“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go”. –Joshua 1:9
“What was I thinking? I can’t do this! I am not cut our for this…this was a bad idea.” These were the thoughts running through my mind as I walked up to my friend’s car. Earlier that day, I had made up my mind to go for a run later at the park, but as I was leaving church the opportunity to spend time with two friends opened up and when the suggestion of long-boarding came up my response was, “Sure, why not? I’ve never gone longboarding before.” Enthused my friends decided they would teach me and so we all agreed to meet up later at the park.
Hours later, after a leisure stroll with a dear sweet friend (to walk out the nerves) there I was standing behind my friend’s car as we selected a longboard. Lucky for me my friends were experienced and eager to teach me so I knew I was in good hands. One of my friends was already gliding and attempting tricks–“surely this isn’t so hard”.
–Wrong (so wrong)
“Okay guys so what do I do?”
“It’s easy you just keep one foot on the board and you push off with your other foot, like a skateboard”.
“I’ve never been on a skateboard..”
Other friend, “No worries, just climb on, try to balance, push off with your foot (like this) and turn your feet to turn”.
So I did exactly as I was told. I placed my right foot on the board, pushed off with my left, and as I pulled my left foot to get on the longboard…
-There goes my right ankle..
(No worries, again)
(And again…) “Yay, I got the hang of it! Now how do I…stoooooop?!”
(There goes the longboard…)
Quickly, our gallant friend ran to recover the longboard before it hit the water. By now, I knew this was an indication that this feat would be difficult…and perhaps a visit to the emergency room was in my future.. Uncertain, I voiced out my doubts and fears in jest and laughter, as my concern only grew for rest of this day. You see, I know myself. Although, I make the best efforts to stay active and exercise, I also know that coordination is not my forte. Accidents tend to follow me. I once fractured my pelvis while running ( at sixteen) and that has always haunted me. (I am the girl that trips over thin air, and here I was on a longboard trying to maintain my balance).
About 5 ankle hits later, I was able to get on the longboard. This short-lived achievement resulted in an apparent indication for my friend to give me a gentle push (of encouragement) to be off on my way.
-(Wrong idea, John Wayne).
Heart racing and eyes bulging out of my sockets, I was certain I was about to hit the water (Did I mention, I don’t know how to swim?). Thankfully, I didn’t and I was able to stop. My friends caught up to me, applauded me, and encouraged me that I was getting the hang of it. We were only about 1/4 of a tenth away from our starting point..(but progress is still progress, right?). I am usually a long processor, but when it comes to these type of moments my brain goes on hyper-speed. I deduced that if I was ever going to succed at this, I needed space (no more gentle nudges for this gal). So, I persuaded my friends to go ahead of me, and so they left.
There I was, just me, the pavement, and the longboard. Only one of us destined to be the winner. And so I attempted it, again, and again, and again. And this is how it went:
-I got this!
-I don’t got this, I don’t got…
Okay, here we go again.
-This isn’t so…
Friendly runner: “You are brave for doing that, I couldn’t do it”.
-Okay, now turn…
-Okay, here we go..
And then there they were, my friends, so proud and happy that I was able to stay on board. After much encouragement, I told them my goal was to make it to this one landmark so they accompanied me. They gave me a few pointers, like keeping a wider stance for balance, and then they stopped to examine a snake. And then they stopped to chat with some people they knew, so I kept on. Proud of my accomplishment I was thinking, “Okay God, what are you trying to teach me? Surely, you are teaching me something…”
I hit the pavement so hard my injury lasted for the next seven days. And of course, there was an audience (my friends). I laughed. It was the only thing I could do to mask the pain. Both of my friends rushed to my rescue, one helped me up, while the other (John Wayne) made sure I wasn’t bleeding or seriously injured. Once I was back on the board, we proceeded to return to our cars.
Overall, I had fun. I enjoyed trying something new and having two friends by my side to share this longboarding venture. My aching body disagreed with my final thoughts, but I truly did enjoy the experience.
Afterwards, I decided to go wash my car and as I was drying it I was recalling that afternoon laughing about all the falls. Laughing about how my fate had been sealed from the moment friend A and friend B were my teachers. “Teaching is not their forte. Where were the rehearsals? The step on and step off? The..”. And that’s when it hit me.
-Life doesn’t teach us that way.
In fact, my friends ended up being excellent teachers, they taught from the “every day life” approach. In life, we don’t get a “step one, two, and three”. There may be people who will guide us and offer advice but that’s about it. Everything else is up to us. We choose how to respond. There will be moments when we fall and our friends, family, and other loved ones will be right there to help us. But there will also be moments when we fall and we will be by ourselves facing the choice to keep trying or give up? Likewise, there will be many victories. Some will be experienced with others around who will encourage, praise, and celebrate with us. Just as there will be many victories only known to us but still meant to be celebrated. These triumphs are just as important and teach us that we don’t always have to depend on others to succeed. What we have learned from others goes with us wherever we go.
This is the beautiful part of it all. Philippians 4:9 states, “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you”. And Joshua 1:9 proclaims, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Both verses echo the same idea, you are not alone God is with you and equips you. The One who taught me to fight and how to fight remains with me wherever I go. He was the reason I kept getting back on my feet and continuing to attempt to master the longboard. He gave me life, and life was not meant to be wasted, but to be enjoyed. Sometimes that means that you make the best of every opportunity even if it’s one that doesn’t cater to your strengths. I had been given a gift that day. A gift of fellowship, friendship, laughter, strength, perseverance, and endurance. A gift that was meant to be opened, enjoyed, and appreciated, and that’s why I kept going.
God gave His only begotten Son so that we would not know death, but be granted the gift of eternal life. I wasn’t just born; I was born for a purpose. Just as Christ was born for the purpose that all would come to know Him and believe in Him. Whatever the circumstances Christ faced, He kept going. He kept loving. He kept getting back on the longboard (metaphorically speaking). Just the same, to the cherished churched ones, whatever comes your way remain steadfast and keep your eyes on God. Keep believing. Keep trusting. Keep living for Him. Abide in Him and His light will never go out. To the cherished un-churched ones, don’t grow discouraged and don’t lose hope. If darkness falls believe that there is a light nearby, and when you see it, walk toward it for where there is Light there is Hope. Keep your head up and keep moving forward for along your path God’s love is being poured out and He is knocking at the door. My question to all of us is, how will you respond?
As always, I appreciate you so much for reading and remember:
In His abounding love,
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” -John 3:16-17