All In

I think we’ve all had that moment: we look at the life before us and think, “This isn’t what I signed up for… this isn’t what I wanted… or this isn’t how I expected it to be….”

Those moments give me pause.  Then my raw, unfiltered emotions find outlet in questions like, “what did I do wrong?” or “what if I made a mistake?”  And if I’m honest, those questions pave a slippery slope to self-condemnation, doubt, or discouragement.

More and more, I’m learning to respond with a new set of questions: “what do I believe? right here, in this mess, in this detour, in this heartbreak, in this tragedy… what do I believe right here?  am I living what I believe? or am I believing what I live?” 

I believe asking better questions elicits better answers.  And when it comes to heartbreak… to the unexpected detours… to the unwanted curveballs… how we respond determines how we live. Because we have a choice: We go all in, or we hedge our bets.

I hedge my bets when I avoid situations where I don’t know the outcome, or the most likely outcome is disappointment. I’d rather not try and then just be disappointed. Yes, I might miss out on something amazing, but since I don’t know what that amazing is now, am I really missing it? And wouldn’t it be worse to be disappointed again?

I hedge my bets when I’m half-heartedly trying again. Okay, I’m here, I’m giving it a go, but no, I’m not really investing my heart in this. No, I’m not going to tell anyone I’m doing this. No, I don’t want to get my expectations up.

I hedge my bets whenever I try to control the situation, the relationship, or the circumstances to avoid heartbreak. I’m pretending to be the master of the universe.    Because I’m not interested in a universe that dishes out more awful heartbreak.  That’s why I love fairy tales (and Disney movies).  Nearly every single one ends with three beautiful words: happily. ever. after. I want the happily ever after, but I’d rather settle for happy today than risk getting my heart broken tomorrow.

What if, in those moments where I saw the possibility of heartbreak, I determined to see the probability of joy?

What if, instead of resigning myself to what is, I sought to explore what could be?

What if, in those moments of doubt, I stepped out in faith?

What if, instead of hedging my bets, I decided to go “all in?”

Here’s what I know: when I choose to go “all in,” I begin to taste the fullness of what could be, and I can’t ever settle for less.

That’s a truth I understand. I’ve lived it. I know awful heartbreak. I was planning a wedding and all the days after “I do,” and then… I wasn’t. I became well acquainted with awful heartbreak, and then did my fair share of pondering whether anything was worth that kind of pain.

Ultimately, the answer was, and is, yes. I had tasted real love, and I knew that I would rather have the pain I found than to never have had the love I lost.

So it was surprising and not surprising when a blind date turned into a relationship, and that relationship quickly became “I love you,” and then “I do.” It was surprising because my now husband was the first real date after that awful heartbreak.  But it wasn’t surprising because I knew the risk was worth the reward, and once you’ve lived through awful heartbreak, you know you can live through awful heartbreak.  The question is whether you’re interested in the fullness of what could be.

Ten years later, this is still a truth I need to remind myself whenever I find myself hedging my bets.

Because if I accept good enough long enough, I begin believing what I live, rather than what I believe.  But I’ve come to realize that believing what I live erodes my faith, breeds discontent, feeds my inner critic, and limits my horizons.

When I choose to live what I believe, what I believe speaks truth over my circumstances, strengthening my faith.  Living what I believe gives me vision for what can be, unhindered by what is. Living what I believe inspires me to go “all in” and chase my dreams with confidence.

Friends, last summer I took a huge step of faith.  I chose to go “all in” pursuing my own writing projects… launching my own website, freelancing, and pitching a book proposal to a well-known publisher.  Six months later it would be so. much. easier. to hedge my bets and take my foot off the gas.  But for me, there’s joy in the writing, no matter who reads it, and I’ve mustered enough faith to go this far, why not keep going and explore what could be?

And I wonder, what about you?  Where are you hedging your bets? Have you resigned yourself to what is, or are you willing to explore what could be?  Where might you step out in faith and go “all in?”

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