I know, I am little behind schedule. Usually by December, I have already thought of a word, a concept to strive for in the next year. In the past, I have chosen authentic (transparent faith), present (being fully here), manhood (authentic manliness) among others. This year’s concept was strange, difficult, different but not out of reach: journey.
At the beginning of last year, I climbed into a boat and fell asleep under relentless sunlight and a gentle sea breeze with its wisps of saltiness. As the waves rocked back and forth (and in hindsight away from the shore), I allowed myself to drift into a false sense of security. The façade of a promising horizon was overwhelmingly convincing.
Come Spring Time, a few rocky waves woke me up. I noticed how far I had drifted out but my trusty boat was still in tact. I should know because I built it by myself mostly without God’s help. Well, I used his materials, but I was the creative genius behind it all. Besides, the shoreline was still on the horizon, what danger could I really be in? And is this how people enjoy their time out at sea? Donning a newer and impressive cavalier attitude, I convinced myself that the rocky waves were nothing more than the gentle sways of last winter’s ebb and flow; nothing more than something to fall asleep to again.
I don’t know how to fully explain the sense of panic. It was that feeling you get when you ate too much spicy food and wake up in the middle of the night not being able to breathe because you were asphyxiating on your own reflux. Summer knocked me out of my boat. I looked around to access my situation and discovered that what I thought was the sea was actually toxic sludge. My safe and secure boat had dissolved to nothing. How did that happen? I built it myself! So, I did what any normal person would do in my situation: I panicked. I thrashed, I yelled, I lost my mind. And wouldn’t I couldn’t lift my arms to take another stroke, when my lungs finally gave out, I succumbed to fears of drowning, felt the sting of the acid all around me and gave into the hopeless fray.
I lay there. In silence.
How did this happen? I calmed down and sent out an SOS.
My SOS was met by the gentle whisper of Father God, telling me that the situation I was in was also a façade. I didn’t believe him. What does He know about boats or the sea? He would have just walked on the water anyways. I’m not Him. I can’ do that. This was reality. A hopelessly abyss of toxic salinity. I thrashed more. I drowned more. I gasped for air. I eventually grew tired and fell back asleep.
Except, I didn’t sink. I was being held up, with my head just above water. By not thrashing, I was able to breathe. How was this possible? I leaned back and floated on the surface of the water. Not caring about the stormy weather, the stench of sludge, or my despair. I knew I was going to survive and had to figure out how.
It was then I noticed the lettering on my life vest. I don’t remember putting on a vest, but there it was and with bold lettering: GRACE.
This year is a journey back to shore. I will rely on grace to rebuild my identity in Christ, overcome the setbacks of my divorce, and use my singleness as an opportunity to grow deeper in my relationship with the Father.