On Your Mark… Get Set… Jump…

When Matt and I started Jones House Creative four years ago, we leaped confidently off of a cliff from this wonderful place of assurance and strength. We had a lovely reserve in savings, a retirement fund that was growing, college savings for our kids, and I had confidently written a blog on finance for the past three years.

Matt and I had a plan.  We had a word from God in the direction of the business.  We knew it would be hard, but we were also excited about the adventure of it.  Like Abram setting out from Ur, we had this lovely confidence that God had gone before us.  We were heading to a new land, a new frontier of owning our own business.  But about one second after we jumped off of that cliff, we abruptly realized that the free fall from job security felt a lot more like dying than soaring to new land.  The looming disaster beneath us felt like the only thing we could see and it was hard to remember that there had ever been land beneath our feet.  Everything fell apart.

Interestingly, the same thing happened to Abraham.  For Abraham it was friction with Lot, selfishness and sin that ended in Sodom and Gomorrah, famine that lead to the ugly “mix-up” with the Pharaoh of Egypt where Sarah was taken to his harem, and then barrenness for Sarah for 25 years after God had promised them a child. And then there was the illegitimate child scandal, and abandoning the child and mother to die in the wilderness…  what a horrible journey!  How much he must have missed the nice safe cliff of Ur behind him.  We certainly did.

Yet the thing that has always astounded me about Abraham’s story is Hebrews chapter 11:8-19 where every failure of Abraham is recounted, but seen through the eyes of faith…
“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called…”
“By faith he dwelt in the land…”
“By faith he waited…”
“By faith Sarah also received strength to conceive…”
“By faith Abraham, when he was tested…”

I look at the story of Abraham and I see hardship and failure, but when God looked at Abraham he saw faith.  So much so that Romans 4:18-22 says that Abraham “being fully convinced that what He [God] had promised He was also able to perform.”  Abraham believed God and it was “accounted to him for righteousness.”

What a summary of His life!  How different from my own perception of Abraham’s life!  And how different from my perception of my own journey. I have to say that for the past four years, everything about our journey has felt like failure.  I can sugar coat starting your own business, but the reality is that there is a natural free fall when you step from the ledge of security to being self employed.

Unfortunately, if you are a perfectionist with a strong ideal of how things should go and what should be happening, the natural fall is going to feel like a lot like failure.  And for me, the by-product of that perfectionism and perceived failure was shame.

And shame has silenced me for the last 3 and half years.  Shame that I just couldn’t figure it out, scheme it out, plan it out. Shame that my faith was so very rocked by the lack of firm ground beneath my feet.  Shame so crippling that I felt like I no longer had anything to say.

Imagine if that had been Abraham’s response.  You see, even my response to Abraham’s story is so telling of my position in my own story.  Shame keeps you from seeing the big picture of what God is doing because you can’t let go of the last failure.  Shame paralyses you by trapping you in the past and the fear that it will happen again.

The story of our business has a lot of facets, but I have to say that until I learned about “shame resilience”, I haven’t wanted to share any of them.  And that “shame resilience” has come in large part with the realization that there is no perfect.  There is just our very real, very lived out story and that God truly has been with us every step of the way.  His view is a lot different than mine, and I think the whole time I was worrying about the ground below me and the shame of falling rather than flying, He has been championing our faith and marking each difficulty with a milestone of what He sees in our hearts, rather than our finances.

Every part of our journey through life is a story to be shared, and thanks to God’s wonderful grace and learning to give it to myself as well, I am no longer ashamed to tell it.