by Associate Minister Rev. Laura Horton-Ludwig.

Today my niece turns 13. She is so excited to be a teenager at last! She’s been a tween for a long time, and she is no stranger to middle school drama. But for a couple of years now, Grace and I have been practicing how to handle the drama as we bond over a funny-serious card game called “Awkward Moment.”

The game, designed for middle schoolers, is simple. There are two sets of cards: the “Moments” deck and the “Reactions” deck. Each player gets a bunch of “Reactions” cards to play. We turn over the “Moments” cards one at a time, and each of us has to play one of our Reactions cards in response. Some of the Moments are pretty goofy, like: “Your dog actually eats your homework. What do you do?” And the Reactions cards can be pretty silly too: “Yell, ‘Bummer!’” or “Bust a move.” But the game gets into serious ethical issues too, like in this scenario: “One of the boys in your class says girls are bad at math.” Or this: “Someone is picking on one of the kids at school. What do you do?” In those moments, it’s pretty awesome to be able to slap down a Reaction card like this: “Say, ‘That’s ridiculous!’” Or this: “Tell them to knock it off!”

Sure, it’s just a game. But it’s also good practice for life. And in this month of exploring Risk, I wonder how we adults could benefit from practicing to take risks too. Are there moments in your life when you wish you’d spoken up? Done something differently? What would it be like to practice what you’ll do next time? I can think of so many moments in my own life where someone said something callous or careless and I’ve had to choose on the spot how to respond. Sometimes I’ve managed to find one of those awesome responses. Other times, I’ve been tongue-tied and had to resolve to act more bravely and clearly next time. At work, at school, in our families, out and about – the chances to practice keep on coming. What risks will you take to speak your truth?

P.S. Stay safe in the snow, everyone! If you’re planning to come to campus for a meeting or event tomorrow, please check uucf.org for the latest updates on possible closures.