Offense is risky.

In relationships, it’s much easier to play defense and erect walls if it appears like the conversation might travel too close to home, or crosses into unfamiliar or uncomfortable territory. Naturally we play defense well. We sidestep answering certain questions, we dance around topics. We maneuver based on where the other person leads. Yet at some level we all desire to connect with people in a genuine way.

If we merely relied on our natural defensive abilities, we would not get too far down the path of intimacy in our relationships. It would take special people to repetitively, offensively, strategically ask the right kinds of questions persistently and consistently in a manner pleasing to the whim of my mood on a given day. The odds would not be in favor of collecting many close friendships.

I lost my tennis match today. The funny thing is I’m not very good at defense on the court. My style of play is much more suited toward the take-charge-and-attack-the-net strategy but today I found myself trying to anticipate the move of the other person and adjust. Early on in the match I played aggressively and sailed some balls long and some wide. So instead of being mentally tough and continue in my efforts to groove on my offensive game, I became discouraged with my performance and turned down the dial. I tried to play conservatively by taking fewer risks. I lulled myself into thinking that playing it safe was a winning strategy.

Playing offense takes energy and creativity. It takes resiliency and a high degree of self assurance knowing that if I misfire (either the tennis ball or a question in a conversation) I’m still an okay person. It means that I have to be gracious with myself by not expecting perfect performance especially when I’m off on a given day. Offense requires my putting my best stuff out there regardless of the outcome; the way the person on the other side responds is outside of my control. Offense has to do with being willing to throw off perceived hindrances, generating some internal energy, and going for it. For me. I think offense is tough, risky and worthwhile. And I think it is a winning strategy both on the tennis court and in life.