Monday, June 23, 2014

The best risk

This journey of life has taken quite a turn since I last posted. I am now Rev. Kati Collins, or Mrs. Robert Edward Collins, whichever you prefer. On March 22, Robbie and I took our vows in the company of many wonderful witnesses, and we made a covenant of marriage before God and with God. Every day is a new adventure, and I am eternally grateful for my travel companion and mission partner for life.

We have already traveled many miles together, from the Grand Canyon and the Garden of the Gods to the lakes and pubs of Wisconsin, and now residing in our home in Nebraska. I'm learning what it means to be a wife and especially a Nebraskan wife. Robbie's working in a welding shop, and he comes home everyday covered in grime;) It's a good thing we have a good old traditional "mudroom", for his smelly clothes and dirty boots! When I don't have a meeting in the evening (and even some nights when I do), we love to play board games and cards together. It keeps him energized after a physically and mentally demanding day, and it gives me an outlet for my competitive energies, after a day of compassion and creativity. 

Lately we've been playing a lot of Texas Hold'em. I love to frustrate Robbie with my willingness to play even the worst of hands, but when luck doesn't fall my way, I'm learning that not every hand is worth playing, and following a bad hand to the end might even deplete the resources you've worked so hard to build. I love to see the "flop" turn out (the first three cards), and when there's still a chance for me to get that straight or flush, it kills me not to see the "river", or the final card, even though I know the probability of just the right card is incredibly low. I found myself matching Robbie's bets, sometimes just to see how things would turn out, rather than recognizing when I didn't have the right cards to play. Robbie, my worthy adversary, started making higher bets, because he knew I would match them, even if I didn't have the best cards. In the beginning, when luck was on my side, I was winning impractical hands right and left. But when luck ran out, I quickly lost all of my chips. 

Once I learned to control my urge to play every hand and match every bet, I became a more effective player, and my resources of chips last longer for a more pleasurable game, even when I don't always win in the end. Every hand has incredible potential at the start. Poker professionals might tell you a pair of two's isn't worth playing, but that pair of two's might bring you a full house if you give it the chance. The trick is recognizing when a risk is bringing in great rewards, and when a risk is bleeding you dry.

If only I could apply these betting strategies to my life, I thought, maybe I could keep a more effective use of my physical and emotional resources. I love betting on the underdog in life. I love going all in on a project to give it a chance to flourish. What would it look like if I recognized when a hand wasn't working out and put my resources into the projects that had more potential? How do I evaluate which projects are depleting my energy and which areas are driving me? Someone challenged a pastor friend of mine that when he said yes to doing something new, he had to say no to two other things. In the weeks following this, I realized that this wasn't necessarily a prescription for a healthy life, it was a description of reality. Frequently I see myself caught between choices of attending this meeting or that meeting, visiting this place or that place, participating/planning in this event or that event. When I focus my efforts on one thing, I have less resources to bet on another. This is a fact. The trick is to focus my efforts like my chips, betting on the commitments which will feed my soul and grow my abilities, so that I am better suited to face up to the next challenge. Sometimes I'll be forced to play a hand which drains my supply, but if I choose wisely in the hands to come, I can build it back up in another good game.

One thing is for sure, the risk of married life was worth taking;) When I make time for investing in our relationship, there are overflowing returns. This couple of odd cards, suited to match, is looking amazing so far!