A couple weeks ago, my husband and I got to go paddle boarding on Anna Maria Island in Florida, near Tampa. We’d done it before so decided against lessons this time around. We rented two boards for an hour and jumped in the water. The owner mentioned some great mangrove tunnels around the corner that we could explore. I love getting out on the water and laying down on my board to enjoy the sun. But I knew Aaron would prefer to explore so off we went.
The wind was whipping up the waves a bit and I remember asking the owner as we got the boards out, “It’s not too windy today to be out there?” “No, it should be okay,” I heard.
We started to paddle around the corner and we quickly realized the wind was no joke. We paddled hard but didn’t make much progress. The wind pushed me farther and farther out into the main water way. I had no desire to get mixed up with the big fishing boats and yachts. I felt tears and frustration rising inside me. I looked over at my husband and he seemed to be doing just fine, paddling closer to the coast. That made me even more frustrated. “Why is this so easy for him?! Why am I so weak? This shouldn’t be that hard!”
I turned my face back the other way as warm, wet tears streamed down my cheeks. The cold wind whipped around me, as if to taunt my tear-streaked face.
I took a deep breath and paddled as hard as I could. Ten minutes later, I was closer to the calmer water by the coast. We decided to head across a small inlet to another set of islands. The water looked fairly calm so I proceeded with tentative anticipation.
All the sudden, the wind kicked in from a different direction and started to push me back into the main water way. I look over at my husband and again, he seemed to be doing fine. Anger washed over me as I paddled and cried and paddled and cried myself all the way across this little inlet. I eventually caught up with Aaron in calmer waters. He waited quietly as I wiped the tears from my face. I asked, “Why was that so easy for you?” He answered, “It wasn’t! That was really hard. You did a great job. I was worried you were getting too far out there too.”
I pouted and complained a couple more times, then decided to be quiet. Two thoughts quickly came to mind in the quiet.
That’s life. Sometimes we get swept away with the difficulty of it all. It’s not fair. We’re so angry that we have to deal with this situation. But we do, and we will. What matters is our character and perspective in the midst of it all. Yeah, the paddling was really hard. But I made it worse by getting so angry.
I could also make a connection between letting go and letting the Holy Spirit carry us, but in this case, the waves would have carried me right into the path of a large boat. So it doesn’t really work here. 🙂
My next thought was, “God, where’s the grace in this? Turn this thing around.”
I apologized to Aaron for ruining our paddle boarding adventure. He was so gracious and kind. He just wanted me to have a good time. Aaron didn’t care where we went, as long as we were together.
We quietly paddle boarded around this one small spot of calm water we found, took some pictures and prepared to head back to land. Then all the sudden, Aaron pointed animatedly behind me. Dolphins! Three dolphins were going after some fish about 20 yards from us!
It was great to sit on our boards and watch the dolphins swim and enjoy the water.
Did God order up some dolphin fun just because I asked? No. But I let go of my anger and tried to open up to the beauty around me. And I got to see what was already there.
This life of faith is about developing new eyes for the world around us. May our journey to the cross and the empty tomb remind us there’s always more to see.