Be Afraid

After my last few days, a friend of mine asked if I wanted to go kayaking. Kayaking? You bet! And within an hour, I was rushing to her house for our adventure.

Kayaking is something I’ve always wanted to do but have never done. Sure I’ve paddle boated, canoed, and swam in lakes before so kayaking didn’t seem all that difficult. You just get in a boat and paddle, right? Plus I loved swimming so if I did happen to fall over, I could handle it.

I put on my life jacket and carried the kayak down the hill to the docking area. The hill was pretty steep and the kayak was awkward but I got it in the water, got in, and shoved myself out into the lake. But I immediately noticed 2 things: 1) staying centered and balanced on the kayak was harder than it looked and 2) I had no idea what I was doing.

My friend was rather skilled at this whole thing. On the other hand, I was getting water in my kayak from my paddles, my shorts were all wet, and I couldn’t keep up with her. I got tired easily too. But I was having fun and getting out of my house was what I really needed. The lake was beautiful so I decided not to complain or be annoyed at my lack of skill.

At some point, I realized this kayak business was kind of tricky. Mostly because the lake had boats and the waves had a mind of their own. When a wave would come my way, I’d stop paddling and sit still. If I moved at all, I noticed my kayak start to tip.

My friend suggested we stay closer to the shoreline so the boats didn’t hit us. So we were traveling back after venturing to the end of the lake, about 45 minutes one way. Two jet skis passed back and forth. I was trying to avoid hitting my friend and tipping her over when it happened.

I fell out of my kayak.

At first it was funny. But then I realized that I needed to get back in my kayak but it was filling up with water. I mustered all my upper body strength and tried to swim with it. If I didn’t have a life jacket, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been able to swim with the waterlogged kayak. I tried heading towards the shore but the water was deep. I tried not to think about the green stuff floating around or the green algae and what was possibly living in there.

My friend took my paddle so I had one less thing to worry about and made it to shore. I kept going. I finally was able to feel the ground, which felt like a mushy poopy diaper. Oh and my shoes were in the kayak floating around. I was trying not to lose those too.

I did panic a bit because I felt like I might drown. Not feeling the bottom of the lake was pretty scary. I also had to hold on to a very heavy kayak and so that felt like it was pulling me down too. And the entire time, the two jetski people didn’t stop to help or just stop making waves so I felt anxious and scared. When I got to the shore, I dropped down on the sand. I was so shaky.

I settled down and my friend told me I was a good sport. She couldn’t tell I was anxious at all. I was joking about it mostly to ease my anxiety so maybe that’s why.

I managed to get back in the kayak after dumping the water out and spent another half hour trying to paddle cautiously back to where we came. The waves from boats still hit my kayak, but I tried to be as balanced as I could.

We got out and loaded the kayaks back in the van and headed home. I was joking around about mushy algae, fish eating my toes, and lake amoeba. My friend was nearly crying from laughing so hard. She kept apologizing and I would make another funny comment and we’d laugh even harder.

The thing is I would do it again. Sure it’s scary to flip over in deep water, but sometimes a little adrenaline is a good thing.

Lately I have been telling my husband how when you are our age, there is a lull. You find your routine. All the exciting life milestones like marriage and kids come and go. Then you feel either bored with life or stressed out by it. It isn’t often you feel the blood pumping, nature in your face, and laughing until you cry. Mostly, you set into your normal and become apathetic and indifferent. Every day feels the same after awhile.

At least it has for me.

So falling out of a kayak and being faced with fear was a good thing. For once, I felt alive to the world. And knowing that people worried about me and kept saying “I’m glad you are OK!” made me feel like I wasn’t just existing.

Sometimes it’s good to do things that scare you. It might just save your life.

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Peace in chaos

I can’t stand political posts, people blabbing about environmentalism, or throwing around conspiracy theories. It just all makes me want to shut down my computer and never turn it back on. I’m not sure why.

It could be it gives me anxiety. Complaining about the state of our world and thinking about how we are all killing our planet or how the politicians in office are really evil victimizers just makes me want to hide away.

Some of it this idea that a tornado is heading our way and we all run around in a panic trying to hurl words into a storm. We get this lofty idea that we are bigger than we are. We think we can save our planet by planting trees or not eating meat or whatever other theory we are force fed to believe. Or we get angry and call Trump names or belittle the people in charge. Most of it seems deserved. But I wonder what’s the point? Do we really have the capability to save the world?

There’s a big assumption that comes into play. It’s the assumption that God isn’t in control and that we need to run around and do all these things to protect our planet or make the world better. Sure we should definitely care and try to bring justice to the oppressed or shine a light on evil or, if you feel so led, plant a tree (the environmental stuff just makes me roll my eyes)…but let’s not forget that we are merely humans. How many times did Christ say not to fear?

I’m not saying to be apathetic. But what I see happening is outright panic and fanatical thinking. Do this and stop doing that and the world will be better. Be vegan. Grow your own food. Buy guns. Or the opposite–trust everything the government tells you. Rely on them for health insurance. Let them take away your guns. See how the pendulum swings from one crazy idea to another? The answers are always a result of fear mongering.

Sometimes I shut off Twitter, walk away from facebook, and unsubscribe from blogs. Its too easy to lose my sense of serenity.

I remember being a kid and my mom would tell me to memorize a verse on Philippians 4:8 and I would get so mad that she made me do it. But the verse has stayed with me in these times when it’s much too easy to be sucked into the fear and anxiety of our world today.

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

God is still the Creator of the Universe and in control of every aspect of his creation. People sin, fail, and abuse but we are not to fear, but trust even when all looks bleak. And most importantly, we are to remember the promise that God makes all things new and uses these things for good. In this, we can live in peace even when all seems to be chaos.