Almost six years ago, on November 16, 2012, I posted a story dear to my heart – “To Walk on Water You Gotta First Get Out of the Boat”—in which I shared a photograph of my mother, my brother, and me taken 58 years ago in Canada. We stopped at a roadside stand selling small wooden boats and purchased 2 of them. In the picture, my mother is holding one of the boats in her hand.
I wrote: “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”.
The “step out of the boat” comment stems from my attachment to the Bible story about 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 his eyes are on Jesus he does fine, but when he looks at the waves and feels the wind, he panics and begins to sink.
I find myself thinking about Peter—it must have taken courage to take that initial 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?
That thought … being willing to step out of the boat… was a guiding principle for me for many years after my divorce. As I began the process of creating a new life as a single woman, I realized 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?
After my divorce, I did step out of the boat… I traveled to Europe…. took on additional job responsibilities …. had “Nana days” with my grandchildren ….. created a home in a new place …. and in the process of trying new things, I became stronger… I grew into a woman who realized her worth and loved her life.
Then came 2015 and I faced a dramatic “out of the boat” moment when my fiancé abruptly ended our engagement—In that case, I felt as if I was thrown out of the boat into raging waters.
I did not drown but I did not walk on water either—I pulled myself back into the boat and have spent the last 3 years sitting in my boat—and whereas I have worked at trying to create a new life—my desire for security and stability have kept me safe and dry inside the boat.
It is true I took on some challenges—a new part-time job—handled hip replacement surgery—found a new church home and made new friends—but I can honestly say I have been playing it safe. I have been lulled by the daily routine and sameness of my life—I have been drifting along in my boat—and watching the shore go by—day by day.
I have recently been asking myself the same questions I asked in 2012…..“What I am not stepping out and trying to do differently? And why?”
I have come to realize my need to step out of the boat is not driven by a desire for more “busyness” or something dramatic as “climbing Mt. Everest” but it is more a search for mindful awareness when making choices—of being intentional in my looking for and trying new opportunities—of realizing that if a door has closed then I need to look for the open door—and to not be willing to settle for the status quo.
I have many friends who are in my age range and they are floundering. They struggle with thoughts of “this is not how I thought my life would turn out”. Their lives are, in comparison to many, not bad lives… they are not touched by tragedy or poverty but frankly… not much in their day to day life appeals to them.
They know they want a change in their life but the problem is…..they don’t really know what they want to do. They have more personal freedom yet are dealing with the inertia that comes from being depressed or from going through the motions of the same old routines. Taking risk—trying something new—seems scary and involves too much energy.
I understand that. My personal boats from the past involved things such as always wanting approval from others or wanting to please others; I used excuses to rationalize not being brave or bold; and it was be easy to be intimidated by fear and doubt triggered by “what ifs”.
Yet, 6 years later I understand the danger of letting those boats chart the course of your life. I have personally seen the power and strength that comes from getting out of your boat and taking a step out onto the unknown waters.
What about you, dear reader…… As I listed my boats, were some familiar to you? Or, do you have others that control your choices…. prevent you from taking steps that might enrich your life? If so, what are you willing to do about them?
I do not believe God created us to be boring creatures merely going through the motions of life but instead wants us to be people who appreciate the glory of the world around us; who are open to finding joy in the ordinary; and who will share our love and lives with others.
So….. once again, I am getting ready to make and look for choices that will involve my being willing to try new things—to look for new opportunities—whether they be large or small—and in the process, I know I will become a stronger woman who will have a renewed enthusiasm for life.
And…. some final thoughts for my son, Chris…..
I will confess it seems a bit harder now than 6 years ago. I am older and making changes—even small ones—to my day to day life seems a little more daunting. I am not even sure what kind of changes I should make. But this much I know….. I cannot continue to sit safely in my boat and drift quietly along.
I think it is finally time to get out of the boat….. again.
But Chris….. keep the swimmies close by….. just in case I need a hand……
A note about the pictures below: I decided I wanted to include the original 1960 photo and then a current photo of me with the boat. As I am single and I would not usually ask my neighbors to take a random photo of me holding a small wooden boat, I needed to take a selfie.
Do you have any idea how IMPOSSIBLE it is to take a SOMEWHAT DECENT selfie holding a wooden boat?
As I struggled with the various poses and looked in horror at most of the photos, I soon developed a strong case of the giggles. One laugh led to another and my sense of humor took over as you can tell by the pictures below. I am sure you can come up with some interesting captions.
I have toyed with stepping out of the boat (in January) and giving on-line dating a try. Perhaps I should use some of these pictures instead of the more traditional photos……. But then again……. maybe not?
1960 – Please note my adorable matching outfit
2018 – Me and the Boat – the best picture although the hair is a bit messed up
The Rejects……. but maybe could use on eHarmony or Match? My photos would certainly be a bit different??!!