When You Have to Leave the Shore

I have two major phobias:

Roaches and sharks.

Roaches – they are just creepy. They show up out of nowhere, scurry around at night, and well…they crunch when you kill them. Ew!

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And then sharks! They can show up out of nowhere too! (well, in the ocean that is), they seem to scurry around the sea, and while they don’t crunch when you kill them…they have the ability to crunch me!!!

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Now, avoiding roaches is practically impossible when you live in the south. So while I scream like a madwoman when I see one, and while I will suck one up in the vacuum long before I will squish it with my shoe, and while have been known to let my nine-year-old daughter carry dead ones to the trash so I don’t have to touch it….I have come to terms with the fact that I cannot avoid roaches.

However, sharks are a whole different story.

They are easy to avoid. No ocean….no sharks. Works for me.

However, my people love the ocean. My husband loves scuba diving, my son loves snorkeling, and my little girl loves riding waves on her boogie board. And so every summer I have to confront my phobia.

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Every summer I have to choose whether to stay on the shore, or risk life and limb by entering the water.

I want the shore. I love the shore. There are sand castles to be made, holes to be dug, sun to be soaked up.

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My ridiculously husband made this gorgeous sandcastle!

There are birds to watch, snacks to eat, and naps to take.

But inevitably a voice will call out, “Mommy, come in! Come play!”

Ugh!

I want to call back, “Mommy’s good right here! Mommy can see just fine! And while for some reason mommy doesn’t worry about you becoming shark bait, I fear that the second my toe enters the water Jaws will hone in on my scent and have me for a midday snack!!!”

But I don’t. Instead I plaster a fake smile on my face. And I force my legs to move toward the water. I let the waves lap at my feet. I take two steps into the vast unknown.

“Deeper Mommy! Come out deeper with us!”

Are my people crazy?!?! Don’t they know the dangers that lurk in four feet of water???

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OK, in fairness those fins belong to dolphins, not sharks (dolphins I love!)

 

My son dives down to claim a shell. He emerges victorious and motions me to come and see his plunder.

I take two more steps.

My daughter waits for just the right swell. She is off. She rides her wave all the way to shore and then bounds back into the deeper water. She beckons me to run with her.

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I take two more steps.

My husband stands as a lighthouse. His gaze takes in a 360 degree view as he patrols the waters for any sign of danger. His subtle wink telling me that all is well and Jaws is nowhere to be seen.

I take two more steps.

I am now in waist deep water and while the shore is still ridiculously close, in my mind I am in deep water. I’m scared. On edge. But I am deeper. I’m with my people. I’m facing my fear. And I am trusting that God’s got this whole uncomfortable situation under control.

I like the shore, but sometimes I need to go deeper. Sometimes I need to override my default fear setting. And maybe one day, one day, the deeper water won’t bother me as much. (Maybe!)


 

This weekend I will once again leave the comfort of my shore and walk out into deep water.

I have been invited to speak at a women’s brunch at a church very close to my heart. When I was first asked, I laughed! I reminded the caller that I am a writer, not a speaker. I write because it is comfortable. I can do it from home. By myself. While wearing fuzzy slippers!

But I felt God begin to call me away from the shore. I felt Him stiring my heart. Calling me to walk deeper. Towards Him.

 

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Public speaking terrifies me (ok…so maybe I have three phobias!) But not following God’s call terrifies me more. (does that one count too? Is that four???)

And so Saturday I will walk into some deep water, but I know that I will not walk alone. The One who has called me deeper will walk with me. He will stand as a firm lighthouse and a steady anchor. He will hold my hand and He will speak through me.

The shore is beautiful. But so are the deep waters. For beauty, true beauty, is found wherever God is.

(Even if a roach happens to scurry by! 😉 )

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Much love,
Jen

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