Dear wonderful reader
I’d love to tell you this story over coffee and rusks at my kitchen table. Maybe there’ll be time for that, as Robert Frost said, ‘somewhere ages and ages hence.’
For now, I wanted to let you know that as of February 2021, God willing, I’ll be writing to you from the other side of the equator.
The full story is a long story. Too long for a blog post. I hope to have time and space soon enough to write it all up into the book it needs to be. It’s been a breath-taking, faith-building, multi-faceted experience of proper adulting and every steep, emotionally-textured learning curve needs its own chapter.
The blog-length summary goes something like this:
Twelve and a half years ago, when we discovered our firstborn was blind and would be visually impaired despite surgery, we knew God had set us on a unique journey as a family.
There’s grace aplenty for all this, every time the sun comes up. We don’t feel sorry for ourselves. We don’t feel sorry for our son. Or his brother, Scott. Cameron’s disability doesn’t define him, or us. In fact, Cam doesn’t see himself as disabled – just adaptive.
Still, the reality is we’re called to make decisions differently to most other families. Atypical things are at stake, and up for consideration. In trying to unlock whatever spaces will help Cam lean into his full potential as a marvellous human, we constantly scour the horizon of his future for options that will create greater freedom for him – maximum access and dignity and independence.
There have been spoons stirring what swirls in other areas of our lives too – but more about that in the book I haven’t yet written.
All these simmering stirrings were brought to the boil in February this year.
Because my grandfather was born in England, I qualify for a five-year Ancestry Visa to the UK. Murray and our boys get to hop onto that thing as dependents.
A month before lockdown, we found out that if we head to the UK for the full five years, and if those five years fall before our boys turn eighteen, they qualify for British citizenship. (If Murray and I wanted citizenship – and the jury is still out on that one – we’d need to stay longer.)
Thing is, Cam turns thirteen in April 2021. For us to take advantage of the get-your-British-passport-in-a-mere-five-years deal, we need to leave before then.
It’s now or never.
We pretty much spent 2020 crying and praying, and then praying. And then crying. And praying some more. And scenario-planning around Scott’s dreams, and Murray’s, and mine. And unpacking Cam’s textbook condition from every angle. And drinking thousands of cups of tea to rival the tide of overwhelm. We did this very, very late into the night. For many nights.
It’s an easy decision at face value:
An incredible window of opportunity has opened! What’s the big deal?
What’s made the decision excruciatingly difficult (and I’m not being dramatic), is how much we love our continent, and our community. It’s actually good that it’s been difficult. If we’ve loved and been loved – and we have, and have been – then a decision like this should be the very hardest thing any of us ever do.
I love South Africa with the marrow of my bones.
I love my family and friends even more.
Murray and I were both born under the jacarandas of our nation’s capital, and so were on boys. Our roots in this city run kilometres deep and for sure, you can take the girl out of Pretoria but you can never take Pretoria out of the girl.
We love the life we’ve built.
We love our church. We love our home. We love our school. We love our work. We love our daily-weekly-yearly rhythms. We’ve been dropped into a strong current of community through which the power and love of God flow deep and wide, fast and free. It’s lifted our feet. We can’t touch the sides or the bottom. So great has been the love we’ve been freely given, and which we’ve freely been able to give.
And yet, as Rosa Luxemburg said, ‘Those who do not move, do not notice their chains.’ God has been tugging on us to strain against the chains, even though the chains are gold and they make us rich and safe.
We’ve wrestled with the paradoxical truths of life is people but also, people move on. We’re called to build Kingdom by knitting our souls and our stories to others. We’re called to build Kingdom by following the unique call of God on each of our lives.
And so, the struggle.
Through all the crying, praying, and tea-drinking, God has confirmed over and over (through His Word, miraculous circumstances, our family and community, peace and opportunity – again, more in the book) that taking this step is the wisest thing to do – and that not taking this step would be something we’d regret in decades to come.
So we’re determined not to allow fear or comfort to keep us from stepping into what we’re framing as the Five-Year Reyburn Family Adventure.
The future is unknown and uncertain for every one of us. Yet we’re in the hands of a kind and generous Father who doesn’t do things TO us; He does things FOR us. And as my friend Blaine Vorster writes, ‘I wonder how many incredible adventures have been missed from fear of taking the first step.’
I’d be so grateful if you prayed for us.
A.W. Tozer said, ‘God never uses anyone greatly until He tests them deeply.’
The overarching desire of my heart is to be used of God for the fame of His name. If Tozer was right – and I suspect he was – then I trust God will use our family for His Kingdom and glory, because this has been off-the-charts our biggest test yet.
All we ever have is right now, and eternity. And all we’re called to do is the next right thing with the right now that’s right in front of us.
For us, it’s this move.
We’re sad, but we’re not stuck, because seas separate lands, not souls.
I’m grateful and honoured we get to stay friends here in this small corner of the internet, and at the end of this wild ride called 2020, I’m sending you Christmas tidings of comfort and joy. May you know strength and laughter and love in all your tomorrows.
. . .
Feel free to pay this post forward to your people.
Here’s what’s on the menu if you’re reading this in an email: