I grew up on Long Island not far from the Atlantic Ocean. Some of my best childhood memories are from days spent on the beach in the summer sun. Boar’s Head turkey and muenster on a kaiser roll with a sprinkling of sand, the smell of suntan oil (note to my younger self: opt for some SPF), and the sounds of crashing waves, squawking gulls and loud teenagers. The soundtrack of my youth. We could spend hours in the waves. Waiting for the rise and fall of the wave to carry us, the feelings of weightlessness in that salty water. But on occasion, I would mistime the wave and find myself caught under the powerful swell. Suddenly, I would lose footing, the wave knocking me over, turning me under the surface. The force of the wave throwing me to the shore, scraping my suntanned skin against the broken shells, causing me to lose my breath. And just as I found my legs, stood upright in the knee deep water and adjusted my suit, another wave would crash. Once again, I found myself underwater, disoriented and scraping against the shore.
During the last month, my life has felt like those crashing waves. Just as we adjust to a new travel schedule for my husband, my mother falls ill. Suddenly, I’m underwater, disoriented in the surf. Slowly I find my footing. Stand. “I’ve got this”. Then the emails from a teacher about a child who is struggling in school. Blindsided by another wave. Tumbling against the sand but instead of my skin scraped, it feels like my heart. How do we best support this one? What can we do to encourage their love of school? Are they not getting enough attention? Why did we think we could raise four children?
Sleep has suffered, routine is disrupted, bills have gone unpaid, the laundry has grown to a mountain. Feelings are hurt, tempers are short, hearts are heavy. Small rolling waves with a powerful cumulative effect.
But today I choose to ride the waves instead of falling under them. I grab my life vest to help me to the surface when I lose my breath. I wake before the sun rises, I push play on my workout and sweat. My muscles tire earlier but I’m grateful for a body that refuses to fail me. Just before the littles wake, I sit with the Father. I read His words and remember that He is stronger than the surf and more vital than my life vest. He will create solid ground for me to stand. The same power that allowed Christ to walk on water will give me strength to stand in the surf.
A golden rule of living near the beach was to never swim alone. I can vividly remember times when I felt trapped under the waves, salt water filling my mouth and nose, my body unable to right itself, I would feel a hand grab for mine. A dear friend there to pull me up. Help me to my feet. This season of my life is teaching me to reach for those hands unapologetically. Hold on to those who have their bearings while I gain mine. Allow them to act as my anchor against the crashing waves.