Out on a limb
I thought this photo was fitting because I am kinda, sorta standing out on a limb. More like a ledge. You get the drift. (Chattanooga, Tennessee)
You know when you go out on a limb for somebody, or something — you hold your breath after you say something final or make a big decision and hope that the other end will come through or approve or affirm so that you can exhale and feel at peace.
There is a moment of silence, a pause after you do the thing. You took a big, fat risk and now you’re kind of just out there and at the mercy of a response. But then they say, “you’re right,” or “yes,” or “I agree,” or “you got the job,” or “I love you too,” or “that’s brilliant.” And suddenly your blood continues to run through your veins and all of your organs start functioning again.
Still, for a split second, it really could have gone either way. What is an I’m-so-glad-I-said-something (or did something) moment could’ve been a huge, gosh-dang loss or embarrassment or OH CRAP moment.
I know that split second. I know that split second well and I know it now.
Sometimes it’s quick. The pause is swift and barely enough time to blink or just enough time to pee a little. They respond, you’re relieved, and you can tuck that moment away into your pocket of successful risks. But, other times, the inbetween, waiting-game pause is long. It isn’t a literal lapse in conversation, but rather a breath so long it would kill you to hold it in. Minutes. Days. Months.
So, what happens then?
You’re out there. You’re vulnerable. You made the call or said the words or drew the line. And you really don’t quite know if it’s worth it yet — or if it’ll pay off. But you’re hoping. And in my case, you’re praying. Like a lot.
I think moments like that — big decisions or now-or-never conversations — are shockingly invigorating. Your palms are sweaty, you can feel your pulse in all the weird spots and you have a surge of adrenaline. Even if those initial feelings of breakthrough courage dwindle as time goes on, their remains still linger in your bones and in your brain. Taking risks and making big calls build character. They force you to show up — to feel all the feelings and face them. They call you out and call you higher.
More importantly, though, when you go out on a limb, one pressing question rises above the rest: What are you going to hold onto?
Whether an actual person or an ideology or a habit — we all grapple for some sort of stabilizer.
Like I said, I know the split second right now. Except for me, the split second is about a trillion split seconds strapped on top of one another. It’ll be a handful of months before I really know if my call was the right one.
But, I know what I’m holding onto. God in the bod — JC — the giver of all good things. That’s Jesus. And I know that He told me while I prayed in preparation, and continues to tell me, that in my case, there is no such thing as a right call or a wrong call. That answer really isn’t the same in all situations, but for me, it was a choice between good and good — a choice to determine something that could possibly be better.
So, I’m resting. I’m leaning into the pause and drinking it up with big gulps. Because the unknown can be nerve-wracking and stress-inducing — what if what I thought is better is actually not better — but it is also an opportunity to check myself.
What am I holding onto? Who am I holding onto? And what does the guy in my corner, Jesus, say about the whole thing?
There is nowhere I can go that He will not dwell. Even if the thing is really, really hard, it’s soaked and dripping with purpose. And I am so game. Because I know that I will be better because of it.
“Let me experience your faithful love in the morning, for I trust in you. Reveal to me the way I should go, because I appeal to you. Rescue me from my enemies, Lord; for I hide myself in you. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious spirit lead me forward on firm footing.” (Psalm 143:8-10)