By Erich Wallace
Something came up recently that has been lingering in my mind and heart over the last several months: the idea of adventure. When you type in “definition of adventure” in Google, it defines adventure as, “an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous experience or activity.” In my experience, it seems most Americans wait for the weekend, a big trip, or an intoxicated Friday night to experience adventure, but that the rest of the week is… boring. Is this what we Christians have to accept when we become adults? A boring existence of trying avoid the fun in life of sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll so we can be “good” enough to get to heaven? I think God has more in store for us. I believe we can move from our perception of life as ‘boring’ to one of life as ‘adventure’ if we begin to see each day as an opportunity for growth and improvement, if we learn to take suggestions from other people on things we might enjoy, and if we commit to doing acts of kindness and self-denial each day.
First off, if you begin to see each day as an opportunity to get out of your comfort zone, to be better than you were the day before, and to grow as a human being, life becomes an adventure. Think about it: why do you think men are so obsessed with sports or games? We love being able to show off our ability to overcome; to engage in a struggle and win. And when we don’t win, we have a burning desire to go back to the drawing board and reflect on why we failed. Then, in the quiet of our homes, we strive to practice, to improve, and to come back victorious the next time. There is a real joy in that. Translate this mentality to everyday life: if you have a desire to pray more, Philip Kosloski (author of Finding Time to Pray: How to Design a (Nearly) Unbreakable Habit of Prayer) tells us to fill out a time log of all you do in a week, find the slots of time that are open, decide when you will pray, and commit to it.1 If you want to be a better spouse, do the same thing; find a time you will set aside to go out with your significant other and to spend some quality time together. If you’re struggling with always yelling at your kids, being short with coworkers, or any other type of vice, set specific goals to improve on the areas of sin in your life and challenge yourself to get better. Just like lifting weights or trying to run a faster 5K, if you’re setting goals and striving each day to reach them, life is never boring. Another way that life becomes more adventurous is by saying “yes” to suggestions from others.
Over the last couple of years I began to see the value in taking suggestions from other people: whether it be a restaurant to try, a new opportunity, a new spiritual practice, etc. I started to realize that almost every time I took someone’s suggestion, I was thankful I did. One suggestion I took a few summers ago was to apply to be a Totus Tuus missionary. I did not feel worthy or ready to take on such a role, but I’m so thankful I did. That summer changed my life and set it on a bit of a new trajectory. I was really struggling with an unhealthy situation for quite some time, and that summer is what allowed me to break free from it, to meet many wonderful people in the Diocese of Superior, and to give me more confidence in making decisions in my life. A smaller way I’ve begun to say yes to suggestions is with the menu at restaurants. I’m the kind of guy who could literally eat the same food every day for 15 years and be okay with it, and although I’ve never really been a picky eater, I’ve begun asking for the waiter’s or friend’s suggestion on what their favorite dishes are and ordered them over what I may have personally preferred. It has totally broadened my horizons and made life more rich. This too can become a spiritual practice, as it can help to deny oneself, and prefer the interests of others over one’s own in all areas of life, as St. Paul calls for in his letter to the Philippians. A third way to make life more adventurous is to intentionally decide to do kind, selfless acts every day.
I heard it said that St. Thérèse of Lisieux would keep a decade of the rosary in her pocket and each day turn each bead on that decade into an act of self denial or love for someone else. Although I do not keep a decade and go out of my way ten times a day to deny myself or to do a selfless act for someone else, it has made me more aware of opportunities for self-denial or selflessness, and these opportunities make life much more fun. They can be as simple as emptying the dishwasher for the people you live with, sticking around and conversing with someone when you’d rather be completing a task, sending someone an encouraging note, or buying someone a small gift like some chocolate or a bouncy house. I’m sure if you’ve ever read an article about how to be happy that you know one tip that always tops the list is to strive to make others happy. God didn’t make us this way by mistake. He calls us to love Him and to love one another. When we do these things, life is an adventure.
I am not saying that one shouldn’t look forward to planning fun things to do on the weekends like hiking mountains, driving to Madison just to go to Chick-Fil-A, skydiving, or backpacking through Europe. What I am saying, though, is that life really should never be seen as boring because if you challenge yourself to improve as a human being and as a follower of Christ each day, if you start saying “yes” to the suggestions others have to offer you, and if you intentionally deny yourself or perform acts of kindness for others on a regular basis, your life will always be an adventure. Adventure on my friends…
1 Kosloski, Philip. Finding Time to Pray: How to Design a (Nearly) Unbreakable Habit of Prayer. Philip A. Kosloski, 2015.