Taking Risks

A little over a year ago I left my job with the Kansas City Royals to move to Southern California. I moved to pursue a girl and to pursue what was seemingly a very promising direction for my coaching career. I’ve talked about these pursuits in previous posts, but if you haven’t read those the short summary is it all fell apart. About 4 months after moving to California I quit my job because that place was an absolute mess, and a month or so after that I got dumped. I took a huge risk in leaving my job with the Royals to pursue these new opportunities and it didn’t work out at all.

While I ended up staying in California, finding a good job, a good church, and good friends, I still couldn’t shake off everything that happened. I got to a point where I had no idea what I was struggling with, all I knew was that I was struggling (I would later discover that I was just really burnt out). I needed a change. So I took another risk and left California to pursue a job in Alabama. Alabama is where I wanted to be. Out of all the places I’ve lived in the last several years it’s my favorite, and it’s where I can see myself settling down eventually.

I had an extremely promising opportunity to become a strength and conditioning coach at a Christian high school there. It seemed like a total God thing with thing after thing falling into place with this opportunity. It seemed like the perfect job just waiting for me. I drove to Alabama for a formal interview and left that interview with a cloud of confidence hovering over me. I had prepared for this opportunity like crazy and I crushed the interview. Then I was completely shocked when I found out they gave the job to someone else. Another big risk taken, another opportunity that didn’t work out at all.

As one of my friends put it, “I’ve taken a lot of Ls in the last year.” I kinda laughed when he said that but part of that chuckle was from the truth behind the statement. Although I feel like I’ve done a decent job at staying positive and seeking God throughout everything I can’t deny that I’ve been inconsistent at the same time. I’ve been frustrated, I’ve been discouraged, and I’ve had moments where I’ve wanted to separate myself from God and try to regain control of my life. I’ve had many moments when praying and seeking God was the last thing I wanted to do, and so I didn’t.

I’m sure a lot of y’all can relate, when thing after thing doesn’t go your way and you just reach a point where you start to question everything. I’ve wondered, am I being reckless for taking risk after risk? How much of this is “part of God’s plan” or whatever and how much of it is simply results from decisions I’ve made? Is there anything I could have done differently to have altered the outcomes so that they were more in my favor?

One thing I can say with certainty is that I don’t regret taking the risks that I took. I don’t regret moving to California to pursue the things that were out there. I don’t regret leaving California for the opportunity I had back in Alabama. While those opportunities fell through in big ways, they were moves that I felt very strongly that I had to make, that I wanted to make. When I step back and look at everything as a whole I’m proud of myself for having the boldness to take the risks I did in order to pursue what I wanted to pursue. I know that there are a lot of people out there that would be too scared to even consider taking the type of leaps of faith that I did.

Now, because these risks haven’t worked out I have definitely learned to deeper evaluate my decisions before I make them. As I mentioned earlier I have wondered if I’ve been too reckless, but I while I think there have been some small aspects of recklessness to my decisions I feel like those have been overshadowed by boldness. I think my ability to take big risks like I have comes from the confidence I have in myself. I’m aware it might seem like I’m giving out conflicting messages here. If I have so much confidence in myself then why am I questioning so much, and why have I been inconsistent with handling everything?

I do feel like in the midst of all the frustration, discouragement, and questioning I do have a faith in myself and a faith in God that is greater than those. Because of this I know I’m going to continue to take risks. I’m going to bet on myself and bet on God to pursue the things that I want to pursue. I’m glad I have this level of boldness, but I know I have to be careful to not try to take it all on myself. I mentioned a passage from the book of Daniel in a recent Instagram post. After finding out I didn’t get the job at that school in Alabama I read through Daniel chapter 2 where Daniel is confronted by one of King Nebuchadnezzar’s guards. The king was angry that nobody could interpret his dreams so his reaction was to send his guards out to kill “all the wise men of Babylon,” which included Daniel. A soon as the guard explained this to Daniel, “Daniel went in and requested the king to appoint him a time, that he might show the interpretation to the king” (Daniel 2:16).

