Hmmm, where do I begin? I think I’ve said that before in starting off a new blog post. Oh yeah, that’s how this one starts: “Where Do I Begin…?” I apologize for being repetitive, but I seem to have a lot of thoughts swirling in my head at the moment, but no consistent theme or direction for where they may be going. All of which leads me to wonder just where to begin?
Maybe I should start with the probable catalyst for those swirled thoughts: the impending premiere of our show on TLC, “Quints by Surprise.” Certainly something like this, as surreal as it still feels, can be at least partly to blame for the tempest between the lobes so why not start there?
It is an exciting time to be a member of our little family…exciting, bewildering, happy, stressful, fun, chaotic…surreal. It seems like this day, the one that is coming on Monday, has been coming for a long time. I won’t really say it is the achievement of a goal we have been aiming for because we did not set out on this journey with a TV show as the ultimate goal. I know, I know – the cynics and skeptics are all rolling their eyes right now because surely that has been the aim all along for this fame-seeking, child-exploiting, Bible-relying-only-as-a-means-for-selling-our-story family of ours. But let’s all just pretend for the moment that I’m actually telling the truth when I say this has never been a goal of ours and that we did not intentionally have quintuplets so that we could be on TV. At least allow your disbelief to be suspended for the sake of the drama of this blog post…deal?
Though the response to our decision to do the show has been 99.99% positive there are still those, even among the supporters, who question why we would go this route. “Haven’t you learned anything from Jon and Kate?” they say. “What will make your show different?”, “How will you protect your family?”, “Do you think you’re ready for this?” are other versions of the same question. These are all reasonable questions (though generally not reasonable when issued in the tone in which they are usually uttered by the M&M’s – that’s my new name for them, the cynics…it stands for “The Miniscule Minority”) and I assure you we have considered all of these things and more. And here is one other thing I can assure you: we don’t have the answers to those questions and many of the others we have considered.
Have you ever made a mistake? It’s a silly question, I know, of course everyone on this planet has made many mistakes big and small. But have you ever known you were making that mistake while you were in the act of doing whatever it is you were doing? I know there are those times when you make a decision you know you’ll probably regret (binge drinking and the hangover the next day, the fight you got into and the bruises that took forever to heal, skipping school to go shopping and the detention that followed), but that’s not the kind of mistake I’m referring to.
What I mean is have you ever done something, maybe something like handling a customer service complaint at your job, taking a client out to lunch, meeting up with a boy or girl after school, or something else like those scenarios I mentioned that “seemed like a good idea at the time”? But then you told your boss how you handled the complaint, you told your wife that you took your female client out to lunch, or you told your boyfriend that you hung out with that other boy after school and you knew by their instant reaction that it really wasn’t a good idea after all? Or how about this – have you ever taken a job that you later wished you hadn’t? Have you ever given a girlfriend a second chance only to be later dragged through a second round of hell when things don’t turn out as you had hoped? Have you ever told your boss that you would like to take on a new project thinking it will kick start your career only for it to turn into an unmanageable debacle that short circuits the path you were on? Those are the kind of mistakes I am referring to – the kind that were well thought out and pined over – advice-seeking, life-changing kind of decisions which later turn out to be painful lessons in how not to do something? Some would say that our decision to use fertility drugs to get pregnant was one of those mistakes though you would have a fight on your hands if you said it to us directly.
So now you know the answer to my original question is no. No, you did not know you were making a mistake at the time you were in fact in the act of making a very big mistake, possibly one that would impact you for years to come. I have made those mistakes and then some. I have taken a job I later regretted taking. I have had the hangover the next day. I have taken on the career-kick-start project. And then I have found myself stuck in a situation of my own creation, struggling to find a way out of the consequences I have brought on myself. And what is funny is that in each of these situations I have been able to look back with startling clarity and almost always point to the exact moment my thinking, planning, and pining took a turn down the wrong path. How I could have missed that point the first time around, I’ll never know, but miss it I did!
I will freely and openly admit this to each and everyone of you out there reading these words right now: it is entirely within the realm of possibilities that we are making a mistake by deciding to do this show. There, does that make you feel better? No, I do not have a magic mirror that tells me all that lies ahead and we do not have a special protector watching over us to ensure that we cannot be harmed by the decisions that we make. Therefore, it is wholly realistic to believe that we might be making a mistake.
But we don’t live our lives making decisions simply to avoid the possibility of making a mistake and neither do most of you. Most of you are no different from us in that you are presented with an opportunity, you gather the best information you can, you analyze that information as best you can sometimes with the counsel of others, you pray about it, and then you make the decision you believe will be the best thing for you and your family based on the information you have gathered, your analysis of that information, and hopefully on the direction God is calling you to go. And that is exactly what we are doing here. The risks and benefits have been assessed, the safeguards have been put in place, the continued counsel of good friends and advisers will be sought…yet the possibility of mistake still lies in wait, lurking on the other side of every corner we encounter.
I have taken on a motto for myself and the way that I approach living since Christ turned my entire world on its head two years ago and it is this: Pursue Life. I got it from Matthew 8:22 which says, “First things first. Your business is life, not death. Follow me. Pursue Life.” Good stuff, right? And yes, it was printed in red. I do not know what that passage means to you when you read it, but to me it means to seek every opportunity that Christ puts in your path and pursue those opportunities with vigor until the day that Christ directs you in another way. It means to move forward without reservation, focus your eyes on Christ, and dare to take the road less traveled if that is the road he is leading you down. It means to get out of the boat and truly believe that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. It means to control what you can control and leave the rest up to him…
Yes, it is possible that we are making a mistake with the choices we have made. I’ll give you that. But it is equally possible, if not more so that our life will never be better because of these very same decisions. It is also just as likely that there is someone out there who will be positively impacted by our story and that alone makes the effort worth the risks it brings (In fact, this has already happened. Read here if you’d like to hear some of their stories: “This is Why We Do It“). How will the show be different and how will we avoid the pitfalls of those who have gone before us? Honestly, I don’t know. But doing just those things is something we have given a lot of thought to and something that we are committed to achieving. More importantly than any thought or effort we can put into making a difference is the fact that we define ourselves as Christians and we believe in a different way of life than many out there. And hopefully through the simple daily acts of trying to follow Christ’s example we will make a difference by showing that there is in fact a difference in the way you can choose to live your own life.
Why are we doing this? Well of course we are doing it for ourselves. And we are doing it for others. Most importantly we are doing it for our faith and we are even doing it for the M&M’s – the cynics, the holier-than-thous, the judgmentals, the moralists, and the pessimists. Because we know you’ll be reading these words and rolling your eyes. We know you’ll be watching the shows and shaking your head. You’ll be paying attention, waiting to pounce when we stumble. We know this, I can’t explain why you would want to spend your time doing this, but you’ve proven time and again that you will always be with us. And so, yes, we also do this for you. To hopefully show you a different way as well. I am not guaranteeing anyone that we will be successful in our pursuit, but I will guarantee you that there is no stopping us from pursuing the life that we believe we are called to lead. Pursue life…to me, there is no other way to live!!
“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 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 and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for 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 he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”