In the pictures at the end of this post, there is a photograph of my mother, my brother, and me taken 50+ years ago in Canada. We stopped at a roadside stand that was selling small wooden boats and we purchased 2 of them. In the picture, my mother is holding one of the boats in her hand.
I still have that boat and it sits on my fireplace mantel but it represents more than a trip to Canada. It represents the strength one gains by being willing to “step out of the boat”.
There is a Bible story (and for those of you that are not religious, do not worry, I am not going to preach a sermon) that tells of the Apostle Peter being in a boat and seeing Christ walking towards him…. on water. Peter wants to walk to Christ and steps out on the water to do so. As long as he has his eyes are on Jesus he does fine, but when he looks at the waves and feels the wind, he panics and he begins to sink.
When many preachers share that story, their comments emphasize the importance on keeping your focus on the right thing—in that case, Christ. And whereas that is a good point to emphasize, I look at it in a different way.
You see, I am back there in the boat with Peter. It must have taken courage to take that step—to get out of the boat. After all, he was “safe” there.
And I wonder—how did he get out—did he jump impetuously? Did he slowly swing one foot over and then keep one foot in the boat—hedging his bets, so to speak. Did he stand and then hold on to the boat for a few minutes—testing his ground?
This thought … being willing to step out of the boat… has been a life principle for me these last 3+ years. As I began the process of creating a new life post my divorce I realized that it would involve risk… and change…. and uncertainties.
I wanted to be an adventurer but I knew it would involve taking chances and was I really willing to do so?
So, I had to ask myself “what are my boats? What I am not stepping out and trying to do differently? And why?” I discovered my “boats” involved things such as always wanting approval from others or wanting to please others; I used excuses to rationalize my not being brave or bold; and it was be easy to be intimidated by fear and doubt triggered by “what ifs”.
The truth of matter is that you cannot walk on water if you do not first get out of the boat.
I had to ask myself “what is in my heart? What are my dreams and what do I really want to do?” It became quickly obvious that my choices were to sit and watch the world go by and stay in my little boat and feel sorry for myself and complain or to take a step of faith and get out of the boat and live life with courage and joy.
The scripture for this blog, “I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me…Philippians 4:13” was deliberately chosen because I have learned that I CAN do all things if I trust Christ.
I may be nervous doing it or I may have to keep quoting the scripture to myself through gritted teeth, but I have learned that I can get out of the boat and have a life… a life that is not boring but is challenging and interesting.
Over the last 3+ years, I have stepped out of the boat… traveled to Europe…. took on additional job responsibilities…. had “Nana days” with my granddaughter…..created a home in a new place…. and in the process, I became stronger… I grew into a woman who realized her worth and loved her life.
As I look at that little wooden boat that now sits on my mantel… it reminds me of how far I have come and gives me courage for the journeys left to take. Who knew that a picture from 50 years ago and a small boat would mean so much to me today?