“I’m gonna be honest,” he said. “I thought this was a really bad idea when you first brought it up.”
I wasn’t surprised. A lot of people had felt that way. People I loved, people whose opinion I valued. People who had a huge impact on my life, and people I desired to please. These were the people who had thought we were making a mistake, but I guess when God is leading you to something different, you have no choice but to go with it. You just hope they’ll come around.
Almost two years later, the majority of our family and friends had. They were truly happy for us as we led an unconventional life that went against the grain of everything that society told us was normal. They saw it in our eyes, our smiles, our very countenance. They saw how joyous we were after letting go of all the things that were supposed to make us happy in this world.
I know onlookers had stood agasp as we emptied our two story home of all its contents, sold our possessions for less than half of their worth, and locked the doors, turning our backs on what had once been considered our dream home. As I walked through it yesterday, footsteps echoing across the empty floor and radiating down the bare hall, I felt nothing. Once upon a time it had been bittersweet to say goodbye to our house, but that was before I truly discovered what made a home. I had only left the large house looming in my rear view because I knew God had something else in store. But yesterday, I didn’t look back as we pulled out of the long, shaded drive. I just left it behind.
Sometimes what lies ahead of you is far better than you could ever fathom. I’m glad we had believed that when the rest of the world looked at us like we were crazy.
I can still remember what it was like. I was happy. I was. But I was also tired. I was stressed out, sometimes depressed for no particular reason at all. I missed my husband, and I longed for him to really smile again. Something happens when you build a family, when you grow up. You enter into a place of anxiety and dread mixed with tiny moments of wonderful. You spend 75% of your life working to achieve that 25% of happy. You assume, “this is just the way it is,” as if working long hours, running errands on two wheels, drowning in debt, and burning the midnight oil is a part of the life you have built. Long hours at the table hammering Singapore Math equations into your eight year old. Was it like this for our parents?
Why can’t there be more of the happy? Is a quarter of joy really all you can get? You assume so.
We rush, we bustle about. We run here and there. We work, work, work. Birthday parties get bigger, Easter becomes like Christmas. The closets overflow. Time for another purge! If we pull a few more overtime shifts we can take vacation in June.
Sunday is an afterthought. Church is a place where you’re supposed to go. Gotta train up the kids right! God don’t mind if you miss for football, though. Hard to get any good news in your spirit since Sunday School is the only place you can find time for your Bible. But Monday is creeping up on you, the weekend is over, and back to the grind we go.
Gotta get new shoes, a brand that won’t cause your kid to get bullied, a style that will make them the envy of the other kids, the ones that will make you look like a good mom for buying them.
People thought we were crazy when we said, “let’s just get rid of it all!”
They thought we just meant the minivan with automatic doors and the ruffle dresses. They didn’t realize we meant the multiple car payments and dreaded mound of never-ending laundry too. They thought we were just selling the house. They never knew we were also refunding the false idea that a large living room made life good. We found out the whole world could be our backyard!
When we said we were going to travel the country in an RV, folks thought we were chasing a pipe dream, like the idea of it was more magical than the reality would entail. Some people even thought we would fail.
I get it! It’s hard to leave your comfort zone. It’s not easy to leave the way you’ve always known and embark on a future without answers. We took off with a tow vehicle we couldn’t yet afford, to pull a fifth wheel we didn’t yet own, to work a job that gave no promises of stability. We reserved a hotel we couldn’t keep paying for long term, and we carted everything we owned in suitcases and a handful of rubber-made totes. Gosh, we were a little crazy. But we were tired. So very tired.
You grow up thinking you need to obtain that Great American Dream, but when you finally do, you wonder where the joy went. It’s fragmented, kind of like your time, broken apart and unfairly divided amongst your many, overflowing responsibilities. We fall right into Satan’s plan, in student loan debt, working over in a job we hate, for a family we never see, and a vacation that will leave us exhausted. Well, dang.
My husband let another driver go first the other day. My spouse had the right of way. The other driver was very confused by my husband’s kindness and patience, and it took him a moment to pull forward and drive off. People are numb to the fast pace. They’ve become accustomed to road rage, anger management, horns honking, driving ten miles above the speed limit, and passing someone to gain a precious microsecond. That’s the way of the world. Everyone is in a hurry. But we decided we wanted to teach our children that servants don’t have a problem going last.
So, we let go of the ideas that more is better or that things like public opinion matter one iota when it comes to eternity and love. We live in 500 square feet, tiny compared to our previous floor plan, but man oh man, how our hearts have grown. For one another and others. We work less, play more. Our closets aren’t as full, but it wasn’t just designer jeans and boots we threw in plastic bags to give away; we got rid of the stress. We let go of worry, and instead we held tight to time together. We homeschool, we roadschool, we unschool the ideas of the world. We teach kindness, patience, even a little washing feet.
I think some of our friends and family worried how we would handle traveling somewhere new, holding a new job, living in new neighborhoods, away from the comfort of routine, the way things had always been. But I reckon sometimes you have to shake loose the dust of comfortable when it makes you complacent to living the life God has in mind for us all. He wants us focused on loving one another, taking the time to savor a sunset, throwing our hands up in surrender, saying, “your will, not mine.”
I guess that’s what we really did when we sold our stuff, packed up our family, and took off to travel in an RV. We just threw up our hands. We let go of what the world had said would make us happy. All of that was too stressful, too hard to maintain, too silly to sacrifice for mere scraps of happy. Why do we assume life must be a roller coaster? When do we admit all the dips and jerks are of our own design? We realized God didn’t have stress, struggling, and striving for us. He had thriving, not just surviving. He just wanted our love. The rest He would give us as needed, and I have to say that’s the best thing I’ve learned this past year. I don’t have to struggle for happy. He just gives. So I just need to receive.
People thought we were crazy, they thought we would fail, but we found that the really crazy part is how we used to live, tired and worn thin, hoping for a sliver of time together. We always felt we were failing at carving out a chunk of joy amidst all the chaos, but we realize now we only failed because we tried too hard at too much of nothing.
Maybe this all sounds like the musings of a crazy woman, but I’ve never felt more sane. We value time over treasure, we hold more highly the love we can bestow than the gifts we can get. What I mean is this. We just love Jesus and live life. We trust Him, we spend more time together than we spend money. We let go of fear and grabbed tightly to trust. We did this by selling all our stuff and moving into an RV, but I figure God can change hearts any which way He designs. For us, it took a drastic change to shift our mindset to what’s important in life, but maybe for someone else He can do it another way.
All I know is that most folks don’t think we’re crazy anymore. They think we’re onto something good. They see the experiences our children are having, seeing sights they never would before, meeting new people, and watching mom and dad trust the Lord for it all. They don’t think we’ll fall down or fail anymore. They realize that we’re actually living the dream. The legit dream. And it’s nothing like society has esteemed it to be. Nothing at all.