Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Drowning in the Ocean

(Sorry for the mess-up; this post was actually written on Monday, June 6, 2011)

When I was a little girl,
we lived near the coast in New England;
we used to spend
many summer days at the beach.

I loved to swim in the ocean,
especially when the tide was high.
The waves would carry us along
high up into the air and then down into the wake of the next.

I was always afraid to touch the ocean floor with my feet,
fearing crabs would snatch my toes;
sometimes, though, we'd dare each other
so we could see how deep it was.

Gulping air,
we'd shuttle ourselves down
on the ebb of a wave
and sometimes my toes would sink in soft sand
while other times I'd feel the rounded edges of fist-sized rocks.

It was exhausting swimming in the ocean.
The rocking of the waves pushed us away along the coast line
and we had to constantly swim back to where we started,
or get out and walk the distance.

But the combination of the cold sea,
the sand,
the screeching gulls and sound of the surf,
it was enough to spur us on to the constant activity in the sea
unaware of how exhausting it all was.
The life we had in the sea was incredibly fun.
We'd only stop to gobble down half a sandy sandwich
under the beach umbrella where mom and our friends' mother
sat chatting and adding their laughter
to all the other umbrella's that dotted the bucket and shovel-laden

Our shivering bodies and chattering teeth
were quickly soothed on soft beach towels
baking in the hot sun.

Then we'd dart back into the foaming waters,
beginning the bobbing process all over again.

I can remember on an occassion
being out in the water
and suddenly feeling like I was too far out.
I became aware of how tired I had gotten,
and the splashing waves had gagged me once too many times
with it's salty attempts to quench my thirst.
My friends splashed at me, laughing,
not realizing I was struggling,
and then swam away.
Help seemed too far for reach.
I waved to those on the beach,
and they waved back,

It was at this point that I also remembered that
I was swimming alone
and perhaps a hungry shark would enjoy my 
panicked, tired thrashing about.

I've felt like this in my life lately.
I don't know if you could tell by my blogs,
but I've been out to sea.
I've struggled with being tired,
feeling overwhelmed with life,
the little things.

I feel as though I give and give to my children,
work around the house,
work outside,
clean and cook,
argue with my stressed and overwhelmed husband
who is beset by ripened hay fields,
steer ready to be butchered,
bulls that need to be castrated,
trees fallen in stormy gales,
and a slew of immediate needs.
Somedays, I never seem to get anywhere.
It's exhausting.

I've read my Bible
and begged for strength,
for encouragement to press on...
to see the shore again.

I go to church
with my meager offerings of what I am able to do right now.
I wrestle with myself,
wishing I could do more,
wanting not to be misunderstood,
making me weary
because my works that are seen by men,
I think to myself,
aren't good enough.

I leave feeling as though I've been splashed in the face
while I am drowning.

I watch my child deal with
and find myself using the scorn that she faces
to try to teach her what real kindness is,
trying to help her see
that God's love is different
and can't always be seen in Christians
because man is sinful.

I feel bothered by a situation amongst friends
that badger
and seems like mole-hills made into mountains.
I see hurt feelings all around
that make me angry:
misconstrued situations,
hidden frustrations.
Everyone wants their own rights
but nobody is sure who really has any rights at all.
It's incredibly hurtful.

Life has suddenly become hard.
But God is not unfaithful.

I went away this weekend to see my first nephew celebrate
his graduation from high school.
A lot of circumstances came up to prevent me from going,
but I was desperate to go,
to get away, 
to be a part of this special event.

During the ceremony,
Jordan's paternal grandfather spoke.
He gave to Jordan verses and tips from the Bible
and from life
to guide him in his next steps of life.

They fed my weary soul as well.
"We can choose the decisions that we make in life,
but we cannot chose the consequences."

"If God wanted Paul to minister in our world today,
or Billy Sunday, 
or Charles Spurgeon,
or Moody,
he would have them alive today.

But he doesn't.
He chose us to be alive today,
he chose us to be His light
and do His work
for this moment."

"God does not want us just to have the heart of a servant.
He wants us to have the mindset of a servant.
The mind has to chose to serve,
even when we feel like we've run out of the heart too,
even when we feel like we've hit the point
that says,
'Enough is enough;
I'm done.'
The servant's mind never sees a quitting point.
It serves even when 
the circumstances are against it's service."

