When I think about risk (the Worship Theme for this month), and the riskiest things I’ve ever done, I think about a lot of things. The motorcycles I’ve ridden, the cross country move for school in a profession I couldn’t know if I’d ever work in, the girlfriends I had, that time I went on a cross country journey with nothing more than a cargo van to sleep in and a few hundred dollars to my name. But somehow all of them pale in comparison to bringing children into this world.
As I write this I’m at home with a sick child, one who saw the doctor this morning and will be better soon. But daycare is a breeding ground for germs, and all the handwashing in the world won’t change that fact. Having children is in so many ways the most selfish and risky thing many of us will ever do. We bring into the world another human life, one that we can know almost nothing about beforehand, and we bring that child into a world about which there is precious little we can promise.
Who will this new person be? Will they be glad they were born? Will we rise to the challenge of loving them into adulthood? Will we be there for them when they need us? Will we be together as a family in the years ahead? If talking with our children about the long-term implications of pets is a lesson in responsibility, it pales in comparison to the kinds of unknowns that come with having a child.
Years ago I knew a man who said he never planned to have children, a perfectly valid position as far as I’m concerned, though not the one I took. He said he was worried that he wouldn’t be able to teach his children the critical reasoning skills he thought they would need to make it successfully as adults. It seemed like wherever critical reasoning skills lay on my list of priorities, it at least wasn’t the veto power on having kids. There are so many more risks to worry about.
As it stands, my oldest has been in six different schools, lived in five different states, and at least 9 different homes. She’s watched her parents transition from jobs and schools. And through it all we’ve had to trust that we would do the best we could, and hope it would be enough. We’ve had to work to build the foundations that we hope will endure.
We don’t know what the job market will look like when our girls are young women looking to set out on their own. We don’t know whether the world will be at war or peace. We don’t know if global climate change will have been halted. We don’t know the future, and yet we persist. Persist in believing that life is valuable and worth living and sharing and building. It’s risky, it’s full of unknowns. But if we believe that there is more love, then for us there will always be risks worth taking, in all their many forms, and then we get to live into the consequences as best we are able for as long as we can.
Life is full of risks because the future is still unfolding. So whichever risks are the right ones for you, may you take them, and persist in living into the world that is yet waiting to be born.