by: Staci Stallings
I’ve been doing a lot of marketing and thinking about marketing recently, and I stumbled upon a concept that I think translates well in the spiritual and practical life as well. The concept came from watching “Soul Surfer.” If you’re not familiar with that movie, it’s the story of the surfer girl who got her arm bitten off in a shark attack. The story and how she handles the tragedy in her life are inspirational. But what I was really fascinated by was the surfing.
I can’t imagine doing that. First off, I would surely drown, but more than that having the balance and strength to ride the waves is unfathomable to me. In fact, there’s a very short scene in which she is learning to stand on her board after the attack. She does a sit up and comes all the way to standing. As someone who could hardly get her shoulders off the ground, that was insane!
As I thought about the movie, I realized a great truth of life. You cannot ride the waves if you aren’t willing to do some paddling first. I noticed that a “ride” came in four parts: paddling, waiting, riding, ending.
First comes the paddling. You cannot ride the waves if you’re on the shore. In fact, you can’t even ride the waves if you’re very close to the shore. In order to catch the waves, you have to be willing to paddle and sometimes paddle a lot. In life this is called “work.” The more willing to do the work you are, the more waves you will be able to catch. In school, this would be called studying. In life it would be called work. In money it would be earning and saving and investing.
You don’t become a millionaire by sitting at home. You don’t get on the A-Honor Roll by taking easy classes and turning in halfway done work late. It doesn’t work like that.
You have to be willing to do some paddling.
Once you’ve paddled, however, there comes a time when you get to wait. This is hard because it seems like once you’ve paddled, what you’re working for should happen overnight. When it doesn’t, I think we get discouraged. In fact, this is part of where I came up with this lesson. I had ridden a wave and it was great fun. But afterward, I realized to catch another wave I would have to paddle again. And that was a real let-down. Then I did paddle only to find myself waiting for the next wave. If you’re not careful, this part of the phase can take you out altogether. Why?
Because waiting is hard.
I’ve been waiting for God to do something awesome with my writing for 16 years. Every so often it looked like the wave was here, and I would ride it. But most of them were small waves at most. Then I’d start all back over, and it was frustrating.
Now, however, I am beginning to see why God had me wait and how the wave He had in mind for me was perfect.
Once that wave shows up in your life, you have to get on it and ride it to the best of your ability. After watching Soul Surfer, I went on the ‘net and watched other surfers. They are AMAZING! Riding waves that are 90-feet?! Awesome!
Riding the waves requires balance, strength, and a lot of practice. I wouldn’t recommend trying a 90’ wave on your first time out. And the same is true in the spiritual world. Ride the small waves first. Practice and get good at those. The bigger waves will come, and if you’ve been practicing, you’ll be ready.
Finally, and this phase is just as frustrating as the waiting phase, the wave dumps you off back at the shore. Sure it was fun, but now you have to paddle again and wait again. And if you’re not careful, it’s easy to quit right here. But don’t quit. The waves are worth it.
So get your paddle on and go find another wave… life is out there waiting!