When I was out in the ocean
feeling as if I was drowning,
I'd always hear my father's words to me
ringing in my head:

"When you feel tired out in the water,
calm down,
lean back and float.
Lying on your back
you can paddle toward where you need to go
without exhausting yourself,
while resting.
When you float and let the sea carry you
you can guide your body in the right direction
and use your strength to paddle the right way
rather than wrestle the water
that is sure to overwhelm you.
When you relax and enjoy the sky,
you will get the energy back that you need."

And I know he would give me the same advice
in my spiritual need as well.

Looking up brings rest.
I can paddle toward the things that I need to do
never losing a servant's mindset,
but realizing I can't always get it all done,
I can't fix everything,
I can't heal pain,
I can't please everyone.

Looking up redirects the focus off the shore 
off the people who don't mean to misunderstand
or to be misunderstood.
I just need to look up
where the help is
and keep paddling.

I am thankful for the God who gives His words of comfort
when the weary call out to Him in need.

 "I had fainted,
unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.

Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart:
I say,
on the LORD."
Psalm 27:13-14

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  1. Tonya that was beautiful & uplifting. Think back on what the Apostle Paul went through to spread the Gospel. He was a real example of a servant. He also knew for sure that God would keep him & give him the strength he needed to deal with people & circumstances. "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me"

  2. Wow! That was awesome. It's so true. I know I spend way too much time looking at the people on the shore...misunderstanding and being misunderstood. Great reminder!

    Stopping by from Titus 2sdays!

  3. that was very beautiful, heartfelt and uplifting. Praying for much more grace and peace to you today.

  4. I've been a christian for 50 years and can tell you there have been seasons that I have gone through what you just wrote about. I have had to paddle though and felt sometimes I had lost the oars. BUT God was there and I've always come out better than before.

  5. That was wonderful to read... especially because lately I have been missing how I used to feel free enough to just lay back in the ocean and float there, looking up... thanks for sharing this through Titus 2sdays Linkup!

  6. You are a wise woman, and I agree with everything you've written here. What's more, I've been there, as I suspect we all have at one time or another. Life has its fair share of struggles, doesn't it? And the ocean is a good analogy, because we still love to take the plunge, even though it wears us out now and then...

    I'm going to post three poems that I wrote at various times when I was feeling discouraged and "at sea" myself. As you know very well, being the mother of young children is not always easy, and we all have limited resources....but fortunately (as you said) the Lord has no limits at all.

    ©1999 by Susan Noyes Anderson, "Awaken Your Spiritual Power", Karisma Press

    The sun will rise each day, and night will fall.
    We here can only wait, and watch, and see.
    It is not ours to tamper with the flow
    Of nature, nor mistrust her majesty.
    ‘Twas other hands, not ours, whose heavenly light
    Kindled eternal splendor in the skies;
    Another whispers peace unto our minds
    When darkness looms before our faltering eyes.
    And listening, we somehow come to know
    That in the midst of darkness, even then,
    He sends the moon and stars to light our way,
    And promises the sun will rise again.

    “Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.” -Isaiah 60:20

    ©2003 Susan Noyes Anderson

    If ever earth and sky should spin away
    and love and truth lie crumbled at your feet,
    when all around and in you cries defeat
    and hope and faith seem merely words to say–-

    Say nothing; hear Him whisper to your soul:
    "My peace lies in acceptance, not control."

    "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding,
    Shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
    Philippians 4:7

    ©1999, Awaken Your Spiritual Power, Susan Noyes Anderson, Karisma Press

    A boat is life, a vessel in the gale
    Tossed by the wind and driven through the night;
    A hapless cutter, searching for the light
    That used to dance and shimmer on a sail
    Once bright and proud, bedraggled now, and pale.
    Life’s boat. The oarsman struggles with its plight,
    Unwitting victim of his self-made might,
    Each desperate thrusting doomed, at last, to fail.
    Humbled, the oarsman tries to understand
    The currents that assail him fore and aft;
    He struggles with the oars until, unmanned,
    He hurls them through the tempest like a shaft.
    Henceforth, the raging waters he’ll withstand
    By trusting in the Maker of his craft.

    (This one seems especially in keeping with what you've written and your analogy...And you've already figured out what it took me a rather lengthy and difficult trial to understand. By the way, how's THIS for a long comment?!)


  7. Beautiful. Comments too - thanks for sharing.
    Here from HHH.


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