Beyond the danger zone
Beyond the danger zone

Beyond the danger zone

Sometimes I don’t understand just how powerful elements surrounding us can be.

Like water.

My family and I (minus the brother, who is on a trip in Italy–I know, rough life) are on a little beach vacation. We drove–I repeat, drove–a solid 12 hours yesterday and then had our first day out on the sand today. The Merrills love partaking in a bit of wave diving, and it wasn’t long until we were all four out in the water. I, however, had told my mom I was not going any farther than knee-deep water, because the water felt way too cold today, and I didn’t mind playing the wimp card. Warmth first.

My sister and dad were already out in the waves, and my mom and I decided to go in, as well. I had borrowed her hat, and she said something about not getting it wet, but I reminded her about my self-imposed knee-deep rule. There was absolutely no need for concern.

Never underestimate the tides, my friend.

The whole knee-deep concept suddenly got washed away when I realized just how powerful the waves and undertow were Sunday afternoon. My dad discovered a method of riding the waves to the shore with no problem, while my sister was getting slammed around but still trying to battle the powerful current. I watched as my mom got hit hard and struggled to stand, because she wasn’t past some invisible magic spot yet where things weren’t as difficult–or as painful. You see, when the waves start crashing and pummeling toward the shore, they have so much force built up in them that they take you down without the blink of an eye. Once you get far enough out, however, it’s much easier to dive into them and evade the horrible incident of the water introducing you to the ground in one fast and powerful blow.

And I got caught in the danger zone.

“It’s just a hat.”

The pull of the undertow was so strong that it didn’t take very long for my knee-deep desire to be tossed among the waves, and I was pulled to the depth that possessed potential for one thing: disaster. Before I knew what was happening, I was picked up by a wave and taken to the sand beneath the water. I stood up, trying to catch my breath, but another wave punched me in the face, and I went down again. When I stood back up, my hair was all over the place, and I suddenly noticed the cold feeling on the top of my head–the hat was gone. I frantically started looking around and then said to my mom, who was pretty close to me after she came to try to help me, “I lost your hat, I lost your hat, I lost your hat!” I felt so awful for multiple reasons: not only had I gotten her hat wet (like she asked me not to do), but I had let it be taken away by the waves and lost out to sea forever.

I started trying to swim out farther into the water to find it, but she kept telling me not to worry about it–it was just a hat. But, still, even my dad started searching for it, and I’m sure she really liked the hat. But my mom, being the sweet woman she is, acted like it was no big deal and started acting more concerned with whether or not I was OK after being beaten up by the waves.

There are certainly times in life where we get caught up in what seems like a tide that we can’t battle, because it keeps pulling us and pushing us in all different directions. We constantly feel like we’re being pushed to the ground, only to get knocked right back down when we try to stand up. And, every once in a while, through these trials we lose things. We get stuck in that danger zone–the one where we feel powerless and know that we have to escape if we’re ever going to be strong enough and bold enough to take on the waves trying to wreck us.

I’m really thankful for my mom, who doesn’t care about possessions enough to act even a little bit sad about the loss of her hat. I’m also grateful to know that there’s hope beyond what we often think is the worst of things. Sure, we’re going to be pulled farther out than we want at times when we don’t want to, but that doesn’t mean we can’t battle the troubles before us, even if they are coming at us in full force. Because there is Someone who can calm the sea with just the sound of His voice. When I decided to make my way to our beach chairs, I was a bit nervous, because each time I tried to go back to the shore, a new wave came and took me down before I could even try riding it in. I didn’t think I was ridiculous when I started praying I could get back safely, and I suddenly found myself taking off in a dead sprint when I noticed a brief calming of the waves–one that gave me the exact amount of time I needed to get to my destination.

It’s funny how things work out.

It’s better not to stress out so much about the big waves coming your way. The less anxiety I felt with each one, the less trouble I had diving straight into it. And sometimes you will lose things, like hats, but even those things are fleeting and don’t matter at the end of the day. What matters is that you are living life boldly and surrounding yourself with people who love you enough to remind you what genuine love does.

And to the sea creature with a new Titleist cap, you’re welcome.

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