By Donald Miller
My dear friends Jesse and Brianne Olson e-mailed me a picture of their daughter this morning. She’s beautiful of course, and strong and smart just like her parents and her name is Payson.
What got me all choked up, though, was her name. I knew immediately where the name came from. I was there when the name Payson was born, sort of. It was a few years ago and we were all riding our bikes across America. We’d been in the desert for a week, riding through temperatures as high as 112 degrees.
The day we rode out of Phoenix was one of the hardest days of the trip. We rode over mountains and then more mountains. Every range we climbed revealed another range. Our hearts sank each time we topped a massive, hours-long climb. We slept in a rock quary for rest, literally flat on our backs on piles of rocks. We drank gallons of water but never quenched our thirst, and our stopping place was hours and hours away. The ride was so tough a friend and I actually got off our bikes and walked the last few miles, our tires flat from punctured tubes. We walked into town long after sunset. But we made it.
Jesse and Brianna were riding a tandem. No kidding, they rode together, as a married couple, all the way across America. These people are not small on perseverance, and Jesse is one of the toughest men I’ve ever met.
So Payson, their first child’s name, came from a day when they decided not to quit. They decided that no matter what challenge lay in front of them, they were a team and they’d live together and die together.
Here’s the e-mail they sent. I hope you find it inspiring, and I hope it helps you remember no matter what you’re going through, that pain creates beauty. Keep pedaling.
So here it is… the story you’ve all been waiting for. I’m sorry it has taken so long to get it posted. I wanted to be able to sit down for a minute & give a good explanation.
Yes, Payson is named after Payson, Arizona.
You may recall the ride…
It had to be about 115 degrees out, the mileage was probably around 90 for the day, and there was no shade, not a shadow… (You may recall our lunch break & nap in the rock quarry that Greg calmly ended with his assessment, “Y’all know this is prime rattle snake territory don’t ya?”)
The ride to Payson was NOT for the faint of heart. I struggled all day “thinking” that my breaking point was sooner than it actually was…
Some of you may remember me getting in the van, expecting to have Jesse join me… Well… “Manimal” went on riding the tandem ALONE! That is one of the more heart breaking images I can picture these days; seeing my husband push through and do something alone that we were supposed to be working at together.
I got back on the tandem the first chance we had to pull off & finished the day out. I feel like that was the day we learned to ride as a team.
I also will never forget feeling that Payson was the most refreshing end to a ride that we experienced the whole tour. The air was crisp & cool. It was the first time we smelled PINE TREES!
So essentially, our daughter is named after a journey where we pushed through & learned to work as a team, where we learned the truth about ourselves & I like to think of her name meaning something like, “Refreshing.”
Her middle name is Grace. It’s not meant to refer to the Grace of Payson. It’s a separate idea all together about hidden strength. People tend to think of Grace & associate it with Ballerinas. I think of Grace & think of the difference of living by the law vs. living by Grace. Living by Grace is SO MUCH HARDER. It takes so much more wisdom and strength. So there you have it. Payson Grace Olson. She’s our daughter. We’re excited to see what God does through this precious girl & are so glad that you are all a part of the memory she is named after.
Welcome to the world, Payson. Welcome to the beauty God has made. May you have adventures of your own, and a community to get you through, and something beautiful at the end of your journey that you could have never expected. We’ve been waiting for you. We love you.