Saturday, July 17, 2010

Just go with the flow

I have been struggling lately. Is that too honest? That's why I haven't blogged in over a month. Some new health challenges cropped up and it really pushed me to a point of profound discouragement and anger. In the middle of this, my family needed to use a groupon certificate that my husband had bought for ocean kayaking before it expired. We've never been ocean kayaking before and I was a little nervous. When I added in my current state of health and my weakness...I was even more nervous. So we set out, I was sharing a kayak with Rick and before we even made it through the waves he leaned wrong and dumped us. Our friends and kids were all out past the surf, we had to continue but I just wanted to turn around and go back. My anxiety was now really high as we tried to climb back in among the waves. We got ourselves situated and headed out to join our group. But we faced the challenge of coordinating our strokes and for whatever reason we couldn't seem to get that unity down. We also faced the ocean current and we spent most of our time fighting against the current, trying to get the kayak to go the way that we wanted it to go, fearing that we were going to be swept in the wrong direction. Every now and then we would look up and see the amazing coastline of La Jolla, or we would watch as our kids seemed to effortlessly glide in their kayaks with friends. We made it back in, relatively unscathed but sore and tired and not entirely sure that this was an experience we enjoyed or would want to repeat.

As I reflected and prayed later I realized that my experience kayaking was a lot like my life.

First of all, I had little real control in the water. I couldn't control the waves, I couldn't control what Rick was doing, I couldn't control the current or the sea lions or anything else that might decide to swim near me. But I fought to be in control. How much easier would kayaking have been, how much easier would my life be if I decided just to accept what I couldn't control.

Secondly, when I let fear and anxiety rule the unity I need to have with my family flies away. Rick and I couldn't get coordinated in our strokes. I was focusing on what he was doing and trying to match it all while sitting in front of him where I couldn't actually see him. That combined with my own innate lack of coordination made it a little difficult for him to try and match my strokes so that we were in sync.

Third, and this is the one that I really felt like God wanted to show me, I can't fight the current. When I fought the current I ended up frustrated and exhausted. I didn't change the current--it continued to flow in the direction it was going to flow in. And fighting it and fearing it made me stiff, it caused me to miss looking up and seeing the beauty all around me. I was so intent on fighting the direction that things were going that I missed the fun of the experience and I missed the scenery.

I have been fighting the current of my life lately. My health issues are big. I have major things wrong with my body. That's the current. And fighting it means that I'm trying to fix the problems in my body and most of them are things that actually can't be fixed. They're caused by a genetic defect that science can't correct yet. So when I fight that current I end up just like I did in the ocean, exhausted, frustrated, full of anxiety and missing a ton of beauty and fun. When I was in my kayak and we went with the current it was a completely different experience. We made progress, we were in sync and it was so much easier. And that's the key learning for my life. The ocean didn't change. The current didn't change, but learning to paddle in a way that used the current and relaxing enough to enjoy going in the direction the current was taking us made for a better experience.

I don't want to miss the beauty and the blessing that God has provided in my life because I'm fighting a current I can't change. It's not giving up when I decide to stop fighting. Sometimes it's just learning to paddle with the current so that the force of the thing that used to drain me now becomes a force that is providing some unique experiences. I guess going kayaking was a good thing after all.

John 10:10 (Amplified Bible) The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it [a]overflows).