This morning, I packed lunch and a quick beach bag, threw some beach chairs in the back of the Quest Love, and the kids and I headed to the beach. I have been counting the days since last summer ended before I could get back to the beach again, and I was beside myself with excitement. I love beach days!
Growing up on the beach, you’d think that was just ingrained in me, but that’s not really true. I wasn’t a huge beach fan when I was younger. I loved being out on the water, but I wasn’t into the sand. And the sun. And the hot. But in the past few years, since my kids have been old enough for me to tote to the beach on my own, I have grown to love the beach more than just about any other place.
I think my love of the beach is very similar to my general outlook on life and faith, too. When I was younger – early 20’s maybe – I was all about the neat and orderly. I wanted supreme control of my surroundings, and when things didn’t go my way, it was the end of the world. Sand in my bathing suit would ruin my day and all I could think about as I sat out in the sun was how much I was going to regret this tomorrow when I was sunburned.
I’m settled into my 30’s now, and I am finding that your 30’s bring all kinds of prioritizing in your life. Sand in my bathing suit still bothers me, but it’s a small price to pay to watch my kids run around and play all afternoon. I still don’t like sunscreen all over me, but it’s just what you have to do in order to sit in the sun all day, soaking up the majesty of God’s earth.
(I told Gracie her bandana looked like the Pope’s hat and she said, “I don’t know who that is, but he has a cool hat!”)
We go to New Smyrna Beach most often, and it is known for two things – being able to drive your car on the beach and the high tide. The tide comes in quickly there and before you know it, the waves are breaking right over your beach chair and beach bags. In my 20’s, I would have been pissed. Everything was wet! Everything was sandy! It would have ruined my day. But these days, I’m more apt to roll my eyes and just hold my iced tea up over my head so it doesn’t get wet. Because the truth is, everything at the beach is waterproof. It’s made to get wet. And everything that’s wet will eventually dry. Nothing is ruined.
I’m waterproof, too, you know. So are you. Those big waves come crashing over us unexpectedly sometimes, soaking everything in a cold, wet mess that leaves a salty residue behind on everything. But, we dry. And life goes on.
I am prone to anxiety. I take a little bitty pill for it every day, actually. But more valuable than the medication is that over the years, I have learned how to see my anxiety coming. I know certain events that will trigger it, I can feel when it is about to kick into full speed, I can even predict times of year when it will hit me harder than normal. And because I know these things about myself now, because I can see the warning signs, I am much better at staving off the anxiety and I have managed to keep it largely at bay for the past two years.
Today as I sat by the beach, I thought about all the really big things happening in my life right now. This is normally a stressful time of year for me, as my students prepare for state testing. Add to that the small business Chris and I are in the middle of getting off the ground and the financial risk we are taking on right now. And top that off with the normal wears and tears of a family routing – PTA meetings, baseball practices, Gracie’s birthday party next weekend, gymnastics, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, and all the other nuances of our daily life that keep us busy and active. My anxious little heart should be curled up in a corner, rocking back and forth right now.
But it’s not.
In fact, I don’t think I can remember being this content and satisfied in my life. When I think of those stresses and unknowns laid out before me, I don’t even bow my head in quiet prayers of mercy. Instead, I throw my head back, open my arms wide, and shout to the heavens, “IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL!” And then I might even dance a little. You know I love a good dance…
Because the truth is that if everything in my life failed right now, I would pick myself up and move ahead because I am waterproof. When the waves crash over, I am rooted in faith while the sand shifts and drifts around my feet. And when the water receded, I would dry out and rinse the salt from my life in the pure, healing waters of faith. And life would go on, just as it is supposed to. Just as He has planned.