After Daniel requested an appointment with the king he told his buddies “to seek mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery.” So they sought out God and God responded by giving Daniel the interpretation to the king’s dream. Oh yeah and before all of this the king said if anyone could not interpret his dream that they would die (2:5) so with that context it makes Daniels' decision to make an appointment with the king almost crazy. Boldness is an understatement and I think reckless could definitely be put in that same category. Daniel bet on himself and he bet on God. And God came through for him.

My favorite part of the book of Daniel is in chapter 3 when Daniel and his buddies refused to worship the golden idol that King Nebuchadnezzar set up. Even though the punishment for not worshipping the king’s idol was immediately being cast into a burning fiery furnace they told the king, “our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-17).

Again, these fellas are faced with the consequences of death but they bet on God and ultimately the king orders them to be sent into the fiery furnace where God protects them. When the Daniel and the guys walked out of the furnace one of the king’s counselors said, “but I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt.” They were all astonished and King Nebuchadnezzar responded by bowing down and praising God (Daniel 4:3).

I think Daniel is a great example of how someone doesn’t necessarily need to hear the distinct voice of God commanding to do something before making the decision to do it, and still having faith that God will provide. This is definitely what I relate to, especially with everything that’s happened in my life the last year or so. Although I took some Ls and faced difficulties and different ways than Daniel did, I believe I share in his boldness/recklessness to take risks and trust that God will provide.

This belief has fueled the big risk I most recently took: my move to Oregon. This past year has burnt me out from coaching, which I don’t plan on writing about much here; I might write about it in the future but we will see. So I made the decision to pursue something completely different: I moved up to Grant’s Pass, Oregon to become a wildland firefighter. This decision was a risk in many ways. First, I had to complete a 5 day training course in order to get certified as a type II wildland firefighter, so there was no guarantee that I’d make it through training and make it on a crew. Plus, it’s an extremely inconsistent job just by the nature of it. How much I work depends on many factors: mother nature, the crew I get on, and the decisions of the higher ups in the company.

At the time on my writing this post I have just successfully made it through training and I’m officially a type II wildland firefighter, but now I’m basically just waiting for a call to go work on a fire. This whole decision to step away from coaching for the time being and do something completely different has been exciting but it has also been somewhat stressful. That stress comes from the fact that for the first time really ever I’m in a position where I don’t know exactly what I want to do. For so long my passion has been baseball and strength and conditioning and ever since I left my job with the Royals, the job that I had worked extremely, extremely hard to get, I haven’t been able to find that desire to continue to pursue a career in strength and conditioning. The passion for coaching in a weight room has left, and although I think a break from the work could potentially bring it back, I can also see myself walked away from that career for good.

So now I’m in this uncomfortable, almost unnatural position where I have no idea what it is I want to do. I do know I could see myself falling in love with wildland firefighting and wanting to pursue it as a career. I could see myself moving back to Alabama because I’ve always loved Alabama; plus, that’s where I could really see myself starting a family. But honestly I just don’t know. It’s to the point where I’ve avoided telling people what my plans are because I’m kind of tired of telling people my plans only to have those plans fall apart.

Normally when I write a blog I’ll write a short outline to plan some structure for my posts, and to help my organize my thoughts and references to make sure that what I say flows smoothly. If this post doesn’t feel organized or smooth it’s because I didn’t write an outline lol. I literally just went to a Starbucks (the only real Starbucks in Grant’s Pass because this town is dominated by Dutch Bros, which seeing as how Dutch Bros started here I guess I get it), ordered my regular grande Pikes Place, and just wrote. I pretty much just organized my thoughts as they arose in my head, but I’ll end all of my ramblings with this.

Even though I’ve dealt with L after L, frustration, discouragement, and unknown after unknown, I do know that I’m going to keep pushing the boundaries of boldness and recklessness. I’m going to keep betting on myself and I’m going to keep betting on God. I do know that as I continue to grow that I will need to grow specifically in finding balance between taking risks for myself and understanding how it impacts those around me. I know when I become a husband and a father that I will be putting them before me and that will completely impact how I view risks, boldness, and recklessness. I do know that I need to be much more consistent in how I seek God, but I also confidently know that he will take care of me no matter what I do or where I go. Shoot, he might even literally protect me from fire just like he did for Daniel and his buddies.