Have you read Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly? If not, you should consider doing so. If you don’t know who Brene is, you can watch one of her TED talks here. It’s only 20 minutes long and is worth the effort!
I read Daring Greatly last year and then again on our drive to Alaska. I wish I had it in front of me right now to quote some of my favorite passages to you, but I shared it with my sister so she can read it.
Over the last few months both Jake and I have had many moments of vulnerability. You know, that moment when we question everything we are doing and begin to panic. Brene Brown defines vulnerability as uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. It’s become a bit of a buzzword in our home the last couple months and defines many of our waking moments.
A couple weeks before we left Florida, Jake and I were sitting in church waiting for it to start and he turned to me and said, “I’m freaking out.”
I was surprised because Jake rarely freaks out. I asked him why. He then whispered in a low, slightly sarcastic voice, “Oh, I don’t know? Because I quit my job, we sold our house, and we’re going to live on a bus?” A laugh actually slipped out before I regained composure. I squeezed his hand and told him that it was going to be great.
As we talked about it later we realized the importance of staying on different vulnerability schedules. One of us needed to be able to support the other through. So far it’s worked pretty well. We’ve been able to talk each other through the tough times.
The reality is that everything we are doing is surrounded by uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. Jake quit his job. A good job that provided a comfortable living for us. We lived in a beautiful home, surrounded by wonderful friends, and we were in Florida, which we loved! Why would we give all of that up in favor of being unemployed for a time and living on a bus with our four children?
It’s difficult to explain, especially in this economic climate. We didn’t make the decision lightly and spent many hours in prayer and fasting as we considered our options. The Coast Guard was a good job, but it wasn’t a good fit for us. Jake has dreamed of rejoining the Air National Guard since he separated from them 5 years ago.
Had it been simply a matter of transitioning from the Coast Guard to the Air National Guard, with no break in service and a guaranteed job – that would have been an easy decision. But that’s not how it works. The separation from the Coast Guard had to be complete before we could begin the possibility of transitioning back into the Air National Guard. Until everything goes through with them, there is no guarantee of employment. Making this decision meant giving up our security and trading it for freedom.
I can sum that decision up in one word. TERRIFYING. In the end, it came down to daring greatly. The title of Brene Brown’s book, Daring Greatly, was inspired by a speech given a century ago by President Theodore Roosevelt, in which he said:
It is not the critic who counts;
not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles,
or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena,
whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;
who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,
because there is no effort without error and shortcoming;
but who does actually strive to do the deeds;
who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions;
who spends himself in a worthy cause;
who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement,
and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.
We could have continued on, doing what we were doing. But life is worth living. We knew there was more out there for us, for our family, then what we were presently doing. When the opportunity presented itself to reach for a dream, we knew we needed to risk everything for the chance. Even if it didn’t work out.
That doesn’t make it any less terrifying.
The other day Jake and I simultaneously had a moment of vulnerability. The uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure of our current situation was almost overwhelming. It’s really not about living on a bus. That’s the fun part (minus the vomit). The travel, seeing new places, meeting new people, being together. That is what makes this worth doing.
The vulnerable part is what happens next. The unknown… and the known. Knowing there will not be a paycheck deposited into our account next week. Knowing that everything we are working for might not come through. Knowing that this is a choice that we made. Knowing that we’ve done all we can do and it’s now out of our hands.
But then I remember that we are in the arena. We’ve risked it all. And at the worst, if we fail, at least we fail while daring greatly.
I don’t know what is in store for us over the next few months. But we have this chance. This chance to do something incredible. It’s not just about Jake’s job. It’s also about this experience on the bus. With our family. This time to focus on things we deem most important.
My sister created a vinyl for the back of our bus that sums it all up for me:
We’ll look back on this and smile.
Because it was LIFE and we decided to live it.
P.S. We aren’t putting all our eggs in one basket. Jake has applied for several jobs and is actually in Utah right now interviewing at an airline. What is it that John Lennon said? “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”
*HUGE thanks to Rhae Anne Photography who captured these amazing images for our family while we were in Alaska!