When it comes to leaping, the thing that holds many of us back is most often the unknown. We fear it. Making a leap typically involves some uncertainty, which is why they require faith and, sometimes, jumping with one eye open and one eye closed.
You can prepare as best you can — but with the unknown, there is only so much you can do. It scares me. I’m the kind of person who wants to know what to expect so that I have a chance to brace myself and prepare for whatever blows may come my way. But time has also taught me that the unknown can result in a beautiful surprise — a moment, an experience, a marriage greater than you could have ever imagined. Greater than what you once knew. But leaping requires courage. Leaping is an act of bravery, and the reward is great because “love rewards the brave.”
Recently my Instagram friend shared those words, and they’ve been in my head on repeat. “Love rewards the brave.” Making the leap is worth the gamble when the reward is so great.
There was a period in my life when I had decided that marriage was not for me. After separating from my first husband and becoming a single mother, I couldn’t fathom the idea of navigating dating and parenthood. I could have a hard time all by myself. I didn’t need help. I knew my heart wasn’t the only heart at risk of being broken.
As I juggled school, daycare, and work schedules, sippy cups, college textbooks, and divorce literature, occasionally I dreamed of what I wanted my life to look like. The dream mirrored the ones of my childhood. Sometimes the setting was different, but the starring roles were always the same: a husband and children. I wanted a family. I wanted my babies to have two sets of hands to hold. I wanted a pair to hold.
And then I met him. A living, breathing embodiment of my dreams. My dream then changed, and suddenly the set of hands I wanted to hold had a name and a face. My dreams consisted of a “forever and always” with him and my baby girl. But my dream would have remained just that — a dream — had I not had the courage to leap. A leap that involved doing the unthinkable — after great conversation and a comfort I had never felt before (coupled with epic butterflies), I nervously told him he could “call me sometime.”
My reward: a phone call the next morning. But the rewards didn’t end there. Sure, there were challenges and breakups and moments where I felt anything but rewarded. Yet in the grand scheme of things, I was rewarded — and handsomely, if I do say so myself.
I spent my 20s striving to live courageously, working hard and pressing my way through obstacles in an effort to rewrite the story that statistics, family history, and “haters” had written for me. My story, a story of second chances, involved me giving marriage a second chance. Giving love a second chance. And because I made the leap, I have had the opportunity to experience true love. A love with a man that makes me feel as if he was hand-picked by God, just for me. A man who, on a daily basis, confirms that my decision to love each and every day — to not be afraid to love with my whole heart and put my all into loving him (and our sweet babies) — was the right decision. As was the decision to love fiercely and bravely because love rewards the brave.
As children, we often long for that happily ever after. And most often it does arrive. But sometimes it’s:
Happily (ever) after a heartbreak.
Happily (ever) after a loss.
Happily (ever) after a divorce.
Happily (ever) after you let go and leap.
Sometimes you have to go through a few things to get to your happy. And sometimes the road to happiness will entail trials interwoven with sheer bliss. But when you have to fight, work, and crawl your way to happiness, most often its value is far greater than it would be had it been handed to you. When you’ve gone through some things and find yourself in limbo, on the brink of leaping or becoming stagnant, you come to see that you have more to lose by not letting go and making the jump.
My life is by no means easy. These days, it feels far more complex than I’d like. And I don’t have everything I want from a material standpoint. But I have someone who holds my hand just like I wanted and helps me press through the tough stuff. More important, I have been blessed with exactly what I needed. My acts of bravery resulted in remarrying and the greatest forms of love I will ever know. The love I experience as a mother to two precious daughters and the love I experience as a wife to one perfectly imperfect man. A man who not only walks with me but from time to time leaps with me too.
May we all find the courage to leap. May we live and love bravely.
Photo Source: Wedding photo by Rakeem Cunningham