Where feet may fail

It’s been a rough month emotionally. I just needed a break from the crap swarming in my head. So, on Friday night after an eight hour Doctor Who binge (sad, I know), I asked the Lord if I could I take an introvert day to the beach. He allowed it.

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My happy place

I decided to go to San Simeon for the day. One of my patients told me that it’s a great beach to visit, not too crowed and that I’d love it there. So I went. On my way there, I was just talking to the Lord and said:

I’d like to go sea kayaking. Maybe someday

When I usually take my introvert time, I just sit at the beach for hours and read. I love it. It’s my happy place. I’ll frolic in the waves for just a bit, get soaked because I went in too far and got slammed by a wave.  Then I sit down, usually covered in sea water and sand, and read for a while.

Perfect reading spot.
Perfect reading spot.

But, I’ve always wanted to go out farther. Go deeper in. Swim with a dolphin or two and really interact with the ocean. For me, I guess my representation of God is the ocean. It’s huge. It’s beautiful and peaceful. Yet very  powerful and could really take you out, all of us really, if it wanted too. There is so much of it yet to be explored, so much beyond my understanding.  Kinda how I view the Lord.  I feel closest to God when I am there, so I go monthly if I can.

Anyway…

As I am driving along the 1, I come across tons of beaches. Instant joy. Usually I give into that joy, stop and enjoy whatever beach I come across. God kept pushing…

“Don’t stop. You’ll like where you’re headed. Keep going.”

So I kept going. I drove past so many beaches, fighting the urge to stop each time. I pass this pier and it takes everything in me not to stop, get out and skip down it.

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God pushes,

“Keep going Alexis, you’ll like this.”

I finally get to San Simeon, pull into the town and see cute old buildings, horses, beautiful view. There’s gorgeous trees and flowers everywhere. I like it, but I can’t see the beach.

Cute town.
Welcome to San Simeon

“Lord, this awesome and all, and I am grateful because I really had to pee, but where’s the beach?”

“Walk.”

I walk down this stretch of road, dodge a few cars and then come across this view:

Ahh, there it is.
Ahh, there it is.

Unfortunately a large gate separates me from enjoying the ocean. I can’t trespass onto the land that would easily allow me access, so I get into my car, drive farther down and find coastal access. I hop out of my car look down the road and see this:

Sea Kayaks! Ahhh!!! Yes please!!!
Sea Kayaks! Ahhh!!! Yes please!!!

“Are you ready, Alexis? Let’s go kayaking.”

I admit, I was scared. This is something I’d really wanted to do for a really long time. I’d come across it, give into my fear or the idea of something happening to me and I’d talk myself out of it. I mean it’s the ocean. There is stuff in the ocean that can take you out. The OCEAN can take you out. One wrong move and I’ve got myself an early trip to Heaven. Yet God had taken me to a beach I’d never explored before and there were sea kayaks there. I had to try this, but I was afraid.

Finally I convince myself to go.

“Okay Lord, let’s do this. I’ll go to rental place and sign up.”

I get there and the sales person is out.

“See God, they’re gone. Maybe it’s not meant to be today. Maybe next time.”

“No. Wait.”

So I did. I wandered around the beach a bit, snapped some photos and waited.

A few minutes later, I see a guy running up the hill. I knew that it was my kayak guy. I hunt him down, and tell him I want to try kayaking.

“By yourself?”

“Yep.”

“Okay. Let’s get you started.”

I signed some waiver  that informed me that this activity could result in my death, changed into a wet suit and followed the guy down to the beach to grab my kayak.

“Have you ever kayaked before?”

“Once. In a reservoir. That’s similar right?”

He laughed.

“Not really. So you’re going to need help getting into the water. “

I nod.

He gives me a mini lesson on how to enter the ocean.

“The key is getting started is going in after the waves break. You have to stay straight. If you move too much to the side, the waves will knock you over. You have to hit the water head on. Once you pass the wave break, stay to the right. The water is calmer there and that wall over there is beautiful. When you get tired, go left so the current can pull you back. Got it?”

“Okay.”

“When I say, get in, I’ll give you a push and you have to paddle like crazy. How good of a paddler are you?”

“Decent.” If you count the rowing machine at the gym.

” When I say, start paddling. Toe to butt as strong as you can. Got it?”

“I got it.”

“You ready?”

Not at all. I CAN’T believe I am doing this. I’m thrilled and terrified all at the same time.

