Paddling through life's eddies

Paddling Through the Eddies

Faith

“Let’s go kayaking tomorrow,” suggested my husband.

 I committed half-heartedly. The forecast for the next day was less than optimal with rain and cooler temperatures in the forecast. Time in nature is one of the ways I find rest for my soul, but I admit I am finicky about the weather conditions surrounding it.

The next morning, we woke to sunshine. The rain looked like it would hold off until evening so we headed north. As we approached the river I could see the rain coming over the horizon. “Let’s go kayaking even if it rains,” my husband said. “It will be fun.” 

I checked the weather on my phone – no rain in the hourly forecast until evening. I assumed my smartphone was wiser than me, and decided to ignore the voice of my third-grade teacher who taught my class to never ass-u-me.

The Adventure Begins

We set off down the river, my son and husband in one kayak, my daughter and I in the other. I was eager for some quiet time so we chose the three-hour tour. About a half hour into our paddling excursion it began to rain. It was light at first. It provided a soft spritz to my waves which kept them from frizzing in the breeze. I could handle this, I thought to myself. Unfortunately, the breeze turned into wind and the drizzle turned into a steady rain. 

“I don’t feel very close to God right now,” I remarked to my daughter through giggles of displeasure. For at that moment water found the path of least resistance. Somehow that meant sneaking inside my rain jacket, rolling down the hollow of my neck and glamorously pooling in my bra before efficiently absorbing into the bottom of my t-shirt. This provided an excellent cooling source that would be greatly appreciated if the temperature had not dropped 15 degrees.

We paddled on at a quicker pace. My daughter and I are not expert paddlers, but pride allowed us to play the part. However, that idea was soon challenged by the wind and the eddies. Our kayak repeatedly swirled around crashing us into tree branches that lined the shore. The very brief peace time we experienced slipped away. Despite this, we made it back to base in a record 2 ½ hours.

The rain begins

Things I Should Have Previously Known

Afterwards, someone asked me if I did in fact have fun that day. I still don’t know quite how to answer that. However, I did do some research and learned some valuable kayaking lessons. Through them I was reminded of some important life lessons as well.

First, a bit about eddies. An eddy is the calm side of the river where the water doesn’t move much, but they can cause a swirl where the current actually changes direction. If you sit in an eddy line, your boat can actually flip – something I should have known prior to paddling the river I suppose! To avoid this, a paddler must keep his or her eyes ahead on the river. Keep your boat pointed upstream as angling against the current causes instability. Finally, paddle faster than the current. Better yet, stay towards the center of the river if possible unless some other factors keep you from doing so. Remember, this is not a how-to kayak manual. I’m only a paddling legend in my own mind- well maybe now an ex-legend…

Life Lessons

I humbly admit, my daughter and I broke all of these rules. At times when we were caught in a swirl, we froze as we careened towards a downed branch. Other times, we overcorrected or were not pointed directly downstream. All of this reminded me of some valuable life lessons.

  • This is what my life is like when I take my eyes of Christ. If I point towards the problems and look for a quick correction instead of taking preemptive action, I often find myself in more of a mess. 
  • Freezing in fear delivers the same blinding result. Our problems often grow when we lose our focus and start to believe that our fears are bigger than our God. 
  • Often times the best point of action is to paddle directly through our problems, not trying to play it safe by sticking to the shoreline. We often look to get out of our problems in the quickest manner possible, but that can lead to further hazards and mistakes. Most often, we need to paddle throughthe pain not out of the pain – to get to the finish line. 

So, will I paddle the river again? Definitely. But let me check the weather forecast first.

Until next time,

~Barb

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