Shakespeare famously said, “to be or not to be, that is the question.” And I would add, to risk or not to risk that is the question, for to be alive—to be—is to risk.
Starting with the fact that from a purely natural perspective, we exist due to our parents’ planning or negligence. All of us get but one chance in the genetic lottery, surely the riskiest of them all. We have no choice in the matter, and our parents have far less influence than they may have imagined when they chose a life partner. If they even thought of it.
Not to mention how risky it is to choose a marriage partner. When you are young and in love and know everything, you may feel certain you have found “the one.” But chances are that in a few years or even months into marriage you will begin to have nagging doubts, if not downright regret, about your choice. There are no guarantees in life or love as the consistently high divorce rate proves.
The genetic lottery comes into play again if you have children. Even if you and your spouse are healthy, you may have children who are not. And even if you have physical or mental challenges your children may be well and strong. It feels like the luck of the draw or an act of fate or of God, depending on your belief system.
If you believe that God guides your choices, that God oversees the developing fetus and decrees the path of their life, it decreases the sense of risk, but does nothing to give you control of the outcomes.
Making what appears to be a safe choice still involves a degree of risk. For example, if you decide to pass up a new job offer or a move to avoid the uncertainty of the unknown, you risk passing up an opportunity for something challenging and rewarding.
It seems for every risk there is an equal or opposite risk. It’s much like the thrill of victory versus the agony of defeat. There is:
- The risk of faith/religion vs the risk of missing the richness that faith can bring to your life
- The risk of forgiving vs carrying a burden of resentment and anger
- The risk of loving vs not loving and winding up friendless and alone
- The risk of medical procedures vs missing out on life-saving treatment
- The risk of side effects from vaccines vs the risk of more serious illness
- The risk of a healthy diet vs enjoying your favorite foods
- The risk of confrontation vs burying pain and anger
- The risk of therapy vs struggling with problems on your own
If you are prone to anxiety and have read this far you may be on the verge of panic at the thought of so much risk. If you are more courageous you may be intrigued, ready for a new adventure. Either way we live with risk daily whether aware of it or not. Thoughtfulness, good judgement and trust in something or someone bigger than you, can see you through life’s challenges and give you courage to take risks.
So, what will it be—paralysis or adventure? The status quo or something new?
Either way, it is a risk. You can embrace it or try to avoid it. The choice is yours.
I am a North Carolina Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor with 20 years experience in the field and many more years of life experience. I entered the counseling profession in mid-life after putting in time as a stay-at-home mom, a freelance writer, a journalist, and a United States-based missionary. I love walking alongside those who are seeking to find themselves, heal a relationship, or recover from trauma. In my spare time, I enjoy reading, writing, and hanging out with my grandsons.