“I’m ready.”

Time for launch
Time for launch

“Good. I’ll send you out after this last wave. Okay now! Get in! Paddle! TOE TO BUTT!!!”

I paddle like my life depends on it. A swell hits and I paddle through it. Another swell, and I keep going. Finally I remember to go right and the water calms. I did it. I’m out in the ocean!

I literally shook for the first 10 minutes from excitement and fear. I have never been that far out from the shore. It was really unnerving yet AWESOME to be out in the sea. I head towards the wall. The guy was right; it’s a beautiful wall, with trees and several large caves in it.

I love caves!
I love caves!

I stay really close to the wall at first. Then I get bold and explore a bit. Then I get scared and rush back to my wall. Then I get a little bolder and go out a little farther. Then I rush back to my wall again. Then I swallow my fear and just start exploring. I spent the next hour and a half exploring caves, paddling around the sea and just enjoying my time with God.

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There was so much peace out in the sea. It was really beautiful. The sound of the water is soothing and calming. I knew I was safe. I had a life jacket, a paddle and if I got into any trouble I could just paddle away.  God had brought me here and I would be okay.  And if something did happen, I’d enter the gates of Heaven with a huge smile on my face because I would have died doing something I really loved.

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There was a lot of sea life around me, birds, fish mammals. There was a HUGE elephant seal chilling on the shore.

Meet Bill. Bill is not a rock.
Meet Bill. Bill is not a rock.

Something kept grabbing birds out of the the sky from the water off in the distance. I wanted to check it out but got the sense that it just wasn’t a good idea. Something swam underneath my kayak and it was the coolest feeling ever. The sun made the water sparkle and felt so good on my face and arms.  Every now and then I’d get a little bolder and want to go out really far.

It's not THAT far...
It’s not THAT far…

 

I listened to the Lord

“The farther out you go, the longer it will take you to get back.  You don’t want to do too much at once and burn out. This won’t be the last time.”

and let him guide me along the sea.

So much peace.
So much peace.

At one point, I looked around me and said:

“This is what Peter must have felt like, out on the water like this. This is amazing.”

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I could have stayed out there all day, but I got tired. Grateful that I listened and didn’t go out super far, I turned my boat to the left and let the current take me in. As I got closer to the shore, the current got stronger. I had to work to against the current and the waves to get to shore without tipping over. I dipped my hand in the water for a bit earlier on in my adventure while I was floating. That water was ice cold, my hair was straight and I had no desire of being tossed in the sea. I decided I needed some help.

“God, okay. You control the ocean and all, how about you bring about a nice wave and I just coast the rest of the way to shore? I’m tired.”

“Um no. This is good life lesson for you right now…”

“Oh come on, not now…”

“Alexis this is what you do. You get tired, give up too soon and you want me to do the work for you. That’s not how this works. You have to keep going, even when you are tired. You have  to work. You are so close to the shore in so many areas in your life right now, but you want to give in. You have to go strong all the way to the end. And when you need that push, that final push, I’ll be there. So start paddling, girl.”

I groaned and kept paddling. It was hard work. I started cramping but I kept going.  Finally my wave came and I got my huge push. I squealed with joy as I was shoved onto shore. Best ride ever.

I raised my paddle in triumph. “Woohoo! I made it!”

During my little victory dance, I forgot my kayak was still in the water and had to run back so the waves wouldn’t take it back out to sea. Once I retrieved my vessel, I flagged down the first person I saw and got a photo.

Happy girl.
Happy girl.

Awesome day.

God, I thank you for knowing your kid and what she needs. For speaking to me in a way that I understand. Through this trip, I got put to action what I’ve learned this year about conquering fear, and plowing on when my flesh says to stop. Man my flesh is loud; but You are getting louder.

I thank you for caring enough for me that you wake me up at midnight, 1 am, 2 am, sometimes 3am to talk, because you know I am not distracted.  You know I’ll just listen. I may not always appreciate it when it’s happening, but afterward I’m thankful for those moments.

I thank you for being super patient with me, even when I am at my most unlovable.  I thank you for teaching me about love and how to love.

I thank you for holding on tight, even when I push away.

I thank you for helping me take down my walls with others. It may be a slow process, but brick by brick, that wall is coming down.

I thank you for the journey you’ve taken me on this year.  I can’t wait to see what else you have in store for me.

Thank you for teaching me how to paddle. I’m ready to come to shore.

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