We listened to someone lament the other day about her latest trials; she didn’t understand why her family experienced hardship. Didn’t they pay their tithing? Go to church? Do the right things? Why was God punishing her?
I turned to Alan and whispered, “She hasn’t figured it out, yet. How wonderful it will be for her when she does!”
For most of my life, I have struggled with depression when faced with adversity. I, too, have felt that God was punishing me. It’s the most horrible feeling and I feel this woman’s pain keenly. I hurt for her.
Yet, I don’t feel sorry for her. I know that she just hasn’t learned a truth about adversity that we have. I know and trust that she will figure it out, because she is truly seeking the Lord’s guidance. It’s only a matter of time. She is being led, from one experience to another, to this realization. Once she figures it out, she will no longer feel punished. She will welcome adversity and be grateful for it! She will rejoice in hardships! She will know that it’s the trials we face that are our true blessings, not the times we have it easy.
Nine months ago, Alan came home after work and said five words that destroyed our peace. They were a wrecking ball to the structure and security of our lives. He said, “I am being laid off.”
After I realized that he wasn’t joking, I burst into tears.
A few years before, we had tried to leave the state of Washington. We assumed getting work in another state would facilitate the move. We thought it would be easy because he was constantly contacted by recruiters. He finally stopped turning the recruiters away, only to have human resource departments reject him solely based on his lack of degree.
When I learned he was being laid off, I knew that the lack of a degree would hamper his efforts to find employment. It might negatively impact our financial position. Of course I cried!
Clinging to the Truth
I cried for about ten minutes until reason reasserted itself. I know that trials are blessings. They provide opportunities for growth and change. Alan immediately began to look around for job opportunities. How could we survive without an income? But knowing what I know, I asked him if maybe there was another way.
Alan has always wanted to finish his degree, but life happened. He had attempted to finish his degree during our marriage, but work made it impossible. He only needed two physics classes, but they both required a lab. He would have to go to school during normal business hours.
I began to pester Alan. Maybe this was the opportunity he needed to finally finish his degree. I nagged. I threatened that I wasn’t going to stop harassing him until he looked into it. I meant it. And I didn’t stop. So he looked into it. And what he discovered was that we could survive not having an income.
In two months, we decided on a course of action, prayed about it, got a strong confirmation, flipped and sold two homes (one we had been forced to hold onto because of the market crash), donated half of our possessions (including a vehicle), kept only what we could fit in a POD, raced south between two severe winter storms, and found a place to live in Texas only after we arrived.
Today, seven months later, Alan took his last final exam. I am so happy for him! He has been able to fulfill a dream he’s had for almost three decades. I cry for joy because of it!
It’s been rough, but we’ve never lost our faith. The Lord has been with us the entire time. And we’ve learned even more about the nature of trials.
This whole experience hasn’t been just about Alan finishing his degree. It hasn’t even been about Alan getting a job. It’s been about learning how to think outside the box. It’s been about realizing that we are the ones who limit ourselves based on assumptions. We’ve also learned that we can dream. We’ve learned that often the way to see and take advantage of opportunities, is to live in the moment, unfettered by expectations.
A series of events over the last month have led us to the idea of living in an RV full-time. I won’t go into the details. I’ll just say we are embarking on a strange and wonderful journey, a new way of looking at ourselves and the world. We have no idea what it’s going to be like. We don’t even care to expect anything, other than relishing the journey. And hopefully discovering and achieving dreams we previously never dared to really dream before.
As we’ve learned more about what Alan calls the RV Underground, we are discovering that there are many people just like us farther along in the journey. There are also those still contemplating the trip. To all of them I say, “Here’s to seeing you on the road!”
I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death. –Robert Fulghum
Trust in dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.– Khalil Gibran
Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. –Edgar Allan Poe
Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country. –Anais Nin