I am a Jersey girl through and through. This means many things. One of the biggest things it means is that when it’s summertime I am heading to the shore as often as I possibly can. If your only experience with the Jersey shore has been the horrible MTV show that has the same name you cannot understand how wonderful the shore actually is. Just trust me on this because the point of this blog is not to talk about the differences between the two. Instead the point of this blog is something that really struck me one of the times I was at the shore this summer.
One Sunday in July after church a few friends and I went down to Ship Bottom, Long Beach Island. For two of my friends (Segun and Linda) this was their first trip down the shore. So the two experts (AJ and me) spent the first part of the afternoon telling them all about how to make sure their shore experience was the best it could possibly be. It was a gorgeous day and the water while chilly at first was also wonderful. After setting up our towels on the sand we decided it was time to hit the water. I began explaining to S and L that if they didn’t want to get knocked over by waves they needed to move out from the shallow portion of the water. As we began to get used to the temperature AJ and I began wading further and further out. Eventually Linda joined us past the breaking point. And where was Segun during all of this? Standing right where the waves break and getting knocked over every five seconds or so. We kept shouting “You have to come out past the breaking point! You won’t get knocked over if you come out into the deeper water!”
I don’t tell this story to make fun of Segun. I totally understand how counter intuitive our advice must have seemed. In order to be safer he needed to move out to where he could no longer touch the bottom? How did this make sense? Eventually with a lot of cajoling Segun made his way out to where the rest of us were. One of the first things he noticed was how much less intense the waves were. I jokingly said that there was a spiritual lesson in this whole story.
Although I originally made the parallel as a joke the more I thought about it the more true it seemed. Especially for my own life. Sometimes it can seem like every fifteen seconds I get pulled down by another situation; wondering about my job, wondering about my personal relationships, wondering about my physical health, wondering, wondering, wondering. The longer the wondering goes on the more exhausted I get until I feel like I’m drowning in what appears to be 2 inches of water. And out a little bit in front of me I hear the Holy Spirit calling me, imploring me, urging me. “Come on you can do it! You need to come out further! I promise it’s safer out here.” Just like in real life this thought process can seem so counter intuitive. How can it be safer out where my feet can’t touch? How can it be safer out where I can’t see the bottom? I can see the sand and my feet where I am. Sure I’m falling head over heels ever 15 seconds but I at least I can see where I’m falling.
But it is safer out where I can’t see both physically and spiritually. As Segun discovered when you make it out past the breaking point the waves become gentle not harsh. You float along and feel a light current pull you up and over each new wave as it comes. It’s my favorite part of going to the shore and the feeling is something I take home with me. All night after being in the ocean I can feel that slight up and down rocking motion that floating over the waves gives me. It’s beautiful and relaxing. And every time I’ve gone out “past the breaking point” spiritually the same thing happens. Each decision and thought that comes by I am lifted up and over them gently by the words of Jesus and the Holy Spirit:
“Don’t be afraid
“I’m with you”
“You will be okay no matter what happens”
“My grace is sufficient”
“My power is made perfect in your weakness.”
It’s all about trust. Letting go and letting some else be in control is not easy for me. It’s something I’m constantly working on. But I guess now when I think about that part of my life I’m going to try to remember the lesson my favorite place taught me. It’s scary going out past the breaking point. But when I let go of the fear and step outside of my comfort zone not only is it not scary, but I have a pretty great friend waiting for me out there.