My mind struggles to place this feeling—this breathlessness, the sensation of reaching for something secure. I lie in bed trying to quiet my thoughts, forcing my chest to rise and fall in regular, timed breaths. I think over all there is to do and all I have left undone today. I fret over all the plans that feel over my head. I imagine water rising around me. A memory plays at the edges of my consciousness and I suddenly know when I felt this way, just a few weeks before.
My brave little girl had made the move from tentative wave jumper to full-blown ocean lover this summer. We vacation yearly at the same beloved beach and we loved being back, days spent covered in salt and sand.
She would beg me to take her, boogie-board in tow, far out to where the waves were breaking. Their white peaks would tease us, our hearts racing as they neared. Most often they would dissipate before getting to us. But once in a while, the foamy rushing water would tower over our heads and carry us in, sometimes under.
The water was up to her shoulders but not too high for me. I wanted to see the great waves the way she saw them, so when she was occupied with friends I broke away to venture farther out into the chilly, murky Atlantic. I swam until my feet dangled and my head bobbed up and down with each move of the water. I couldn’t see another person near. There was only water and sky in every direction. Completely at the mercy of the sea, completely caught up in it.
For a moment I marveled at the beauty of it. There is nothing I love more than the tranquil sound of waves lapping against the shore, the vastness of it all. I felt my smallness so keenly in that moment, knew my place in the world. A tiny spec in the seemingly endless ocean—I marveled at the Creator of all this.
How could He care for this one tiny life in the world where so much mattered more? This is what I wanted, to know my place and feel the weight of His care for me despite my smallness.
But then, feeling the utter lack of control I had as the undertow began to tug at me, I felt the panic rising up in my chest. As much as I love the ocean, I fear it equally. I’ve never been a strong swimmer. Not another soul in sight and the shore growing farther away, I fought my breath coming in gasps. The same sea that evokes such peaceful imagery can become a beast without warning. That vastness could so easily swallow me whole.
I closed my eyes and swarm hard until my feet could find the soft sand squishing between my toes, the comforting feeling of control returning.
Lying in my bed, my little wave jumper’s head curled up under my chin, I remember the feeling of the sea all around me. I remember the panic, but also the awe. All my worries and attempts at control from the day melt away. I unclench my fists and try to let all my fears tumble from my hands.
You can’t immerse yourself in the beauty without also taking on the danger. The freedom of floating on the waves requires a complete trust, requires letting go. You can’t feel the waves surging under you without giving up control, knowing that the tide could turn at any time. There is no adventure without risk. There is no wonder or sense of awe without being a tiny speck in a great big sea.
My life is spent in the churning waves these days. Our family is riding the tide of the completely unknown as we prepare for a dream we believe in so strongly – a big, international move on the horizon. We make plans and move forward a little each day but nothing is really known. We are carried along, totally at the mercy of all the little details that have to fall into place to make this move happen. We are completely dependant on God to make this a reality, so much of it is out of our control. Our legs are dangling under us and we are along for the ride.
It is exhilarating. It is terrifying.
Sometimes I feel like I am living an adventure, conquering my fears and feeling the rushing tide under my feet.
A lot of days though, I feel like I’m going under. I try to grasp at control, which slips through my hands like water rushing between my fingers. I am reminded again that there is One who carries me, that only He can.
This leap of faith is a daily reminder that control is an illusion and that only the One who made the tides knows where we are headed or how we will get there.
I close my eyes and take a deep breath, listening for the crashing of the waves as I drift off to sleep.
I whisper “I trust You, Lord” again and again as I close my eyes and jump in.