First off, before we get to the blog, I know it's been a while but I really appreciate the support as this outlet has slowly built up consistency and momentum. My goal is to do something like this every week so we have a way to stay connected. I don't just want this to be a soapbox, I also value connecting and conversing so always feel free to reach out. My hope is that there is some encouragement in what is written here whether it be from my stories or someone else's. I appreciate you all who have patiently and continuously contributed, listened, read, watched, and taken part in this journey. It finally feels real and we have only just begun.
It is well…
It’s been a song that’s been stuck in my head lately. It’s been a weird and wacky season of life and I don’t necessarily mean that in all the good ways. Since April I have left a job, sold a car, bought a car, made some bad investments, made some good ones, drawn some boundaries, broken some others, had things given, had things taken, earned a lot more, earned a lot less, stepped back from some unhealthy relationships, stepped up to new relationships, also had some old relationships grow, closed a couple chapters, and started a couple new ones; I’ve stared into my own darkness and wrestled with the ghosts that have taken up insisted residence. I’ve slept some nights and others I’ve stayed up till the next morning. I’ve procrastinated, planned, failed, planned again, and failed again but for some reason this stupid, beautiful, stubborn song has managed to stay locked into my mind.
It is well.
I’m in the midst of a season that has insisted on teaching Kirsten (my wife) and I something and with every week comes something new. It’s been frustrating and agonizing but it has not been without its victories. In the mess of it all we have grown closer and stronger than we’ve ever been. There’s something about being in the trenches with someone beside you that brands you with a “ride or die” attitude that you can’t shake. It hadn’t come in some huge aha moment on a boat, or after watching an emotional movie, or having a long talk with a friend. Truthfully I thought it would come when I was sitting outside sipping some whiskey and smoking a cigar. Don’t know why I pictured it like that but I did. I guess it seems regal. No, it has been a series of moments slow cooked to painful perfection that I not only hear the lesson - but get hit in the mouth with it.
I don’t remember if I left my job or if my job left me but either way I had decided that I was going to give one more good year to it and literally the next day I am talking with my bosses about the possibility of my leaving. I don’t know if you pray, I do and it was during a prayer that I had promised God I would finally step out in a year. In a year I figured I would have learned all the lessons necessary to step into my dreams. The “step” I had planned for myself took less than a month. I came home bawling because I knew we were about to lose a steady income. But it is well. That’s what I kept singing anyway.
Let me jump forward a bit about that car. Losing consistent income will challenge what you thought was important, all the sudden having a nice car wasn’t important. Especially when it came down to having a nice car or chasing the dream. We were able to sell it but not until after a couple of…. well loud conversations and about sixty dollars in postage and notarizing fees. Don’t co-own a car if you can help it. Trying to sell it later down the road will be a real pain the you-know-what, just some friendly advice.
We finally sold the expensive car and bought a cheaper car. Things were looking up! Then about a week later someone broke into our house. Deadbolt doesn’t mean anything to a burglar when they can just chip away the door itself. They didn’t take any material belongings that were special. A few things but nothing of real value other than our sense of security. All total my wife and I had about five thousand dollars worth of computer, sound, and video equipment in our home that didn’t get touched. I was blown away. The next few nights were long ones. I was thankful our lively hoods weren’t stolen but we still had to pick up the pieces. Sleep is returning and my wife thinks it’s the coolest thing to be able to turn on the new security system from her phone.
In the same span I have had to say goodbye to some friendships and draw some boundaries. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be. Again, when you’re in the mode of looking for importance you get down to business faster. Putting boundaries in place has meant stepping back or stepping away completely whether it be friends or certain family members and, again, I have found some health in that. There’s something about stepping back from some dysfunction. I’ve also stepped up to some new friendships. I had gotten shy when I moved to California. It was easier not to plug-in than it was to accept my new “home”. That was also draining. Here I thought I was protecting myself when in actuality I was hurting myself.
So now to the present. If I’m completely transparent this whole entrepreneur thing is not as sexy as it looks in the YouTube videos. My wife is her own boss with a blooming interior design business while I continue my counseling internship and am grabbing content creation by the horns and making it part of my job description. I’m getting better at not stammering through it. We are taking money from our savings account like cheaters in a Monopoly game and there are days where we feel like quitting everything and going home. Going back to the safe and consistent 9 to 5 job that we know will pay the bills.
I often wonder at times why this is happening. Why go through this pain and fear? Why expose myself to the unknown? I hear the advice often: “Get a real job, stop playing around, grow up, do something more stable, join the real world”. At times these are tempting offers. It would be easy to do all of that. It’s especially tempting when I’m sitting in my car after getting home looking at my nearly empty gas tank knowing I need to be somewhere tomorrow but we also need groceries. “GOD WHY IN THE WORLD AM I HERE?!” “WHY IS THIS SO HARD?!” “DO YOU NOT SEE WHERE I AM?!” “DID I MISS SOMETHING?!” “AM I DOING IT WRONG?!” I know for a fact I’m not the only one with that cry sometimes. This is such a struggle; maybe I should just give up and do something else. The thing is - for my wife and I, and maybe for you too, it would mean settling. It would mean settling because we know we did not come all this way for nothing. We did not come all this way to come up short in some way. On a very real and visceral level it also means accepting the reasons why so many bail out when things look especially hopeless – and there are times when things look especially hopeless! But still we continue. Why? What is it that keeps us getting up in the morning and pushing forward even when it doesn’t make a lick of sense to literally EVERYONE ELSE? I’ve discovered it’s fear. I’m reading a book called Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Her entire first chapter is about fear and it’s probably something we can chat about at a later date but I came away with one glaring conclusion: I’m more afraid of not continuing than I am of continuing. I’m more afraid of what it would mean to quit than what the people around me have to say. We should press on because we know that even when our bank accounts are low and we’re eating cereal for dinner that we are living out and leaning into how we have been created, and at the end of the day, I’m more concerned with how I have stewarded the gifts I was given than I am about what others think makes sense.
In my struggle I am finding peace in the fact that it is well. We can be affirmed in our gifts a hundred times a day but it won’t matter if we never take those steps toward our goals and our dreams. My wife and I have been kicked in the head a dozen times over through these past few months but we refuse to let each other give up on what we’re building. I refuse to be the person who looks back fifty years from now and thinks, “Damn, I should’ve just gone for it”. You might be struggling right now, and I don’t know what your dreams or goals are but I implore you to keep pressing in. If it were easy then everyone would do it. People think Kirsten and I walk around with flowers and rainbows flowing out of our ears when the reality is we’re up early in the mornings and late at nights – grinding. We’re thinking of ways to make our businesses better, how to make our money work for us, how to reach the larger audience, how hone our crafts, we’re connecting to communities that want the same things so we can remain accountable, we’re keeping our foot on the gas and flying through the death star trench in our millennium falcon colored rocket. We know what we want out of our careers, out of our lives, and if it’s ordained then nothing will stop it except our giving in to the fears and worries that hold so many others back.
I would guess that people tend to give up on their aspirations because their expectations and the reality didn’t match up. There’s work involved in everything we set our minds to and that work takes time. We want things when we want them but the real world doesn’t work that way. If you are honest about where you want to be then I have to be honest and tell you that it takes pain to get there. This life is an effort and it’s a gut check. What are you really made of? I think the only way we’ll ever really know what we’re made of is through these times when things feel and seem too big. When it feels like we’re knee deep in the muck with no sign of getting out. The truth is we’re right where we need to be because we love what we do and love is not love if it’s never been tested.