Learning From The Waves Of Life


God created the heavens and the earth, the oceans and the waves for our enjoyment. Surfing is just my way of worshipping Him.

Bethany Hamilton

I moved from Illinois to New Jersey when I was 8 years old.  I had never seen the ocean before we moved.  I remember my first trip to the beach with my Mom and my brother, David.  We visited some friends who were vacationing near the shore (this is what we call the beach in New Jersey).

I remember digging a deep hole in the sand.  I kept digging until I couldn’t get my arm any deeper.  In my memory, I recall actually reaching water at the bottom of my whole (although I’m not sure that is possible).

I also remember playing in the waves for the first time.  They scared me as they knocked me off-balance.  The force of the waves was too much for my little 8-year-old body to withstand.

As I grew older, I continued to take trips to the ocean.  Over time, I became more and more relaxed swimming in the powerful waters of the Atlantic Ocean, and I soon mastered body surfing.  I started by swimming out past the breakers.  There I waited for the perfect wave.  As the wave approached, I started swimming for the shore.  Just as the wave reached me, I took one or two more strokes and let the wave carry me to the shoreline.

The feeling of catching the perfect wave is exhilarating.

While I was in Ocean City, MD last weekend, I enjoyed time on the beach where I had the opportunity to do some body surfing.  The waves were especially strong this time.  Lifeguards had to pull a few small kids in who were caught in a rip current.  Nonetheless, I entered the waters with excitement as I anticipated riding the waves.

I caught a few magnificent waves at first.  I could tell the force of the waves was powerful as I struggled to keep swim back out beyond the breakers.

And then it happened.

I found myself face to face with the biggest wave I had seen all day.  My heart skipped as I began the process of lining myself up for the wave.  I was expecting a great ride.  I took my customary strokes as the wave caught up to me, and I was off and gliding towards the beach.  Suddenly, the wave collapsed on top of me, and I felt my head thrust hard into the sandy bottom of the ocean floor.  As I twisted and turned in the water, I thought I might have a concussion.  The wave then turned me around and rubbed by shoulder against the sand.  The feeling on my back felt like the pain of a good rug burn.

The wave pushed on, and I found me footing and the ocean floor.  I stood up grabbing my head.  My neck ached with pain as I tried to catch my breath.

After a few minutes, I gingerly headed back out beyond the breaker line.  I couldn’t end my body surfing experience without catching one or two more good waves.

After a few more waves and one last wave ride to the beach, I stepped out of the water and headed back to the beach chairs where our group was gathered.  The waves brought a smile to my face, and they also humbled me.

In life, we face ups and downs.  We face extreme joys one moment, and we face the jolting feeling when something unexpected gets in our way.  We can choose to bury our heads in the sand when we experience life’s pains, or we can walk back to our friends and family with our heads held high knowing we have been shaped by our experiences.

What waves are you experiencing in your life these days?  How are you finding joy?  And how are you being shaped by the pains of life?  Tell me about it in the comments.