May 4, 2016

The reason I'm here

I've lived in Los Angeles for about 9 months now.

Popular recommendations for [already working] actors moving to Los Angeles for a [more significant] career in acting is to allow at least two years before giving up. It takes time to build relationships and find your way out here.

So who am I to have thought I could accomplish in a year what the "experts" say takes at least two?

Well, let's push aside the notion that there are actually experts who know definitively how long it takes to make it in Hollywood. We can study statistics and trends and add a little gut-instinct to form a theoretical equation, but every path is different.

Every. Path. Is. Different.

I was hedging my bets that my path would defy the experts. And it still may. After all, I had so many things going for me back in August when I made the move. I had a theatrical agent ready to sign me as soon as I got to town. And a reputable agent at that. How? I had a Los Angeles Casting Director who believed in me and set up a meeting with the agency. That doesn't happen often to small-market actors moving to LA. Unless you're ridiculously gorgeous. Which I'm not. Or remarkably unique. Which I'm not. Or related to Francis Ford Coppola. Again, which I'm not.

I'd made friends with successful actors out here, recognizable faces from film and television. Certainly they could help me kickstart things. They still may.

Even if the acting thing didn't pan out right away, I had screenwriting to fall back on. Heck, I have two scripts right now that have turned some heads. I mean, one of them has to hit, right? They may or may not.

I've produced two feature films. That must mean something, right?

I've appeared in dozens of commercials and hundreds of projects overall. I'm not completely green. I know what I'm doing in front of the camera and behind it.

But most importantly, I was convinced God brought me out here. He wouldn't bring me out here to fail, would He? If the 2-year-rule applied to me, God would have given us more money so we could afford to be out here more than a year, right?

Besides, how many people come out here without God and still find success? I'm pursuing this career for the right reasons. It's not fame or fortune I desire. It's happiness in doing what I love and sharing God's love with an industry that needs it.

God needs people like me in this industry.


Okay, here comes the revelation I have just recently experienced. No, let me rephrase that... here comes the revelation I finally realized.

God brought me out here not to fulfill my desires but to fulfill His desires for me.

Look, I still want to succeed in Hollywood more than most folks could fully understand, but I'm rearranging my thinking, even as I type this.

Let me paint the dots I'm now connecting in reverse.

Before moving to Los Angeles, I scouted many potential landing spots. I settled on Santa Clarita because the schools are outstanding and it's more affordable to live here than Burbank. I was specific within Santa Clarita of where we wanted to be according to school boundaries. A house was available in one of our chosen areas and I connected with the rental company. A woman named Kim was my contact there. We clicked right away, but when I admitted we were moving from Minnesota and were going to live off our savings and didn't have jobs lined up, she said they couldn't help us.

And yet, somehow we ended up in this lovely house on a quiet street without even seeing it in person before signing the rental agreement.

Did I mention our realtor in Minnesota, a friend of more than a decade, didn't want to put our house on the market because he didn't see any chance of it selling in time? It sold in time.

Now, another thing I'd done from Minnesota before moving out here was connect to a couple pastors of a Lutheran Church in Santa Clarita. Getting involved with a church right away was important to us and we were all set to visit that church on the second Sunday we were here.

The only problem was getting out the door in time. Kids have a way of delaying departure times. With the church being 15 minutes away and us being 10 minutes late, we decided to visit a nearer church.

Did I mention that Kim from the rental company is a Christian and had texted a few church options in our area? Yeah.

Five minutes from our house is a Baptist Church. Grace Baptist, to be exact. My wife and I grew up Lutheran. We sit in the back. We don't raise our hands during praise and worship. We don't shout "Amen" while the preacher preaches.

We also didn't know the difference between "Southern Baptist" and "Baptist."

But Grace was close enough for us to make it in time. We'd give the Lutheran church a chance next Sunday.

We've never looked back since visiting Grace that morning.

I've been a church goer my whole life. There's never been a time that I haven't attended a church, at least semi-regularly. There's also never been a time when I could say whole-heartedly that I love my church. Until Grace.

I love my church.

It's funny... My wife and I had a conversation a couple months ago talking about our future and whether we'll be staying in SoCal past the summer or back in Minnesota. We both admitted that if nothing else, at least being here and getting involved at Grace has strengthened our faith. So even if I fail in the movie industry, at least a bi-product of our journey to Santa Clarita will be a strengthened faith.

And that is where the revelation happened. That misguided statement of a strengthened faith being the bi-product of our journey west.

I now know that a strengthened faith is not the bi-product of our journey out here. It's the absolute reason God brought us here! I don't doubt that even a tiny bit.

God brought us here for Grace Baptist.

If I succeed in the movie industry, that will be a bi-product of us coming out here to strengthen our faith. I had it backwards before.

If you're not a man or woman of faith, I expect you to be skeptical of my claims here. Heck, I've been a man of faith my whole life and I would have been skeptical of this claim even a few weeks ago. But I'm telling you, I have not felt this close to God since before losing my sister in a tragic car crash nearly 13 years ago.

The practical side of all of us will scoff at the price my family paid to come out here. If we have to move back to Minnesota, we will be doing so with almost no money to our names. Gone is our savings, our equity, our stability.

But you know what? God is bigger than money and material things. He's never been unfaithful to us before and that's not going to change. I'd rather live poor and unsure of my next paycheck with a good relationship with God than live rich and apart from Him.

After all, Jesus tells us in Luke 16:13 that we cannot serve both God and money. I hate that I've spent so much of my life serving money instead of God. What did it get me? Less of both!

I still don't know where my family and I will be in August, but isn't it exciting that God is already there waiting to reveal Himself in a way I cannot even imagine today?

The dots I've connected in the last several years are amazing, and maybe I'll share more about them in a future blog entry. But for now, I'm just excited to connect tomorrow's dots the day after tomorrow.

I love you, Lord. Thank you for bringing me back to You.