If you read “Moving Forward,” you know the story – the desire to make a change, the sacrifice it often takes to do so, and the shifts in perception that change can produce.

There is so much we can’t control in life – the actions of others, sickness, job loss, RP . . . . Yet there are aspects of our lives that we can reclaim – pieces of life’s hard circumstances that we think are lost causes.

There are no lost causes. At least not in full.

I may have lost vision, and I may lose more, but there are pieces I am gathering up and reclaiming. With this move, I have reclaimed my independence, my children, my family – our lives – and our daily world has opened up.

I feel like a kid in a candy store. “Where should we go today?” I ask my kids, “to the library? (a twice-a-day excursion lately) park? book store? swim class? art class? meet a family member to go shopping? meet a friend for coffee?  interrupt daddy’s work-from-home day at Starbucks?”

When I’m preparing for the day ahead, for a split second, I think I have to make phone calls to friends or family, bug them for the umpteenth favor, and then wait for them to pick me and my squirmy kids up, rearrange their car seats and finagle all our stuff so it fits and doesn’t crowd a helpful person’s car. But then I remember this freedom – no waiting, no long-range planning for a simple trip to the library or outing BY MYSELF.

And I feel giddy.

And when my husband tells me he is going out of town for a few days this week, I don’t get a panicky feeling like I used to when we had a walkscore of 20 . . . and I almost can’t believe how easy life seems.

It’s funny to me how full the days are and how our schedule fills up fast, but how simple life feels.  I have never felt so alive, so full of energy, so full of vision for the future than I do now.

We can all do this – reclaim pieces of our lives. It may take time and sacrifice, but the cost pales in comparison to a rejuvenated spirit.  Four years ago, when my husband and I felt led to take this specific move, we had no idea what challenges lay ahead of us – the insanely long road that we would need to stumble down to fulfill what we knew would be best for our family.  I remember with each set-back — the hit to our credit, the stress of not having our own place for 8 months, the downsizing and parting with so much stuff, the awkward conversations with a couple people who just didn’t understand why the heck I needed to be able to walk places – I always would question whether it would at some point feel worth it.  And I’m almost surprised by how worthwhile – how restorative – it feels.

The ways in which we can reclaim broken aspects of our lives can be simple and challenging and scary and right all at the same time.  For some, it may be a broken relationship with a parent that can maybe never be fully repaired, yet you’re reclaiming it by the relationship you’re intentionally  building with your own children. For others, it might be a job loss that spurs you on to reclaim the career you’ve always envisioned, or perhaps you have to go to drastic measures to get out of debt and reclaim financial freedom.  There are countless circumstances and countless ways to reclaim . . . repair . . . rebuild and move forward.

Don’t worry – I am still living in reality and know that I still have to depend on my husband and others more than most people.  But I don’t think independence is the ultimate goal here anyway.  There is actually a lot of worth in being insufficient, despite what our culture tells us.  It keeps us humble for one, and some of the strongest growth begins through perceived weaknesses.

There is something about freeing up a little independence in my life, however, that has allowed me to have a more outward focus . . . that has freed up space to notice and respond to the needs of others.  By reclaiming the brokenness in my own life, I am more available to help others in their brokenness.

I observed this the other day while finishing up a reference letter for friends who want to adopt a child.  I realized I had to get the letter notarized at the bank and then take it to the post office.  In the past, this would have been a rushed family trip after dinner that would have involved my husband having to drive all over the place after coming home from work.  But this time I simply walked to the bank with the girls, met with a notary, and then walked to the post office.

It doesn’t mean that we stop hoping that the broken parts of our lives will someday be fixed completely.  Will I still consider experimenting with acupuncture or other promising treatments that arise in the future?  Sure.  Will I continue to donate to Foundation Fighting Blindness and pray for a full cure?  Sure.  But my current life is not depending on my vision being restored.

There comes a point in painful life circumstances where we can become stuck in the waiting . . . waiting for the circumstance or people to change.  And we somehow become immobilized with impatience.

I remember that in moments of frustration living in Plainfield, I would often say to my husband, “I hate my life,” and I know that statement must have really hurt him.  And it hurt me too – to have these 2 beautiful little girls and the most amazing husband and to be so stuck that I couldn’t see it.

Apparently, there is such a thing as not being able to see, and then there is such a thing as not being able to see.  

I think there comes a point in pain where we have done all we can do – we’ve sought treatment, moved houses, improved our quality of life the best we can.  And that’s when we choose to live in it – to make adjustments that may seem like settling or giving up to some but are actually acknowledging the current reality.

So this isn’t just some point where we hit a brick wall and opt for our last resort; it is the place where we pause, and start again.

“And the tree that was withered shall be renewed.” Tolkien

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10 thoughts on “Reclaiming Our Lives

  1. What a beautiful, honest post. I am so incredibly happy for you. I could see the change in you last week when we talked. It has to be an awesome feeling.

  2. Joy, this is beautiful! You are an amazing writer, and it is wonderful how you share so much. I just got back from a women’s retreat with our church and one of the BIG messages that I picked up, among many, is that God does some of His greatest work through our weaknesses. And then here you say the same thing! Awesome. God is so Good! Love to you and your family.

    • Thanks Beth! I love it when that happens– and generally when something is repeated like that it’s God trying to tell us something! I’m so glad you got to get away on a retreat and that you got so much out of it. Have a great week! love and miss you!

  3. Joy- I have read the last two posts. Thank you so much for honesty and sharing your joy. I can’t wait to see you around town and have you over for a playdate! Katie

  4. Joy,
    Thanks so much for writing this! You inspire me to be more human and humble…and to pause…and start again.

    “There is actually a lot of worth in being insufficient, despite what our culture tells us. It keeps us humble for one, and God does some of the greatest work through weaknesses.”

    I will remember this the next time I am feeling “insufficient.” It is not really true anyway…it is usually just me comparing myself to another’s experience…a common thing we do in our culture.
    Kevin Kuhn

  5. Thank you for this tender, genuine, humble, and profound entry. One that everyone can relate to in many ways!! Whew. Now I’m crying! What a blessing you are to so many.

  6. Joy,
    I have been blessed reading yours’ and Jenelle’s blog since you launched it last year. I have been deeply moved by both of your honest and open sharing.
    Your recent two blogs, “Moving Forward” and “Reclaiming Our Lives” really resonated with me in a number of ways. What an answer to prayer as I see God blessing you and Ben by opening up the right doors at the right time. I am proud of you both for the plan you put together this past year by letting go in order to move forward. Certainly there was both a financial and emotional price to pay which is a humbling experience for us humans. But the fact that you and Ben embraced it with a plan that you dutifully followed every step of the way is a heartening thing for all of us to see. Thank you for being faithful.
    As Judy and I are currently “moving forward” ourselves it is both scary (the unknowns) and exciting (what does God have in store for us). I trust that we will be as adept to the process as you and Ben have.


    Tom (Dad)

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