“Just relax and step back to the edge of the cliff and lean back ….” My cousin reminded me how safe rappelling was as he clipped me into the climbing gear. I’m scared of heights so I needed the reminder. He reassured me my first rappelling experience would be fine. I was on top of Bathtub Rock in City of Rocks Idaho enjoying a family reunion activity. As I recall the ledge was 100 miles down! (In reality probably only 25 or so feet.) I followed his instructions carefully and leaned back and began to walk backwards off the cliff. After I was three or four feet below the cliff ledge he instructed me to lean back further. I did.
The rope came unclipped from climbing harness.
There I am hanging on to the rope with my hands, about 99 miles up (or 20 feet) unhooked from harness. The panic was setting in. I was terrified.
WE TAKE RISK EVERY DAY
Risk is woven into the fabric of our lives. Risk occurs when it involves a new unfamiliar experience AND we don’t know how things will turn out. For example when we drive to work, we don’t know for sure if we’re going to get into an accident; When we give our first talk in sacrament meeting, we don’t know exactly how we’re going to perform; When we share a personal feeling to a family member, we don’t know if they’re going to get mad; Or When we go rappelling, we don’t know if we’re going to become unclipped from the harness :). (Interesting enough, this means that God takes no risks because He always knows the outcome of all choices before they happen.) I believe God intends for us to experience a little fear/anxiety in our lives (okay – sometimes a lot) and to act in uncertainty about the outcome of our decisions. Why? Because it brings incredible personal growth and strengthens our faith to take RISKS.
CHANGE CANNOT OCCUR WITHOUT TAKING RISK
“To be sure, there is a risk associated with learning (or doing) something new…” (Standing Together for the Cause of Christ, Jeffrey R. Holland, Ensign August 2012)
When you take risk you have to accept you might fail, it might not work, and things could get worse. There is no promise that your every effort for change will succeed.
John the Baptist risked calling King Herod an adulterer when he divorced his own wife in order to take his brother’s wife. For this John got his head chopped off. And he had done right to risk his life for the cause of God and truth. (By the way Jesus had no criticism for John, only the highest praise Matthew 11:11).
Synonyms for Risk: danger, peril, jeopardy, hazard …
Anyone who has ever tried to change a long-standing destructive habit like viewing porn, anger, nagging, swearing, etc etc knows the MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR TO CHANGE is the courage and motivation to take the risk to make the change – NOT the less important factors of knowing what to do or how to do it. (Think about it. Do you really not have even one impression of one behavior you could do to improve your life? AND Do you really not have even one idea of how to accomplish that goal? If you answer NO to both these questions -you need to call me! You are suffering from the dreaded – Counselitis.)
My years of counseling has reminded me time and time again YOU –if you’re honest with yourself –have an idea of what it is you need to do to improve your life and a thought or two of how to do it. What you typical need most is the motivation and courage to “take the risk and do it.”
THE MORMON LIFE IS A CALL TO TAKE RISK
For example, “I DARE YOU….”
- To read the Book of Mormon and ask if it’s true
- To wear modest clothing
- To walk out of a movie when it is inappropriate
- To say no to alcohol
- To give a talk in Sacrament meeting
- etc etc
“The gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to change RISK. ….The purpose of the gospel is to transform common creatures into celestial citizens, and that requires change TAKING RISK.” (Repentance and Change, Ensign, October 2003, Dallin H. Oaks. I added “Risk and Taking risk”)
Queen Esther is an example of courageous risk. Mordecai, a Jew sent word to Esther the queen, to go before the king and plead for him not to exterminate the Jews. But Esther knew there was a royal law that anyone who approached the king without being called would be put to death, unless he lifted his golden scepter. Esther sent her response to Mordecai which included these words: “Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:15-16) Of course Esther didn’t parish and she saved the Jews.
From Joseph Smith’s history we read, “While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists,” he was reading James 1:5. So impressed by this verse he concluded: “…I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God. I at length came to the determination to ‘ask of God,’…” He risked and chose to go to the grove and put James’s scripture to the test! Of course you know the rest of the story. (Joseph Smith History)
Or how about the Prophet Abinadi preaching in front of the wicked King Noah and his priests. Abinadi risks his life by speaking the truth. When given a chance to “recall all his words” Abinadi responded “I will not recall the words which I have spoken unto you concerning this people, for they are true;… I will suffer even until death, …” (Mosiah 17: 9-10). As a result of Abinadi’s risk we discover a few verses later he was put to death by fire. (Mosiah 17: 13)
Other stories of individuals taking risks:
- David and Goliath (Samuel 17)
- Daniel in the Lion’s Den (Daniel 6)
- Alma the younger and Sons of Mosiah going to the Lamanites (Alma 17)
- etc etc.
Listen closely to the next story you hear from the scriptures and search for the person taking a risk.
PARABLE OF THE TALENTS
“And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey“ The third servant who was given only one talent said the following: “And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth...” The “unprofitable servant” was unwilling to take the RISK of loosing his talent – a risk the two profitable servants took with faith. The unprofitable servant eventually was “cast … into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 25:14–30)
I dare you…
From your personal impressions select ONE behavior
– Tell someone you normally don’t tell, “I love you.”
– Nourish your spirit. (See: Spiritual Anorexia)
– For one day –Say only positive things to your spouse-or shut up.
– Train for and compete in a Mini-Triathlon
– “Faith” someone you love-that needs it. (See: You Get What You Faith For)
– Share a personal weakness of yours to a trusted family or friend. Ask for their help.
– Make an appointment with your bishop. Take care of unfinished business.
– etc. etc.
(Might you be afraid? nervous? hesitant? – of course remember that’s why we call it risk.)
And take the RISK and do it.