I am officially a beach bum.
Really. Last week I did very little besides lay on the beach, read, and listen to the waves crash. Except for when the boy-child and the girl-child convinced me to go into the ice-c-c-cold water of the Atlantic with them, to jump waves.
Part of me wanted to say no when my two teenagers asked me to join them in the water. I was comfy and cozy and sleepy-warm, with my book and my beach towel . . . but then I remembered. They’re teenagers. How often do teenagers even want to be seen in public with their mom, much less play in the water with her?
So I said yes. We sloshed into the waves while I sent up silent prayers that God would please send the sharks on a Caribbean cruise for the time being. Once the teenagers had me far enough out that I couldn’t escape, they revealed their ulterior motive. They wanted to play a trust game, and they needed a third person.
A trust game? With a 13 and an 18-year-old?
The game was called “Jump!” Two of us had to stand, facing the beach, backs to the waves while the other faced the ocean. The ocean-facer watched the approaching waves and called “Jump” at the appropriate time. No looking behind us. And if we failed to jump, we might drown.
Or maybe just get hammered by a wave.
Woman-child went first. She wore sunglasses, and I tried to watch for waves in the lens reflections. But by the time the swells were big enough to see, it was too late. All-in-all, woman-child did a pretty good job of telling us when to jump.
Then went the boy-child. I think he really wanted to see his sister go under. But fear of killing his mother kept him honest.
At some point, though, an argument broke out between those two about . . . I don’t even know. Whose turn it was? Somebody broke the rules? Cheated?
My point is, while I waited patiently for somebody to tell me to jump, I got whacked by a wave. And when I say whacked, I mean, seriously whacked.
One moment I was standing there, listening to their disagreement and smiling because I didn’t feel any need or responsibility to intervene. Next thing I know, my neck whips forward, I feel this pop in my back, and I’m choking back saltwater and clams. My feet kicked out from beneath me, and I went under.
Not my favorite beach memory.
I came up sputtering, and the children, possibly out of fear of being orphaned and not being able to find their way back to Texas, came to my rescue.
“Mom, are you okay?”
“I’m so sorry, Mom!”
My hot-pink hat floated three waves away. Woman-child swam after it while boy-child steadied me like I was some 90-year-old nursing home candidate. And I let him.
Soon my hat was retrieved, but my head pounded. My neck was killing me. “I think I need to go in for a while,” I told them.
Back on the beach, my head throbbed, and I rubbed my shoulders. But I noticed something. I had more mobility in my neck than I’ve had in years! (I failed to mention I have some chiropractic issues . . .)
After a while, the headache went away, but I kid you not. My neck feels better than it has in ages.
And of course, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that so many things in life are like that wave. We get whacked, and life knocks us under. We wonder why in the world God would allow such a horrible thing to happen, and what we ever did to deserve it. But if we give it a little time, we often realize the very thing we thought would destroy us actually makes us better. Stronger. More mobile.
Sometimes, the thing we think will drown us actually helps us stand taller . . . helps us walk on water. It was a good reminder.
But just between you and me, remind me never to play a trust game with teenagers again . . .
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose,” Romans 8:28.
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