Life After the Trip

by Maile on October 29, 2012

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We coasted into Paradise, PA in Willie on June 9th after almost 4 months on the road. And folks, we were ragged. The Trip was everything we had hoped and so much more, but we were tired and since losing our brakes on the Teton Pass in mid-May, I’d felt edgy every time Shawn put Willie in drive. So to finally park that big lug in my in-laws’ driveway for one last time was a great and necessary relief.
But then we had to begin “life after The Trip”. Whoa.

That was just over 4 months ago. Honestly, I wish I had blogged every day of that time. I wish I had carried you along on that journey. But it’s been and gone. However, I have one revelation to pass along to you that may perhaps sum up that time in our lives: The Trip, the big, wonderful, chance-of-a-lifetime trip I was so afraid would be our last big taste of adventure…was actually our first little nibble.

Funny enough, everything we feared would happen when we got home from our trip actually did. We ended up living in my in-laws’ basement (and still do—yikes!), Shawn’s writing projects dried up, and we didn’t have two pennies to rub together. I find it interesting when we voice the things we fear, often times God says, “Huh, let’s just go there and see what it’s like.” And that’s just what He did; He plunked us right smack in the middle of where we never wanted to be.

And that’s when this little quote from Anne Lamott made all the difference: ““E.L. Doctorow once said that ‘Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.’ You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice on writing, or life, I have ever heard.”

I had to agree.

When we didn’t know what to do or where to go, we prayed, “God, just give us the next step. We don’t need to know the destination, we just need our headlights to light up that little bit in front of us.” And God answered. He said, “Hang tight.”

Easier said than done. Shawn tried to hunt up writing work. Possibilities would arise and then fizzle out. We tried to get comfortable in his parents’ basement and remind ourselves that our current square footage easily tripled what we had while living on Willie. And we tightened our budget to the last notch on its belt; we couldn’t pull any tighter.

And I told myself, “You just need to get through this tough stage and then it will be better.” But I had no guarantee of that. No one, not God , and certainly not Jesus, ever said that life would be easy. So God confronted me with this question, “Maile, what if it never gets easier? What if money is always tight and you always have to scrape just to get by? Will you still believe I am good and trustworthy?”

Because the truth is that this world is full of wonderful, godly people who struggle, whether it be financially or physically or mentally. Crappy things happen to the very best folks out there, people living much harder lives than my own. Could I still believe God was good if we never “got out of this phase”? For some strange reason I knew in my heart that I could.

And that belief was tested.

In the months to come, Shawn would receive a new writing project only to have the clients change their minds a few weeks later. We would find out that we were pregnant with baby number 5, and at 14 weeks I’d miscarry that sweet little bundle. It seemed like nothing was going our way, but yet there was this peace above it all. I found such comfort in this quote from Psalm 62:

“One thing God has spoken,
two things have I heard:
That You, O God, are strong,
and that You, O Lord, are loving.”

Love. I realized that’s all it boiled down to for me. During The Trip God was serenading me, and I got to the end of it knowing one thing: that He loved me. And that’s what kept my faith strong in the midst of struggle and heartbreak. Because isn’t that what we all want; just to be loved and loved well. And that’s what He’s doing right now: loving me well. I wish I could explain it better. I wish I knew how to sum it up in with a polished little story. I can’t. I just know that He’s been singing the most beautiful song in my ear ever since my husband’s business went belly-up three years ago, and the notes keep getting clearer and the lyrics more eloquent. It’s the strangest thing I’ve ever experienced.

So as of now we can see as far as our headlights and somehow, that’s just enough.

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