movie, Jennifer Aniston’s character, Eloise, addresses a mistake that Burke (played by Mr. Eckhart) made in not going to his wife’s funeral. During this little “Come-to-Jesus” meeting she says, “My life is a day to day experiment in really bad decisions.” As much as I want to respect and admire Eloise’s humility in addressing the fact that she’s not good at life choices, isn’t this a sentiment that everyone can relate to? Whether it’s picking a wrong restaurant for lunch or marrying the wrong person, each of us has a history of poor decision making.
Up till now, I’ve been preaching a lot of law, and I apologize, and while I’m the last person on earth qualified to give you a dose of gospel in this area, I’m going to try. I know I addressed this in an earlier blog post, but this is what it comes down to: You cannot live life with regret. You’re going to make decisions. With those decisions come mistakes. But at the same time, with decisions come GIGANTIC victories. Risk is scary, but where would anyone be if we didn’t risk something (at least once in a while)?
I get risk, trust me. I totally get it. I happen to be completely afraid of vulnerability- ANY kind of vulnerability. This means I end up living a very guarded life. Meanwhile, I’m cheering for everyone else, encouraging people to take great leaps of faith, and take risks, and not to fear failure. I have a master’s degree in this, for crying out loud. But for some reason, my own fears and vulnerabilities get in the way when I try to apply what I want for other people to my own life. I think if we all take a second to think about it for a second, we come to the conclusion that VULNERABILITY SUCKS. The only way to get around it, though, is to get over it– unless, of course, you don’t mind living your life alone and with very little to show. Because, you know what? Sure, taking risks involves being completely vulnerable, but the only way to succeed is if you embrace it, and take that leap into a great unknown.
Like I mentioned earlier, I’m terrible at estimation. The only thing I’m somewhat good at estimation is the price of things (mostly because I spent the better portion of my childhood watching Supermarket Sweep). But, major life decisions? I can’t even handle it. And let me tell you, most of my decisions are in the “guess” category. I’m never sure of anything. I could pray, and pray, and pray till the cows come home, but are we ever REALLY sure? I mean… really…. are we ever REALLY sure of anything? And sometimes, I make really bad guesses. However, I don’t believe in a God that’s going to hang me out to dry if I make a wrong turn. Instead, I believe in a God who loves me enough to work through any situation, and get me turned in the right direction.
I hate guessing because I hate being wrong. But I’ve realized that while you may be wrong (and you may be wrong a lot), you also might get it right. Embrace the guessing. Embrace the estimation. The only way to move forward is to guess which way to step. But also know that the reality of the “check” is there too. Life is full of “Guess and Check,” I just wish they would have told us they were teaching us a major life lesson in 6th grade math when we were guessing how many paper clips were in the jar.
As much as I hate guessing and hate vulnerability, I can’t help but come back to this final thought: The beauty of the “Guess and Check” game of life is that if “check” comes back and says “wrong guess,” you get to guess again. Eventually, you’ll guess right.