When You Should But You Can’t

Matt Shaner
3 min readJan 11, 2024

It was summer sometime in my early teens. I had gone with my mother to a picnic of a church organization she was a part of. The picnic had a lot of people, food, games, the usual stuff.

One guy, Norm, mentioned off hand that he was part of a barbershop quartet group. That night, they were booked to sing the National Anthem at the Vet (RIP). Veterans Stadium was a concrete bowl and home to the Eagles and Phillies.

He asked, did I want to go with him? I thought about it and said, sure.

We rode down to Philly that night. The group was part of a larger choir singing the National Anthem. They took us through a special entrance and down to the field. I remember the lights and cameras. We did a medley of songs (Norm told me to just lip sync those) and ended with the Anthem.

The following year, he made me the same offer and I did it again. The Phanatic actually put his arm over my shoulder when I was singing that year. It was a great time, one I would have missed if I’d said no or let it pass.

Some moments we choose the sidelines and not the game.

Photo by Thomas Park on Unsplash

The biggest causes are fear and comfort, polar opposites and both have strong grips.

Fear can paralyze and freeze us out of courage. Fear of risk, loss, losing stature and what could happen on the flip side. There are books of quotes about fear and overcoming it. One of the most common instructions in the Bible is “Do not be afraid.”

The trick with fear is to lean into it. Fear is our compass and should be our barometer. Human instinct is to run. Divine instinct is to chase. Jesus did not call for comfort, he called for combat. Fear should be our direction.

Comfort is way more dangerous.

Our souls call us to big dreams and visions. The most dangerous thing we can do is get comfortable with kinda success. A good salary, cushy job, nice benefits, a solid bank balance, making progress towards retirement.

Deep down, though, deep down there’s something there. There’s a flame that keeps you up at night. There’s a voice that whispers.

Fight it. Take the risk. You may have a thousand reasons why not.

And your heart will race for the one reason to go, step out, and do it.

Your dream is still there, no matter how far you push it down. The cost of risk is nothing compared to the cost of regret.

This is the year you do it. Remember, Jesus spoke to thousands. Plenty stayed on the sidelines. 12 changed the world.

The world still needs to be changed. Doors are open. Make your should stronger than your can’t. Make your purpose stronger than your pain.

It isn’t easy, but it is always worth it.



Matt Shaner

Matt Shaner is a writer, husband, father, and believer living outside Reading, PA. You can find his blog and other writings at matthewdshaner.com.