My friend Sam called me courageous the other day. That word is a lot to live up to. Especially when it comes to love, which was the context of her compliment.
I am courageous around love.
That's even more to live up to, because Love is a Big Scary Mess.
Utterly exposing yourself to the people you care about and respect? Egads. Put me back on my safe, comfortable couch out of harm's way.
My friend is right, though. I have often, and repeatedly, chosen to love in spite of the high risks involved.
To know why, you have to look at why not. Yes, I'm talking about fear again. In my mind, you can't choose one without consciously not choosing the other.
Fear can convince you that it's nearly impossible to get what you want, and that it's better (safer) to make do with what you have. At least you have that already and you don't have to risk losing it in the process.
It's like the game, Let's Make a Deal. Host Monty Hall gives you a nice toaster and asks you to risk it for what's behind two doors. One contains a new car, and the other has a sad looking can of Spam and means the audience laughs at you. Let's be honest, that is part of the risk; everyone watching you make the choice.
Fear says: you don't know what's behind either door. If you risk what you have, you could end up with less.
It forgets to mention that just as likely you can end up with more.
You have the same chance of getting the car, the partner, the career of your dreams by looking at what's behind door number one.
The case could be made that 50-50 is very good odds.
You've gotta be OK about the Spam to choose a door. Because, whatever, you'll get over it; the opportunity to win a car is too good to pass up; or the toaster is not good enough to not risk it.
You see where I'm going with this metaphor.
That sad can of Spam is your heart getting stomped into tiny pieces. Feeling wounded, rejected, your love not returned.
The toaster is wherever you are now. The relationship that is o-k but not great. Being fine with being by yourself; keeping yourself busy so you don't notice.
The car. You know what the car is. You might not want to think about it, but the car is what keeps most of us going.
It's love from family, friends, the best relationship you've ever had. It's what you've always wanted, and it's behind that door if you're willing to open it.
I'm the one in the audience, jumping up and down in a cow costume screaming for you to open the door. Go for it! You deserve better than that toaster!
The good news is that love is not Let's Make a Deal. It's better. There are more than two doors, and you don't go in completely blind to the choice each time.
That means the odds are even more in your favor.
And they get better every time you step away from the couch and unabashedly love the people in your life. That makes love coming back to you a sure thing, perhaps from somewhere you'd never expect.
That is, I think, why my friend called me courageous.
But, I can live with Spam. I can't live with knowing that I didn't go after the car. I believe that the car exists, is perfect for me, and is possible to win.
Believing in love gives me courage. The courage to give love.
The more love I give, the more love comes back to me in ways I can't imagine.
Winning the car makes the risk worthwhile. Every time.
Go for the car. Go after the love you want from the people you care about most.
The odds are in your favor.