The world looked different from this vantage point. It felt different, too- changing, shifting, and unsubstantial. I’d never stood directly on top of the water before, but that’s exactly what I was doing- slowly floating across Lake Erie on a paddleboard.
Clinging by my toes, doing my dead level best not to fall in.
They say there are lampreys in the lake, after all.
Paddle boarding looks deceptively easy. But as someone who doesn’t have great balance, it’s not as easy as it looks. Before attempting it for the first time, I watched videos on youtube to try and get the idea. Watching strong, fit people easily pop up on their boards made me feel ready to try it myself.
If the skinny girl in a bikini could do it, how hard could it be?
Watching and doing are two different things, however, and I was disappointed to find that I didn’t just pop up in a casual and athletic manner. I got up, sort of, but it looked more like a crazy Quasimodo crouch for a while. And then I fell in. And fell in again.
It wasn’t really my fault. The lake was too…ripply.
I did get better, finally, and have gone paddle boarding multiple times now. It’s become one of my favorite summer activities. I got to the point where I could relax and reflect while on the board. It became a great place to think.
One day when I was out there it hit me that there were a lot of great lessons that could be learned from paddle boarding. In honor or the end of summer, I invite you onto the paddleboard with me.
Paddle boarding and the single life
I don’t think it’s a stretch to compare the single life to being on a paddle board. When you’re single, life can feel precarious, slippery, and uncertain. You’re out there alone, with only yourself to count on. If you look around too much you’ll probably slip and fall. And there may not be lampreys circling around you, but it can certainly feel that way at times.
When you paddleboard you do better if you keep your eyes on the horizon- look up and keep your eyes on what’s ahead of you. That’s what helps maintain balance. If you start to look down at your feet or focus on the waves, you’ll fall in.
If you start to look around you in fear, you’ll fall every time.
It reminds me of the story of Peter when he wanted to walk on the water out to Jesus.
He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:29-31)
Peter felt confident enough to come out to Jesus. And as long as Peter kept his eyes on Him he did fine. He was able to miraculously walk on the water. But when he started to look around him and let fear cloud his thinking, he started to sink.
He fell when he began to rely on his own strength.
He fell when he started to give in to fear.
Just before Peter stepped out of the boat Jesus was already reassuring the disciples, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
Peter didn’t have to be afraid. He just needed to keep his eyes on Jesus.
I have the same choice in life: I can look down at the waves around me, lose my focus, become afraid, and fall. Or I can look ahead and keep my eyes on God.
Being single is scary at times. Stepping out and doing life alone can be tough. There are nights when I lie awake and worry. And worry. And worry.
If I let it, fear takes over and becomes all consuming.
It will make me fall every time. If I’m not careful, I’m swimming in dark, dirty water waiting for the lampreys to come bite me.
Figuratively speaking, of course.
There are times when I feel like I’m drowning. I’ve fallen in and the water’s threatening to close over my head. I have to stop, breathe, and make a different choice. One that’s far, far better.
I can take Jesus at His word- “Take heart. It is I. Do not be afraid.” In the moments when I find myself in the water, I have to pull my eyes off the winds and waves and fix them straight ahead.
I can get back on the board and try again.
That’s really all we can do. We may not be able to control our circumstances, but we can trust God to bring us through them. If we keep our eyes on Him, He will lift our heads up.
In those times when singleness feels hard, take your eyes off yourself and put them on the One who orchestrates your life. Keep your head up.
This week I’m thankful for the blessing of summer adventures that can point us to God. Together, let’s celebrate every SINGLE blessing!