I would love to explore the United States, and I often try to convince my husband to hop in an RV and travel for a year.

But traveling around the world terrifies me. What if I don’t understand something? What if I look stupid? What if I offend someone? What if I find myself in a scary situation?

Some of those are legitimate fears, but at the end of the day, maybe that’s the whole point of exploring—to get out of your comfort zone and let go of control so that you can truly experience the world.

***

Nine months after Sean and I got married, we sold our condo in Maryland (where we’d lived all of our lives) and moved to the southwestern corner of Utah…where we knew no one. Although we only lived there for two years before moving our growing family back east, it really was the adventure of a lifetime, and we learned so much as a couple from that time away from “home.”

One of our favorite parts of living in Utah was all that there was to explore around us. National parks, state parks, reserves…we would head out on a different adventure almost every weekend. One afternoon, we decided to drive to the Grand Canyon. Our real estate agent had told us that it was just a hop and a skip down a back road behind our neighborhood, so we packed a few snacks and hopped in our car to find it.

An hour or so later, we found ourselves virtually lost in the woods. We were still on a road, but it was more of a trail at that point, and we hadn’t seen another human being for miles and miles. We were starting to worry about our gas and water reserves, but we felt like we must be close (this was the days before GPS, and we didn’t even have a map!). Eventually, we came across a tiny ranger station, where thankfully they gave us a map and pointed us in the right direction of the Canyon as well as an easier way to get back home when we were done.

Sure enough, within 15 minutes we found ourselves standing at the edge of a completely uncommercialized part of the Grand Canyon. There wasn’t even a railing between us and the incredible gorge in front of us.

These days, with 5 kids relying on us and 12 extra years of wisdom, we probably wouldn’t ever even set out on an adventure like that one, but I’m kind of glad we were stupid enough to do it at the time because it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life (as evidenced by the fact that even though I don’t keep hardly any mementos, I still have that map!).

***

Safety and caution are important, of course, but we can’t let fear paralyze us and keep us from experiencing things either. In order to truly explore and discover the world, there has to be a balance between preparing for what you can and being willing to embrace the unknown and the unfamiliar.

It’s scary to do that, but the rewards are worth it!

ACTIVITIES & QUESTIONS

1. Can you think of a time when you stepped outside of your comfort zone? What would you have missed if you’d let fear stop you?

2. What do you most fear about traveling or exploring?

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