When I was 16, I began what was later deemed the third-Sunday curse. My dad spoke in church every third Sunday and for months I inevitably did something stupid the night before.
The initiator of the curse was a lovely June day, a few months before my 17th birthday. I had an opportunity to go to to a basketball camp with the rest of my team. I also had an opportunity to spend a day serving with my church group. I knew which one I wanted to pick. I also knew which opportunity I should pick.
So I did the right thing.
And I wasn’t happy about it. At all. I was actually a pretty big punk about the whole thing.
We were painting a barn that day. Remember, it was June. It was a hot June, too. My friend and I had plans to dye my hair red that night and decided we may as well get a head start with the red barn paint. After one of our leaders assured us it was water-based paint (guys, barn paint is NOT water-based) my 16-year-old brain decided it would be brilliant to paint my head.
(Spoiler alert: Red paint + hours in the sun = BAD IDEA!)
I came home to shower and, to my complete dismay, the paint didn’t come out. Well, pieces of it did, and it looked awful. I refused to let my parents take pictures that night, and I’m kind of wishing now that they had, just so I could show you how truly awful it looked.
The misery had only just begun.
I went to a dance that night with red paint splotching my head in a way that could only be described as post-modern grunge… All plans to dye my hair that night went out the window. I had to figure out how to get the paint out of my hair..
So I went home to some very-not-pleased parents. Despite their frustration with me, they were willing to help figure out a solution my mess.
They tried rubbing alcohol first, I think. Something… anything to break up the paint. They tried paint thinner, too. No such luck.
Lighter fluid finally did the trick, but it wasn’t easy. No, lighter fluid was just enough to loosen up the paint to the point that it could be pulled out of my hair strand by strand.
My hair at the time was quite thick and quite long. I’m also extremely tender headed. This was – BY FAR – the most pain I’d EVER experienced. (Even to this day, I think it’s the most pain I’ve experienced. I’ve even given birth without medication. I’d repeat labor. I would NOT repeat this hair moment…)
Anyway, back to the story.
My wonderful parents spent hours pulling paint out of my hair, strand by strand. I flung tears off my face. Big, huge, dragon tears. I couldn’t do anything but sit there, completely defeated and in excruciating pain, despite my parents’ gentle methodical hands.
To this day, I’ve never dyed my hair.
The curse went on for a while. There was a car accident involved, and a late-night bonfire. I’m not a big believer in actual curses, but there was something eerie about those few months. My parents even got to the point that they were half-joking-half-serious about making me stay in on the Saturday before the third Sunday.
I decided to go cliff jumping the Saturday before the third Sunday of the month. I chose that day on purpose. I had to defeat the curse.
So, my friend and I picked our spot and went cliff jumping. We were smart about it, too. And you know what? We had a great time. No injuries, no car accidents, no paint. Just a good time flying off rocks into a freezing cold lake.
I beat the third-Sunday curse.
I think opportunity is a lot like the third-Sunday curse. It’s easy to see where things will go wrong. It’s easy to avoid opportunity for fear that something bad might happen. When we let fear select our opportunity, we lose the ability to decide for ourselves. We forget we have this awesome ability to choose – to decide for ourselves what opportunities to take and what opportunities aren’t right. We let opportunity happen to us instead of happening to opportunity. We leave things up to chance and then blame silly things like third-Sunday curses.
I’m going to beat the curse again and again. I’m intentionally choosing my opportunity. I’m owning it, and taking the blame for the consequences. I’ll enjoy the moment of free fall and I’ll enjoy the splash of mountain water on a hot summer day.
Care to join me?