When I was little, I always wanted to be twenty-three. My six-year old brain thought that by 23 I would married, have been in the same job for a couple of years and will have popped out a few children. In my mind, being 23 meant being settled.
And then I grew up.
And I began to think that each year that rolled around would mean more pain, more challenge, more destruction.
I have written many times before about how my schooldays were far from the best years of my life; but by the grace of God, my twenties have been pretty good thus far!
All through my life, I’ve craved settled-ness. I wanted to forgo excitement for stability and innovation for routine. Risk has always been a dirty word in my vocabulary. My six year old dreams wanted just that – settledness.
In the years since, I’ve had to learn to take risks. There was a time when the notion of tomorrow was a leap of faith, and I remember still, being challenged by the writer Marya Hornbacher who said:
“The leap of faith is this: You have to believe, or at least pretend you believe until you really believe it, that you are strong enough to take life face on.”
For me, that meant learning to live, rather than just subsist; to let people into the darkest parts of my mind so that they could help.
And, little by little, the risks got bigger.
Going away to Bible College, going on placement to a Psychiatric hospital, setting up ThinkTwice, agreeing to marry the love of my life.
The risks, more often than not, gave me the best experiences of my life.
Being 23, I don’t have the life I imagined aged 6. But I have a life I’m proud to live. One that actually I would never have imagined in my wildest dreams.
It’s more terrifying.
It is so worth that decision I made to “Choose life”.
Life is hard. It’s a struggle and it can break our hearts and send us reeling.
It can also bring us contentedness and comfort.
So often, I’ve been terrified to take that step, the one that could give me more to lose. There are still things I hold back on, in my desire not to fail.
In the 23 years (and beyond) ahead of me, I want to live boldly. I want to take risks – even if it means I’m less safe.
Do you know why?
Because I think that I’ve been called to this uncertain, risky life. To some of you reading, that may seem like madness. But I believe that I’ve got work to do. To change the way we think about mental illness and suicide. To help those whose lives have been ravaged by mental illness.
So I’m going to try and take a few more risks.
I’m going to take the ever-so cliched leap of faith.