This week my world turned upside down.
Well, not literally “my world.” More precisely, it was my SUV that turned upside down.
And it wasn’t so much that my SUV was upside down on a dirt road, as it was my daughter hanging upside down from her seatbelt.
Yes, she’s fine — everyone’s fine.
Well, maybe not everyone. Dad’s wallet is suffering some sprains and contusions.
You see, I wasn’t carrying collision insurance, and the SUV was totaled. With the cost of insuring three teenagers, I’d dropped the expensive collision coverage in favor of eating three meals a day. It was an attempt to balance the risk between paying exorbitant premiums and possibly paying out-of-pocket to replace our older vehicle.
The insurance agent warned me about the risk of dropping my collision coverage. She urged caution, saying the car still had a lot of life left in it.
Of course it did, and it gave that life to save my daughter, for which I am eternally grateful. If there is anything I want to kick right now, it’s me.
What was I thinking?
I’ll tell you what I was thinking. Salespeople like to scare you with that word “risk,” as in: “Do you want to take a risk not buying an extended warranty with that washing machine, Mrs. Burkes?”
Hey, she married me, didn’t she? An extended warranty isn’t even in her vocabulary.
But this whole experience has caused me to think more about our society’s relationship with “risk.” We want to insure it, prevent it, manage it, cure it, readjust it, reposition it, balance it and deny it. Risk shines a light on our vulnerabilities, and like a molting crustacean, we want to hide under a rock and be protected from it.
But the biggest risk we’ll ever take is loving someone, because love freely given comes with no guarantees. And the people we love are under no obligation to return that love.
In loving my child, or anyone for that matter, I have to take risks. I have to put my heart on the line — with no collision insurance — and trust God will conspire to keep us safe so neither of us ends up totaled on a dirt road.
Jesus knew something about the risk of relationships. He risked everything to disciple a group of anglers. Perhaps Jesus was teaching us how futile it is to try to get insurance on love. After all, he asked Peter three times. “Do you love me?” And Peter replied each time “You know it.”
Yet Peter was the one who refused to risk following Jesus to the crucifixion. Instead he denied he ever knew Jesus. Peter knew too well the risk of colliding with the Romans. And Jesus was totaled, and Peter was left hanging in his seatbelt.
I knew allowing my child access to something as powerful as an SUV had its risks. Maybe by denying the collision insurance, I was convincing myself that no harm could come to her. I had my own “Peter” moment as the insurance agent asked me, “Are you sure, Mr. Burkes, that you want to drop this coverage?”
My own experience of denial — and resurrection.
Because this past week my daughter walked — or more accurately limped — across the stage to get her diploma. And it occurred to me there can be no limit to the amount of love I invest in her, and that every bit of risk I take in being her dad is worth it.
And realizing that puts my world right side up.