I met my friend Chris when he was in eighth grade and I was the youth pastor at his church. He grew up like the huge majority of the kids that I knew then. He had a stable home environment, he was bright, all of his essential needs – both physical and emotional – were met and he had a clear path in his mind that included college.
When he graduated from high school he was headed to the University of Texas in Austin to study engineering. During that first year something happened.
There is that question that people get asked occasionally. It goes something like, “If you knew you couldn’t fail and money were no object, what would you do?” For many people that’s an easy question to answer and even for those who have trouble answering that question, I suspect they know what they want to say but are frightened by the answer. The challenge in that question is having the courage to chase after whatever that question stirs up.
Chris realized that he didn’t want to be an engineer. He could have been good at it and on paper it looked like the perfect option for him. But who he was created to be didn’t line up with the numbers.
After some serious soul-searching Chris realized those things that stirred his passions and found the courage to chase after them. He is doing what so many of us would never dare to do. Even though I had nothing to do with any of the events that led Chris down this path, I’m proud of him…and excited.
I’m excited at what he will discover about himself and the world around him. I’m excited about where his journey will take him and who he will meet along the way. He is traveling the unbeaten path that only he can travel and that most people don’t even know how to start.
I had breakfast with Chris’ dad not long ago. Michael told me that his boy was living in Alaska, doing well and learning a lot. While there was a touch of concern in his voice, it was clear that he had faith in his son’s choices and was confident that he was going to be just fine.
My kids are fast approaching that time in their lives when they will have the answer the “if you knew you couldn’t fail” question. I wonder how they will answer it. I wonder if they will gather the courage it will take to embrace whatever they discover.
I wonder what would have happened if Chris had waited. What would he have done had he not given himself to pursuing the life he sees he was meant to live until he was thirty?…or forty?…or fifty? It’s common to think that as you get older your ability to fully pursue your passion becomes next to impossible. It’s a bit like learning to roller skate for the first time when you’re fifty as opposed to learning when you’re five. It’s not impossible.
There are just a few more fears to overcome.