Many of you know I wrote the book The Muir House. What you might not know is the why behind it. Although it’s a risk for me to share it, I feel it’s important, and it will deepen your experience of the book.
Those who have read my story in Thin Places know I endured some trauma in my childhood. Sexual abuse at five, several parental divorces, the death of my father. All these things served to help me see my gaping need for Jesus. While it’s painful that I had to endure what I did, I can now see those trials as the very means God used to bring me to Himself. To put it simply, my daddy-shaped-hole made me yearn for the Daddy who would never leave me.I’ve been on the journey of healing many, many years now. Although I’ve grown so much, there is one thing I can’t seem to get over: a hole in my memory. Even writing it scares me. What will my extended family think? Will this cause more friction? What if my empty memory is nothing?
The weird thing about my brain is that I remember everything. I have a clear memory of being about two years old, extremely vivid. And then nothing until I am four. Normally I would just chalk this up to being a child and forgetting or simply not remembering, but when I’ve asked my relatives about it, the answer never comes. Some have started crying. “Why would you want to know that? Why go back there?” Others are adamant that nothing happened to me. Others think I’m crazy for asking. But always, there is never a satisfactory answer and lots and lots of evasion. Rumors have flown around about homelessness, but nothing I can pin down.
I need to know. It’s this ache inside me, this agony to know what was missing from my life. What happened? Why won’t anyone tell me?
This search has driven me to become an investigative reporter. I’ve dug up old acquaintances from the past, written letters, sent emails, hoping to unfold the mystery. Nothing. I’ve prayed, but no insight has come. I’ve tried to settle myself, but I’m still antsy.
I wonder if there’s something I don’t know. Or if I have a lost sibling. All my adult life, folks have told me I look like Laura Dern. Imagine my crazy mind when I found out we share the exact same birthday! Same year. Was I a twin separated at birth? (Now you’re seeing my neurosis!)
Something that has helped me with my need to know was remembering something my husband Patrick told me years ago. With words, he painted a picture. He said my distance (at the time) felt like I was pacing the high dive, deciding whether I would jump into the pool. Down below were my children and him, all beckoning me to jump. But I paced. And worried. And fretted. I didn’t jump. Instead, in the word picture, I came off the high dive, then sat on the side of the pool and dangled my feet.
Our discussion after that helped me see an important truth. No matter what may make you pace the high dive (for me it’s this missing memory conundrum), you can still make a choice to live, to enjoy, to engage with people. You don’t have to be trapped up there or be relegated to the side of the pool.
This is why I wrote The Muir House. I wanted to explore the idea that we may never know the exact truth of things. We may investigate until our heart is raw. But even if things are left unresolved, we always have the choice to grow and live anyway. Willa had that choice. I have that choice. Even Laura Dern has that choice.
We can let the past be our excuse to live crippled lives.
Or we can leap into the halcyon air, and jump footfirst into life.
Which will you choose?
If you’d like to explore these issues in a page-turning novel, purchase The Muir House here.