There's so much in this world that kind of pressures you into being stronger than you'd want to have to be. There are times, chances, circumstances, that seem designed to test your mettle.
And I'm the kind of person who can be exceptionally strong and for awhile in my life, I kind of relished the challenge. There's not a whole lot of whatever this is that can break me, and there's a certain pride in that.
Then I saw a game of truth or dare on television a week or so ago, and I got a glimpse of something new.
There's always a little ruffle in my feathers when I think of a good dare, and just knowing the possibility is out there makes me tingle. A little intimidated and a little ready. Bolstering my bravado and ready to prove myself - even if I'm not playing! So when this came across my tv, I felt the same mix of intimidation and excitement, readiness and questions about just what would be a suitable dare for daytime television. Nothing that couldn't be lived down, but come on - these are ratings, people. It can't be boring, either. (And we've all known a droll dare or two, haven't we?)
After a couple of rounds of what I'd call simple truth - nothing groundbreaking, embarrassing, or all that revealing - the guest of the day finally fell on a dare.
Here we go.
You could kind of see it in her, too. The guest was a little intimidated, and you could see her pulling her courage to readiness. And a little flush of red in the host as she was about to lay this dare down on the table. Then there it was:
Do ten jumping jacks.
Oh horror of horror. It's the kind of dare that if we were sitting in the basement in our pajamas and someone dropped that bombshell of a challenge, we would roll our eyes and mock the challenger and plead for them to come up with something better. In fact, I think I did roll my eyes a little.
But I think this is exactly the kind of dare most of us need.
Because, at least for me, I'm too often so busy and so wound up and so ready to display my courage, so ready to be strong, so willing to stand in the face of tremendous circumstance to show my mettle...that a lot of days, you'd have to dare me to be silly.
And silly would be just what I need.
I think we take life too seriously. I think we look at our circumstance and determine that everything is something to be overcome. I think we look in the mirror and think we're not there yet, wherever there happens to be (and it's always changing) and decide we need to do something different. I think we're too willing to declare ourselves too slow or too weak or too unimportant and then start looking for ways to show ourselves fast, strong, and able. I think we look at life as one big challenge that we set out to conquer and for all our intensity and all our labor and all our bravado, we do just that but we've forgotten to live it and so we're really no happier than when we first began.
And I think there are a lot of us who are sick and tired of everything being a fight and who would like for a change to not have to be strong.
The first day God answered my aching heart and told me I didn't have to be strong any more, I broke down and cried. In that instant. It was that much of a relief to not be strong. It was easy, though, to find myself overtaken by weariness, too, and to lose my spark to do anything. That wasn't what He was after, either. He had to take away my fight, then dare me to dance.
Which, I guess, is how I became known as a girl who never wore shoes, who laid outside in a cold rain in January, who picks up the plastic candy cane and does a 1920s dance in the middle of Walmart to make her niece and nephew smile, who suddenly isn't afraid to make sound effects and goofy noises, who isn't so poised all the time, and who gets complimented on her smile more than she ever imagined possible. Among many other silly moments.
From one simple dare that didn't push me to be strong any more, that didn't push me to fight, that didn't push me to prove myself but rather just an invitation - an uningnorable invitation - to be what the mirror would have called foolish not so long before.
It's hardly foolish; it's fullness.
To adapt a popular country song, life don't have to be a bunch of drama, a bunch of knock-down, drag-outs, cryin' in the rain. (Easton Corbin) So the next time you feel like life is pushing your buttons, like you have to be strong one more day when you didn't even want to be that yesterday...dare instead to be silly and see what you come up with. Life is meant to be lived, not conquered. Smile a little. And dance.
I dare you.