A few years ago, I tried to learn to surf, thinking it would give me something affordable and fun to do with my girls. So I took a few lessons and boldly set out to begin my new adventure. I’d only go on days with small waves, but judging their size from the shore was difficult for me. Even the smallest wave could toss me around with an unexpected force. I was naively unaware of these difficulties and overly optimistic of my ability. I learned very quickly how wrong I was. I’d jump on my board and paddle out, pulling myself over each wave as they lifted me up and down. Paddling always wore me out, but once I got past the break I knew I could rest a bit. There were some waves I couldn’t get over. They’d lift me up and throw me flat on my back with the board on top of me. I’d roll over and jump back on as quickly as possible. This happened several times before I finally figured out how to duck dive. Sometimes, I just got so tired, I’d let the waves take me back to the shore, utterly exhausted. But other times, I’d manage to get past the break, and I’d lay there for a minute, flat on my belly, my head on the board and my arms dangling in the water. It was so much work to get out there, I just had to rest. I found those moments to be very peaceful and beautiful.
It took many attempts, before I actually got up and rode a wave. Getting myself positioned on the board just right and pushing myself up was never easy. But eventually I rode a wave or two, just long enough to feel the thrill of the sport. I did this for a good 2 years, before giving it up. I was never really consistent or any good, but I really enjoyed it, until I experienced something very uncomfortable. I had fallen many times before, but this day I fell and tumbled in the waves, like laundry in a dryer. I fought hard to get out of it, but as I swam up, my head hit the sand. I had no sense of direction and I panicked. I couldn’t hold my breath very long and I just kept tumbling. Then, I thought if I could just relax, my body would float up. So, with all my might, I went completely limp. I instantly reached the surface and gasped for air. I was done for the day.
Life can be a lot like surfing. We want to ride the waves, but we find ourselves fighting them, one by one, hoping to reach that break, long enough to see and feel peace, rest and beauty. We want to enjoy life, but instead, end up doing a lot of paddling. We often feel exhausted, defeated and ready to quit. We take falls that often send us crashing to the ground with no sense of direction and we wonder if we’ll ever catch our breath or see the light of day. We think we can fight our way out of trouble. But at some point, we realize that fighting only tires us more. And when we reach the end of ourselves, our own efforts and our last breath, our only choice is to fall limp in the arms of God and trust that He will lift us up.