God Stuff

Get The Sprouts


Sometimes I have ideas for a blog post a long time before I figure out a title for said posting.

This isn’t one of those times.

This time, I had a perfectly good title all picked out: “Sometimes You Don’t Get A Second Chance.” Of course, the problem with that title is that it sounds morbidly depressing. To avoid questions about my mental state, by now you’ve discovered that I arrived at the much more hopeful sounding “Get The Sprouts.”

I find it’s best to start at the start though, and the start of this story involves a much younger, incredibly shy, incredibly awkward 13 year old version of myself. This version of myself, much like any other 13 year old male was rendered doubly shy and triply awkward around members of the opposite sex. This condition was, of course, amplified when the member of the opposite sex in question was one that I was particularly attracted too. You get the idea. Perhaps you can even relate?

One evening near sunset I found myself at a party in a somewhat secluded area of a park. I was sitting on a small wooden bridge with a girl to which I was particularly attracted. Summoning up not a small bit of courage (I’m sure) for a 13 year old girl, she said “you know I really like you?”

This was clearly a pivotal moment in a young man’s life. Alone, with a girl, who I’m quite attracted to, in a park, moonlight fast approaching. To borrow a line from Casablanca “this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” Or at least an awkward first kiss. It was a moment begging for a perfect reply, a devilish grin, or a longing gaze.

Instead, I said “really?”

That’s it. Nothing more. Just awkward silence.

My memory is a little hazy on which (or perhaps both) of us ran away in embarrassment.

I’d like to tell you that young love found a way and days later when given another chance, I found that perfect response. But that’s not the way life works.

Sometimes you don’t get a second chance.

Years later this situation pretty much repeated itself. To avoid complete humiliation, I’ll spare the details. Suffice to say it involved a couch, a (different) girl, sharing a blanket, watching a movie and the girl throughout the movie turning toward me with a look intended to say “why don’t you kiss me stupid?” And me returning a look intended to say “because I’m a shy, awkward idiot!”

This situation ended about as you’d expect.

Sometimes you don’t get a second chance again.

We’ve all been presented with times in our lives when, moments after it was over, we said “that was a huge opportunity and I blew it.”  The sad truth is, yes you did. You blew it.

The question is, why?

If you’re like me, it’s hesitation. Failure to take a chance. In truth, fear.

Fear I’ll:
Say something stupid.
Embarrass myself.
Be rejected.

These moments missed, never involve:
Putting myself out there.
Taking a leap of faith.
Trying something new.

Which brings me to current day me. (One far more confident and significantly less awkward.) While visiting friends in North Carolina recently, I happened into a small brewery in Durham. It was located in an old brick warehouse in maybe not the nicest part of town. (Truthfully, it could be the nicest part of Durham for all I know, as it’s the only part of Durham I’ve been to. I’m sure it’s a lovely city.) It was Saturday night just before Halloween and the place was packed. Some people in costume, most not. People talking, people laughing, people drinking. Full of good beer and cheer, my friends and I stepped outside in the chilly October air to try our luck with one of the food trucks parked on an adjoining street.

After choosing a truck called “American Meltdown: Gourmet Melts,” I was just walking up to the window to order when I heard a girl sitting on a nearby picnic table say, “get the sprouts.”

Get the sprouts.

“Do you like sprouts,” she asked? “No,” I replied. “Then you have to try these. When are you ever going to be somewhere and have sprouts that you like,” she asked?

So, I said to the man at the window, “Let’s do an order of brussels sprouts with that patty melt.”

The girl walked off across the street and I never had a chance to thank her for the two important lessons I learned that night.

One is that fried brussels sprouts are amazing.

Two is that when you’re in a strange city, at a brewery, with a food truck outside and cute and somewhat odd girl says, “get the sprouts,” you get the sprouts.

This is normally the time in this blog when I tie the whole lesson together with something spiritual. I would love to find the perfect Bible verse and say “see how sprouts are a metaphor for __________” (You fill in the blank.) But I’m learning that just as life doesn’t always give you a second chance, it also doesn’t wrap each lesson up in a neat bow.

This time, when opportunity knocked, I was ready. Will I say yes the next time? I hope so. But I’m wondering, what if rather than waiting around for that next big opportunity, what if we chose to see every moment as an opportunity? What if instead of asking where is God in a particular circumstance? What if, as we learn to see each moment, the good, the bad, the mundane and the sublime as a moment of intrinsic value simply because every moment is an opportunity to interact with the divine, how much more valuable would each person, place or thing become? And then just maybe, we’d necessarily grow more courageous?

At any rate, do yourself a favor and get the sprouts.

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