Kayak Lessons

Mocha and I like to walk out to the edge of the dock where my father-in-law keeps his boat on Lake Sammamish. There’s a white picnic table where I can sit facing the water. We often spot eagles, cranes, or seagulls out there. We always see ducks bobbing in and out of the water. Once in awhile we spot playful otters, muskrats, and frogs splashing in and out of the lilies. Out here it’s easy to forget about bumper to bumper traffic and the fact that nothing feels like home.

It’s not unusual for me to talk to God out on the dock when no one else is around. Here I feel safe to confess my shame in how I don’t see how any of this is going to work out and  can’t see him in any of this. I tell him I’m sorry for being so weak and for thinking I could see this through. I miss my friends and the security of regular deposits into our checking account. In this moment I wonder if he regrets this adventure as much as I do.

Off in the distance I hear a faint high pitched squeal. I turn toward the sound thinking it’s coming from a kayak. (I also hear drums and wonder if this is confirmation I have officially lost my mind.) A few minutes later a kayaker paddles in our direction, then stops. He’s close enough I can see him launching some kind of toy into the air. It soars and squeals before plopping into the lake. He bangs his paddle on his boat a few times and says a few words I can’t understand before digging his paddle into the water toward the floating toy. This process repeats until he’s nearly straight out in front of the dock.

Remember, I just poured out my heart to God about needing to see him in this mess a few minutes ago. I don’t know if this kayaker is training for a race or what he’s up to, but he’s got my attention. I watch him make a game out of dividing the distance of the lake into shorter lengths.

It’s here at the edge of the dock I begin to see God response to my confession and questions:

“You’re overthinking our adventure again. You can’t see that far ahead. It’s too far for you. It’s ok to break our adventure into smaller pieces. One day at a time is better than nothing and before you know it you’ll look back and see how far you’ve really come. I’m going to show you how. Eyes on Me.”

The kayaker doesn’t seem to notice or care if anyone’s watching. His strategy is simple; release, paddle, retrieve, rest, repeat. It’s ok if he needs to stop and take a break—he’s still moving forward. This isn’t a race; he’s not competing against anyone else. He’s simply doing what it takes for him to go the distance.

I cannot pretend not to be freaked out by all of the change when it feels like I’ve landed on another planet. (Why oh why do I always seem to forget that my personality does not handle change as well I would like?!) It’s ok to feel. It’s ok to rest. It’s ok to take a break. It’s ok to grieve and ask questions. God knows this adventure is NOT a competition. All that’s required is to keep paddling forward even if it doesn’t make sense to anyone watching.


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