He followed hot on my heels, taunting me, “Come on, hit me. Why don’t you just hit me?” He kept it up until finally out of sheer frustration I would stupidly punch him in the arm. He was older, stronger and bigger.
He punched me back, laughing that I took the dare, yet again. He couldn’t hit me first (his rules of chivalry I guess, I really have no idea). I had to throw the first punch and then it was open season.
Later he got better at daring me, “Come on up the rope ladder!” he coaxed.
“I’m scared.” I wanted help.
He leaned over the edge and measured the distance between the bottom of the tree and the tree-house (or, hunk of dirty plywood) where he waited. He shrugged and inched back out of sight, “Well, if you don’t really want to…” He waited quietly, but when my foot touched the second rung of the ladder, his head popped back over the edge and he’d coach me up that frightening distance until I reached the top. “It’s scary at first, but you’ll get better at it.”
We crept through the bushes and he shushed me for making too much noise. “The neighbors will hear. Shh. You have to be quiet or we won’t hear them talking.”
“Hey, I’m scared. Mom will be mad if the neighbors catch us.”
“Well, OK. You wait right here if you don’t want to see what’s in the back yard over there…”
I couldn’t turn it down. I didn’t like being left out and I didn’t like being a chicken and I wanted to be daring and adventurous and brave like my two big brothers…but I wasn’t strong enough in my heart.
I never thought I would say this, but I’m glad that my brother dared me; that he challenged me outside of my comfort zone on many occasions and pushed me to do things beyond what I believed myself capable of doing.
My life has presented challenges, frustration, pain and obstacles I never imagined. But my God is there. In a good way. He coaches me over the rough patches and encourages me in my climbs and reminds me that while it might be scary, it will get easier with practice.
It’s not a perfect analogy because God has never taunted me into a boxing match—but I’ve been handed things that feel as though I’ve gone seven rounds in the ring. But I haven’t backed down yet.
And maybe someday I’ll be glad I’ve been dared—challenged outside my comfort zone on many occasions and pushed way beyond what I believed myself capable of doing.