Bowling with Bumpers / by Liz Brown

A couple of week ago I wrote about social media. It’s the one called “My Soul Is More Important Than my Brand.” This is sort of that story, Part 2. Or rather, the continuation of my thoughts. Sometimes I finish a blog and feel settled. My words feel sorted out and finished and I can move on. Other times, writing unearths more thoughts. This is one of those latter times.

In case you haven’t read Part 1 or don’t want to, this will catch you up: I’ve been asking myself why I use social media and if it really is good for my life. I’ve been asking why a lot, and I’m learning that once you start asking that question, it becomes difficult to stop.


I began thinking about other way I use my phone. Things like music and maps. Some of it is good. Very good. Google Maps has assisted me in navigating public transportation in new cities and guided me across the country when I ventured alone. I’m dreadfully directionally challenged. If it wasn’t for Google Maps, I’d probably be dead, either at a gas station in Kansas or off a bus route in Chicago.

As I travelled across the country and into new cities, Yelp gave me coffee recommendations. So I wouldn’t have to stop and ask anyone. Most of the time it went splendidly. I discovered a bookstore cafe and doughnut shops and even met my friend Matt that way.

Things that were normally difficult—finding my way and discovering the best food—were suddenly made easy. I became self-sufficient. I didn’t have to look at street signs to know where to turn. I didn’t have to pay attention to where I was—or think at all. Often, I don’t even know which direction I’m driving: north, south, east, or west. I didn’t have to stop for directions or recommendations. Miss Independent. 

This can be good—say you’re in a dangerous or unfamiliar area—but often it creates an artificial self-reliance, potential isolation, and bravery that isn’t backed by experience.

Is untested bravery really bravery at all?

Bravery that hasn’t been built upon the experience of confronting fears isn’t really bravery at all. It’s reckless, artificial self-reliance, and a little bit of ego.

It’s like bowling with bumpers.


I bowled last weekend for the first time in forever (cue the Frozen soundtrack in my head). There were so many of us that we split our group between two lanes. I was on the kid’s lane—the one with bumpers—with a 5-year-old, a 3-year-old, and two parents. I lost. Badly. Like lost to a 5-year-old badly. The only person I beat was the 3-year-old.

After that game, the kids had to go home to bed, so I moved to the next lane—with no bumpers. I still didn’t win, but I did amazingly better. In fact, on my first frame, I got a spare.

Why is that? Yes, perhaps it was a little mad luck, but I think it might have been something more. When I bowled with bumpers, I had a backup. I tried to throw the ball straight and true, but if it didn’t go where I wanted it: oh, well—the bumpers would save it.

On the other hand, when I bowled the second game—the one without bumpers—I had to give it my all. If I bowled crooked, there was no chance for me. It was all or nothing. I had no safety net and no backup plan. I had to jump in to the game 100%.


I want to bowl without bumpers in my life. To commit and learn bravery the honest way. To sincerely become brave.

I want to surrender all back-up plans and safety nets. To force myself to rely on God and on other people. To learn to ask for help and for directions. To learn slowly and well. To keep asking why and keep writing down down what I’m learning as I’m learning it. It’s not easy and it’s not independent, but I believe it’s becoming brave and being true and I think I’d rather be brave and true than independent and artificially self-reliant. We need each other. 

Here’s to becoming brave and bowling without bumpers. We’re in this together.