Day 8 ~ Leaning In

It was a perfect day near the end of a perfect Hawaiian vacation. Just one thing remained on the “things I want to do in Maui” list, and perhaps the thing I was the most excited about – snorkeling in the calm, clear water along a coastal reef to see what there was to see under the sea!

Adventuring isn’t exactly my game, but I came into this vacation with a spirit of “I just want to try”, which is how we ended up at Snorkel Bob’s being fitted for goggles and handed a pair of swim fins.

It was mid-morning, and the beach was fairly empty but we soon spotted a handful of snorkelers in the water, bobbing up and down, faces pointed downward and snorkels standing at attention. I was SO excited to get out there!

I was grateful that Tom had some experience with snorkeling, and I excitedly waded a few yards into the water where it would be “easier” to slip on my swim fins.  After much effort and being rolled around by the surf, while raising one fin over my head, I finally managed to force my foot into an opening roughly the size of my wrist, and without even a moment to celebrate, I was promptly swept off my uni-finned feet and fell backward into the water, while being pulled out with the menacing tide that had by now marked me for a rookie.

As I came up for air and tried to find my footing, I was starting to think the snorkeling adventure I was so looking forward to might not even happen if I couldn’t get to my feet. Again and again, I would take a few steps back up the shore to get traction to try and pull on the second swim fin only to have my feet swept out from under me again with a hard pull toward the next set of waves.

Then from somewhere above the roar of the waves, I heard Tom’s voice saying, “Stand up….just stand up” which is what I was TRYING to do, amazingly. But he must have seen some glimmer of trouble in my eyes because he came closer and said these words that changed everything….

“You can do it. When the next wave comes, don’t step back ….you have to face it and lean into it. Otherwise, it will pull you down every time.”

I just didn’t get it….it was absolutely counterintuitive and by now I was getting really tired (and cursing the clerk at Snorkel Bob’s for insufficient training…) I clearly remember looking up at Tom, a few yards in front of me and saying, “I don’t think I can do it….I really don’t think I can get past this.”

Thankfully, he didn’t let me give up, and I heard, “Yes, you can. Wait for the next wave, and just as it gets to you, STAND UP. and LEAN IN.” A few seconds later, I saw his hand reach out to me and with what felt like the faith of Job, I grabbed his hand and pulled myself up and straight into a 20 foot (or maybe it was 2) wave, and just like that, I was past the breaking surf and into the calm of the ocean, bobbing with the gentle swells along with all of the other definitely NOT panicking snorkelers.

And for the next two hours we floated and swam through an absolute world of wonder! It was all I had hoped and imagined with dozens of fish in tropical colors, stripes and shapes. The struggle of getting there was all but forgotten, in the peace and beauty this side of it.

Later that night, as we were taking in our last Hawaiian sunset, I stood on our lanai reflecting on the day and how thankful I was that Tom had encouraged me to keep trying to stand up and get past the breakers.

And in the stillness where God speaks to my heart the loudest, I thought of other types of angry waves I’ve faced, like grief, fear, unbelief and feeling forgotten by God. And the harder I had fought against them and tried to run, the more I felt swept away. It’s been in this long process of learning to let go – of leaning into the unknown and trusting in the one who knows all about the waves, that I’ve found safety again.

If you are in a tide pulling, breaker smashing, wave bashing season, know that you don’t face the waves alone. The hand of God is reaching out to take yours and guide you safely to the other side of the pain and into peace. (No snorkeling gear needed!)

Leaning with you,


About Shellie Warren

Welcome ~ I am a mom, a wife, a friend, a sister, a daughter, a dreamer and a writer. But most of all I am a woman of faith - I have a deep longing to know and love....God.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Day 8 ~ Leaning In

  1. Well, thank you for that friend. I’ll grab God’s hand and lean in a little harder.

Leave a ReplyCancel reply