Why Don’t You…

I’ve turned down the same great opportunity a few times. In a green room a couple weeks ago, Tyrus asked me why. “Why don’t you…”

Tyrus is just plain old Ty to me. He’s a friend from church I don’t get to hang out with often enough. I love him too much to lie.

“I’m afraid,” I said, and sat down across from him with a plate of pineapple and grilled chicken balanced on my leg.

“Afraid of what?” he asked.

“Afraid of failing and being wrong,” I said matter-of-factly.

Everyone who’s close to me knows this and doesn’t try to talk me out of it. I have a tremendous amount of fear when it comes to doing new things, taking risks, especially in public. Maybe it’s years of development under well-intentioned cautious parenting. Maybe it’s unhealed wounds from failing – in some ways – as a label recording artist. Maybe it’s genetics, or potty training, high fructose corn syrup, or middle school wedgies, or…

Ty didn’t wait for me to offer up any of these excuses. He was visibly irritated with me, the way good friends get when we fall short and then choose to stay down there believing the lie that we were made to wriggle through the dust on our bellies.

It must have been hard for him, the most gentle of all my friends, to speak such jagged words. But he slung them unapologetically, with confidence and precision, and all I could do was sit there emptied and found out.

As Ty saw it, if I really believed the stuff I say and sing from stages across North America, then I wouldn’t be such a practiced worshiper of fear. I’m being inconsistent at best, a complete fraud at worst – though he never used those words exactly.

Becky asked me, just an hour ago, “Why don’t you…” An excuse floated up from that well of why-nots inside and I opened my mouth to let it out. “Well,” I said, “it’s just that…I…well, you know, I…well…”

Ty’s words have been ricocheting around in me for a couple weeks now, knocking so many holes in old excuses that there’s not enough left of them to build even one complete sentence.

Why don’t you…