I want to be home.

I am on the road teaching my class, “Veterans, Police Officers, and Communities in Crisis: Responding to Trauma,” and as I was hitting the hotel’s elliptical machine I began to reminisce about the 19 years my wife and I have been married. Really, it had begun on my flight from Indianapolis and intensified as we landed in Orlando and I walked through the insanely busy Orlando International Airport. There were people from all over the planet in all stages of life, rushing to and fro at the world’s amusement park capital. My only thought, I want to be home.

For my wife and I, life has been love, nine kids, many hopes and many trials. Many, many trials. Some of which endure until this day. It is tough on my love as she must run a household while homeschooling a mess of kids from seven months to eighteen years old while I travel speaking and teaching. I don’t know how she does it. And I do not remind her enough of her remarkable effort. It is soul-crushing – my selfishness when l’m gone and usually forget about the immense task she shoulders. Still, she keeps us all together and even when hundreds and often thousands of miles separate us, in spite of my sins, we are ever connected. That is the thought that hit me as I reached the resort where the class was being held, unpacked in my room and then headed for the gym. We are ever connected and nothing else matters.

Breathe The Air

Breathe the air with someone long enough, share a bed, start and raise a family, curse and kiss, you will understand how deep girded love is far more than an emotion. It is a cable running through the earth that holds everything above it secure in the worst of storms. It supports like the roots of a tree buried deep, not seeking attention to itself.

Our roots began on a trip to Elvis’s Graceland in my mom’s car not long after we had first met over twenty years ago. It propelled us to California, back home to Indiana, and now we have spawned a tribe of homeschooling, morning praying, Jedi trained warriors (At least until they are old enough to know Jedi’s aren’t real and neither is my training! Then they just humor me.), sports, music, bb guns, living room brawls and more concurrent talking than you could ever imagine. Yet, in spite of all the wonder and authentic living, all too often I allowed myself to become consumed by the anxiety of bills, lost opportunities, failures, mistakes, poor decisions, and an untold number of other choices I can never get back.

A Talisman of Fire

What fights regret as one ages and looks back on life? So mysterious is mankind, I can only speak for myself. My talisman is the fire of love for my wife and family, its breadth sustaining and life bringing. As I closed in on the final minutes of my 45-minute workout all worries faded into the light of those faces. What comfort is their grace. Many years from now when I draw near the passage of this life, their radiance will eclipse the pain, regret, and sorrow that can sometimes seems unquenchable.

And so it was I returned to the room after my workout and texted my wife a simple message: “The greatest story I will ever tell is mine and yours.”

Her reply was like honey dripped on fresh bread.

“I would hang on every word.”

Hold dear the roots that gird us when the storms of life take our eyes off that which matters most. And if you are alone, be brave. Walk from your darkness, reach for another, and hold on like your life depended on it, because it does.