Justin Ricklefs


Are We Making a Mistake?

She tried to keep it in. She’s a people-pleaser. Like me.

She didn’t want to hurt our feelings.

“Baby, what’s wrong? You can talk to me about it.” It was last Friday night, the first night in our new-to-us house.

Once she knew she had permission to be real, the floodgates opened.

The tears came flying.

“I just…I just feel like we’re making a mistake. Are we making a mistake? I miss our old house…”


It was sandwiched between raw emotion, but the answer to her question was what she was pursuing.

She wanted reassurance. She wanted someone to tell her it would be OK.

Her question cut me to the core.

A lot of this was my idea after all. This whole moving thing.

We’ve done a lot of it in her 12 years of life. This is her 6th house. Not exactly how I would have drawn it up 12 years ago, but it’s how our story has unfolded.

This time, we didn’t have to move. There wasn’t a new job, not even a new city.

We moved less than 5 miles away. Same city, same school district, same lots of things.

But to her, we might as well have moved to Italy. It all felt different now. The things she had grown comfortable with in our old home were gone. The hallway to her room was empty. The bedroom she made her own was someone else’s now.

There are far greater struggles in our country, in my own life even, than moving homes in a relatively safe, kid-friendly, Midwestern city. I get it.

But last Friday night, when she cried and cried wondering if we were making the right decision, I had to tell her something.

I had a couple choices.

My first, most natural inclination, was to smile and encourage us all to power through it. Try and fix it. Try and tell her about all the amazing memories she’ll make in this new house.

Optimism is a gift, but it can be a dangerous curse too. My rose-colored views can isolate those around me who don’t share that view, or at least as often as I have it.

The second, most real inclination, and gratefully the one I chose, was to hug her and not try to rescue her. That’s not my job. My job is love and lead her.

The most loving thing I could have done in that moment was to cry with her and say, “I don’t know baby, we might be. But tomorrow is a new day. I believe we’re here now for a reason, but it’s going to take time.”

I’ve made a million mistakes in my life, likely even in the last month. I don’t think it is, but this may be one of them.

But in the mistakes, I’m learning not to smile my way through them. I’m learning to lean into them, find out why I made them in the first place, and trust the mistake is part of the story that’s unfolding in my life. For my good.

And bigger than that, I’m convinced that part of living a meaningful, adventurous, courageous life is stubbing your toe fairly often.

Sure, you can avoid the pain by not moving, not taking action and playing it safe.

But like the mat we had on our front porch in our now old house says, “Let New Adventures Begin.”


This morning, she came down the stairs, after we had dear friends to our new house late last night, and said, “This is growing on me. For sure.”

The new adventure has begun, even if it comes with some question marks and bloody toes.




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