My husband bought a sailboat last summer. We’ve enjoyed a fair amount of adventures so far, and though I haven’t learned to sail I go for the sheer excitement of it all. The dark waves, white capped, rolling under us, splashing over us, rocking the boat side to side. The sky a wide expanse of clouds and beams of sunlight. I tremble both from nerves and the chill. My husband and his friend yell back and forth, to tighten a rope, adjust the direction of the rudder. My knuckles turn white from their grip on the railing as I try not to focus on the steep lean of the boat that I know is normal yet looks so absolutely terrifying. But I feel alive on the boat, and so I always say yes to the trip.
This sailing thing kept tugging at me, I knew it was trying to say something but I just couldn’t quite put my finger on it, until now. Was it my fear teaching me? Partly. Was it just the beauty of the place? A little. But during our last sail, as I watched these two men on the boat, I could see it clearly. I knew what it was my life was asking of me.
To sail is to fight. It’s a battle against the force of the wind and the waves and the sails. Hands become calloused and red as they grab onto ropes, muscles taut, straining to keep their grip. Sailing isn’t just about me conquering my fears, it’s not just the beautiful experience of being on the ocean.
It was always about holding on.
My life is better now than it used to be, but nothing good has come without a fight. Joy, faith, love – they’ve all been struggled for. The times when I was most miserable, felt the most alone and confused, were when I had lost sight of what was important to me. I was ignoring my faith, wrapped up in negative thoughts instead of praying and seeking.
Even now, these good things still need to be fought for, day after day. There are and always will be forces working against me, trying to make me lose hope, trying to bring me down. If I don’t have a tight grip on what I believe, on what I want from this life, I’ll be tossed overboard and pulled in every different direction.
For too long I have left my decisions to other people. I’ve looked to the world to help me make my choices, determine my beliefs and my next steps. This brought me to a place I was not proud of. I had no compassion for myself and little for others. This is not how I was created to be.
I’ve decided to fight for my faith, and already my heart is bursting with life and passion. Faith has got my attention. It’s been calling to me and I have finally grabbed on, and this time I’m not letting go. There are a million and one reasons why I shouldn’t believe, there are a million and one people telling me why I am wrong and why they are right. I’m becoming more and more okay with that. Storms are inevitable, all that matters now is that I keep holding on.
No one is going to warn me when my grip is loosening, when my footing is slipping. It is up to me to make sure I am staying true to what I believe. But I am quite confident that I want this bad enough, this life of faith, this trust in a God that I cannot see, that I will fight for it. The longer I hold on, the more my trust grows, the more faith I am given. This is what practice and perseverance are for, this is how it is supposed to work.
When you’re sailing you can’t give up just because the wind is too strong or the water too choppy. You have to keep going. Obstacles aren’t a sign of going in the wrong direction, they are a sign that you are moving. Struggling is not a sign of failure. But it does show me the state of my willpower, and it will build my strength. So even when I’m scared, when I doubt, when the world’s noise tries to drown out the quiet voice inside of me, I won’t let go.
This sailing thing, this life of faith, it’s all about holding on. I truly believe it is worth the fight.
Tell me, how is your grip these days? Have you ever had a time in your life when you wanted to hold tighter to your faith than what you were? I’d love to hear your thoughts.