Five years ago, we lost: job, home, baby and for almost a year and a half—each other. My husband needed work and no one in his industry was hiring close to home. He took a job out-of-state, we put a sign in the front yard and started off on our new adventure, with five kids in tow. But renting in one state and owning a house that would not sell in another didn’t work long term, it hit its limits.
So, Jay stayed where the work was, to provide for us financially, and the kids and I went back to our old house, one state and a million miles away. I made a deal with Jay. “You use every spare minute to hone your skills as the artist you are meant to be and I’ll hold down the fort.” If I had any idea what I was headed for, I would have spoken those words with far greater fear and trembling. But that’s another story.
For now, imagine with me for a moment the new definition “spare minute” held for a father of five? After a prior decade of the idea being all but lost on him this could be something akin to handing someone the ocean, to drink. Almost could sound amazing if you don’t factor in the loneliness, grief and sense of failure this situation brought to a sharp point. I believed in Jay but he had to decide again and again whether he did. Why even try to forge a new path when the one you’ve already tried seems by all measures to be failing? Would this even be worth it?
Fast forward five years, and honestly, we still don’t know—by some measures of success. We all hear about artists or entrepreneurs who take their “big leap” or get their “big break”. I guess you could say we leapt, if that looks like stepping out into the unknown basically because there’s no other viable choice. I guess you could say we got our big break, if you mean broken hearts and broken confidence and staring at what looked to be a broken future.
But by my measure, a family reunited with a husband and dad with, a strong heart not one crushed by difficult circumstances (although, it was for awhile, and that’s ok), who has: pushed forward in creating new ways, new routines, transformed skills and has not given up, should call it worth it. It was worth it. But how did that happen? I can tell you it wasn’t will power, even though it was full of trying, and that’s important. It’s just not the most important.
Experiencing the unconditional love of children, spouse or another in the midst of life is this window into the eternal. You feel like you couldn’t be more pressed into the dirt, but through love’s eyes you can fly. And so you do. Love never fails.
I was pregnant with my sixth child that year, I wasn’t well. I would never want to go back to that time, and yet I am more thankful for that season in my life than any other so far. Crazy, right?
But here’s the truth, we didn’t know how to teach our kids perseverance this way until we had to persevere…
We didn’t know we would live through it until faced with the choice to let go and die. We didn’t know the way to a different life until the life source to an old one quit supplying. We didn’t know how to cut out the clutter until we had to move four times in three years. How could we have taught our children what we still had yet to learn? I didn’t know compassion deep in my bones for the woman weeping in the car passing by until that’s how I wept too.
Dont get me wrong though, if this season marked my deepest grief, it also has lead to my most rooted joy.
It seems one could say “one man’s fall is another man’s leap”. Or even, “One man’s fall is the same man’s leap (in time).” Looking from the outside-in lives rarely reflect reality. You never know what is happening in another’s life, but we can always know there is a human soul with needs. We all have needs to grow and become and so are likely to be in the midst of shaping through difficulty, sometimes more difficult than other times. Challenges form and equip us.
“Nothing is yet in its true form.” —C.S. Lewis
Change is not only for eternity, a far and away thing. And the quest to live as the artists, creators, people we were born to be, isn’t obtained in: one leap, or free fall, or one good break, or even a hundred heart breaks. It’s the language in our hearts, not our culture’s line of thought, that matters. It’s what we’re becoming, not what we were. Mercy is a valid teacher.
The ledge we were on five years ago looked like, sounded like, felt like—a loss. Looking back now, I see more clearly that sometimes we’re winning and we don’t even know it.
Hope speaks of the invisible when the invisible is too quiet to hear. But I hope sharing a little bit of our story with you will send some whispers of it your way today. Jay is launching his first webcomic today. That was light years away five years ago. I wonder what is closer than you know today too? Don’t be afraid.
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Hi guys, My name is Raynna. I’m pictured here with my husband Jay. Inspired by his perseverance and the fact that even Jesus took time away sometimes, I’ve learned to take regular time for quiet. As a mom to six there are times and seasons where that meant I drove off in my car and took a nap outside the grocery store before I went in. In other seasons it meant I wrote a book. I’d love to hear about you in the comments! How do you recharge? Or what is your process to being creative? Or email me and tell me something deeper like what feels light years away to you right now?