Day 25 of 31 Lessons from an Epic Beginner
This is my favorite part of the series--five days of epic success stories! Before you think I'm going to brag on things I'm great at, the truth is I believe in receiving lots of God's grace in our journeys. And that means finding success--and gratitude and contentment and joy--in all the little things. Because success is what you make it.
Pacific Ocean surrounds us on the shores of Lahaina Beach in Maui. Sun glistens off the active water, waves splashing on shore, freedom permeating the fresh breeze and calm atmosphere. Natural instinct cries for me to lie lethargic like a beached jellyfish. However, fiery sand burns under my feet motivating me, with my friend Jessica, to approach this water adventure--surfing.
Uneasiness overwhelms me as I awkwardly clutch an over-sized board against my small figure. Fear of the unknown seeks to control me. I look over to Jessica for reassurance.
"Are you ready for this?" I'm hoping she isn't.
Pride seems to force out her response: "Of course."
Uncertainty of what to do first, or what to do at all, is our fault, as lessons hover only $50 away. The tide creeps toward my hesitant feet as if reaching for me. Surfers already mastering the sport clutter the water, waiting their turn on a wave. I shuffle forward, with the water pulling at my calves.
A leash binds my ankle to the rented board. Gulping back fear, I trot steadily through each passing wave. When I'm in deep enough, I slide onto my board. A sudden burning stings my stomach, revealing why surfers wear rash guards. The quick-dry surface of the board--protecting feet from slipping--leaves my stomach in rug-burn pain. The waves continue crashing and I brace myself for additional agony and humiliation as I realize how little I really know.
A quick pep talk to myself: Suck it up, princess, it's coming your way! I hold my breath, bracing for the capping wall charging toward me.
Body pressed firmly to board, I decide to copy everything I've observed from surfers in movies. Unfortunately, I have yet to see a surfer in action on screen, so I have no choice but to follow what instincts I can gather from my surroundings.
Refreshing water chills my body as I take the wall head-on. My head breaks through the wave first, water streaming down my face and impeding my gasps for air on the other side. My arms simultaneously fling ahead and pull back, pushing the board and myself forward. I am sure I look like a floundering beginner to onlookers.
I don't care--this is beginning to feel right!
I sit upright in the salty air, a hint of sweet blossoms and fish wafting my direction. A series of waves already line behind me. As if programmed by nature, my legs begin to circulate in egg-beater accuracy, twisting me around in wave-flowing direction. Body pressed against board once more, my arms work even harder, if not to beat the wave, then hopefully to ride atop it. As the force overtakes me, I follow instinct once more, first to squatting, then to standing position. The motion of the capping blue plunges me forward.
I made it! I'm up!
A good five feet and four inches separate the top of my head from the ocean below. In that brief moment I imagine children looking on hoping--dreaming--one day they could surf with the gracefulness I demonstrate. The lack of children yelling their praises does not suppress the passing breeze yelling "Victory!" in my ears.
That is, until the unknown returns.
I don't know what to do next! Do I ride this thing to shore? Do I bail before then? I've completely lost track of Jessica by now.
The indecision brings me hurtling toward the ocean. My body slams the water's surface, smashing vulnerable legs into the ocean floor, sharp rugged coral catching and gouging the edge of my foot.
All aspects of salt consume me, stinging my eyes, lingering graininess irritating my contacts. It settles in the back of my throat with a heavy, scratching sensation. The irritation surges my nostrils, overwhelming my head. Salt-soaked water washing through the fresh gouge on my foot, urging me hobbling faster toward shore.
I stumble to the warm safety of my stretched-out beach towel. Waves and wind show its effects on my unruly hair. The surfboard recklessly dragging behind me left my exposed stomach in red splotches. My extended foot renews with pain as I collapse on the grand, sand quickly drying to my moist skin.
Anyone looking on may have thought this to be just another miserable tourist surfing experience. Any other day on any other beach, I might have been that same onlooker. Instead, on this day, a goofy smile spreads across my face and I know I was that person... The spirit of adventure transformed miserable failure into radiant victory--I surfed!
I've learned that God asks me to go on similar adventures in life. He doesn't require me to be a professional surfer to enter His Kingdom, nor does He allow me to stay on the shore surrendering to my fears. No, He's asked me, and you too, to get out in the waves.
Ride 'em, fall off, try again. Sometimes plummeting under water, but always coming up in time for a gasp of air. No one knows better than Him the spirit of the Kingdom and how to transform our miserable failures into radiant, stand-up victory.
Answer in the comments:
Share something you've tried, that wasn't necessarily done great, but you're proud to have done it at all.
Day 25 of 31 Lessons from an Epic Beginner