None of us can deny that we sin—that is that we miss the mark or that we stray from God.
Similarly, when surfing, if your face is unexpectedly full of salt-water because of a wipeout, you can’t really deny you messed up. (see walking by Surfing Part 1) However, when I am with the wrong company or am out on my own, nothing I do nor any instruction I heed works to get me upright. Still I try…
Taking the advice of a surfer, I pop up quicker, and still the waves thrash me. I make a checklist and swear to stick to it; after all, look at how many people around me had the same advice and are standing up. Before I know it though, I’m face down in the water more ticked off than ever.
Not wanting to admit how badly this is going, I vow that one more try will fix it—NOPE. I’d yell obscenities if I could guarantee no one could hear me and tell me, “bro, chill, this is the good life,” so the next time I’m submerged and tossed by a wave, I let loose my tongue. “What’s wrong with me! Why can’t I do this!!”
Upon surfacing, I resolve it is a good time to quit and paddle in. I proclaim decidedly that this is not my sport. If anyone asks me about surfing, I’ll give a half-hearted attempt at humor; otherwise, I avoid the truth to talk about how beautiful a day it was. At least, if I can’t be honest, admitting I’m sort of miserable, then I’ll focus on the positive and call it optimism.
Those events remind me of the cycle of sin. It feels like quitting the bad habits that I quit ten times before this. Other times, the flailing about in the white wash is a fitting metaphor for the “winds that hell can throw,” as Colony House puts it. Finally, sometimes, like in Weeks #2 & #3 the waves are my fleshly old ways of surviving. How easy it is for me to try and measure up to “the law,” which I always fall short of, producing in me an ache of “not enough”.
Processing feelings of not being enough
To me, if I’m living like the “older brother,” Success looks like a list crossed off:
- Learn to Surf
- Teach Marketing Class
- Clients for Side-Hustle/Web Design
- Other Duties
But three days into Week #3 that list is crushing me, and I find myself living and working as if I’m on my first few surf sessions. But in my quiet space with God I pray: “Lord, “I’m glad to work! Thank you for this opportunity. What a privilege that I get to work and experience so much! “Still, why do I feel a growing weariness? If I’m honest, God, I can’t help but wonder if I can keep this pace up! “Actually, speaking of, where even are you, Lord? I felt like an idiot, today. Who am I to complete this giant task? Why did I ever think I could do this! Look at how much better that guy is than me! “Maybe I should just say that this is all too much, that we need to slow down.”
Before I realize it, I’m talking to a god that doesn’t exist, one who’s disappointed when I screw up and needs me to succeed in order to represent him well. Forgetting the cross like the Galatians, my work and life on this mission turns into a standard or a law to be met.
“But, Louie, it’s only week X! So, your “quiet time” is growing more and more burdensome and nothing is happening. Look around! Listen to everyone calling out their successes, saying they found out how to be better by reading this book or doing these 5 things.
Do I Just push harder?
“So, why are people saying that I’m growing distracted and seem awfully busy. Should I stop pushing this boulder called “good Christian” around? My schedule is full of quiet times and meetings; still, I’m weary and burdened.”
Finally, after all the chaos, I admit to a trusted friend that all my surfing/Christian walk is tiring and that I’m pretty miserable. I need help, but I tell her, that in my prayer time, as I walk home to the Lord, I see a tired boy, who, though drenched and sunburnt, looks prideful and aloof.
Still a ways off, God bursts out the doors with pants rolled up, running at the little boy like a linebacker. He throws his arms around the dogged boy, elated to hold him. Moving out of the embrace, with His hands grasped on the boy’s shoulders, he thrust the boy out in front him, trying to see all of him, but now I yell!
“OW! My sunburn!” Now, infuriated, I demand an answer, asking, “Where the heck where you while I surfed and just got beat up and burnt!? I had to teach myself. You should’ve seen me. I was awful.”
He meets my aggression with a disarming smile, one that doesn’t mask an ache he’s feeling. It looks as though I’ve hurt him, but his smile communicates something peaceful. He says that he’s been waiting and resting and that he’s glad I made it home. He turns to walk away, beaconing me to follow him. “Why is he so happy to see me,” I wonder. “I mean, look at who he is, and look at who I am…I can’t even get past the white wash…”