A Secret to Living: Clumsiness is a Virtue



I’ve always poked fun at her for it.

The way the hardwood floors thunder when she walks. And it’s not because she’s heavy. In fact, she’s a tiny little thing – short and skinny.

It’s just that she’s heavy on her feet, this cousin of mine.

We’ve joked that she sounds like a herd of elephants walking down the upstairs hall.


All my life I’ve been warned to “be careful.”

I’m not allowed to drive down the dirt road late at night because that’s where local drug dealers lurk.

I’m not allowed to run most of the back country roads in the area.

I’m not allowed to walk through the shadows on my way out to the car after a long night’s shift.

And I’ve been warned more than once not to entertain thoughts of backpacking Europe alone.

The world doesn’t need more caution.

We know to pull away from a candle flame, we know to slam on the brakes at a red light, we know to cook the pink out of the chicken on the stove.

But yet we also know to keep working our day jobs because dreams don’t usually work out in our favor.

We know not to smile at that handsome boy or pretty girl he’ll just look away and she’ll turn back to her friends.

We know not to apply for that job because we’re hardly qualified.

We’re creatures of caution.

We watch characters chase down their dreams on the screen every night from the comfort of the sofa.

But what if we lived…dangerously?

What if we loved wildly, failed vigorously, and accepted grace with the reckless abandon of the Prodigal Son?

What would our lives look like then?


Donald Miller recently wrote in a post called “What If Your Life Could Be More Engaging Than Television:”

In America, the stories we are living are boring. And people are suffering the consequences of the American  dream. They hate their lives. We live vicariously through television shows and gossip magazines because our lives are insufferably meaningless.

For far too long, I’ve played it safe. I graduated college with a plan to expand my professional resume. I’ve kept people at arm’s length in fear of getting hurt. I’ve moved about in the world, shouldering the constant dread of what others think.

And it’s cost me too much already.

It’s shackled me to a boring story.

But like in all well-written stories, characters change. Sometimes it takes divine intervention or a car accident or the birth of a baby, and then sometimes it just takes a moment of consciousness.

A shift in reality while handing over your credit card for a grande iced skinny caramel macciato.


She’s taught me something, this cousin of mine.

That life is more about living out a redemptive kind of grace than the grace of body and speech.

Life is an education in mistakes.

It’s a call to be clumsy and reckless and unfettered.

It’s a call to stop living as others see us.

It’s a call to begin living as God sees us – as beautiful, free-spirited, messy creatures.

Perhaps only with our heavy steps will we leave behind our marks on the world.

The stakes are too great to err on the side of caution.

So tread heavily.


In what areas have you been treading a little too lightly lately?