I feel sometimes God says to me that I’m going through life as if I’m training like Ha’a Keaulana, the Hawaiian surftographer (cue crying emoji because God is right, I am a bit ridiculous and He has a great sense of humour!).
Here Ha’a, a world reknowned surftographer, is photographed by the incredibly talented National Geographic photographer, Paul Nicklen, carrying a 50 pound weight underwater. Now it’s one thing to hold your breath in a swimming pool for a minute but it’s something completely different to swim down 30 feet, pick up a huge rock and then run as hard as you can for a minute.
And whilst great for training, this just isn’t sustainable. And so it is with life. We are trained and fed words of strength from when we are little. ‘You can do it!’ or ‘Believe in yourself!’. My mum, with all good intentions, used to say to me, ‘Be strong, little bear’. Which in and of itself is the most endearing statement ever. But what it says to us is ‘forge on with all your strength and might’.
Personally, I love the FCB and Sport England’s campaign for girls which communicates a powerful message of ‘This girl can’. It carries powerful messages to encourage young girls to overcome insecurities, join in sports and beat their physical barriers. Executions chant ‘Hot and not bothered.’ or ‘Speak to the backhand.’. Messages of strength, power and I can do it all. Ensuring young girls overcome their fears and body insecurity is relevant. And coming from a sporting nation and upbringing, I all too understand it’s importance…
What happens though when we’re convinced ‘We can do it all!’ but find ourselves in a pit feeling that actually we can’t do it all? Does the devil not work with a double edged sword. Convincing us that surely we are ‘less than’ and not good enough because all that media feeds us is that we can do it all. The single mother is haunted with shame as she struggles to even make it out the door and the banker beats himself up because time and pressure has once again kept him from the gym floor.
And so we continue to hold our breath, carrying our 50 pound weight and press on with all our might whilst adding another 50 pounds of weight in shame to our ankles. No wonder we are barely able to breath. And as one that has tried this life training trick, and almost suffered a genuine break down, I can share with you that this weight is not worth it’s claim.
So we back track to what God says and what He intended. We lean in to ask for His wisdom, His thoughts and how we carry this 50 pound weight… And we find that, quite frankly, He tells us that we shouldn’t be carrying it at all.
Matthew 11:28-30 reads:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Now I don’t know about you, but learning the unforced rhythms of grace sounds more like surfing the wave of life time compared to a minute long haul on the bottom of the ocean floor. And I sense that is what God is trying to say here. He’s trying to say, ride that wave. Or more specifically… Ride My Wave. Where God is the force (of the wave) that drives us forward and we need only balance our surf board and let Him carry us in.
And how different does this look not only for ourselves but for those we serve and those that surround us. I mean, God bless Ha’a for her strength, but she ain’t smiling, putting out a hand or looking at no one in this effort! And how true is this of ourselves when we carry our weight with all of our own strength, only being able to focus on getting one foot in front of the other. We miss out on the joy for ourselves and struggle to see or have any capacity for others. In contrast to riding that wave, hair whipping in the wind and putting up a Shaka (or gnarly!) sign with a huge smile of pure joy to our fellow surfers and those waving us on from the shore! Sure, we’re putting in our own effort but there’s pure exhilaration as we ride fast and with greater force, powered by the wave of God, than we could ever do with our own strength and determination!
And yet how often do we say ‘Hey, no thanks God with your awe inspiring wave! I’m going to choose to push weights at the bottom of the sea, struggling slowly alone down here, completely in my own effort…’.
P.s. On further research, we find that Shaka symbolises so many positive statements “Hi,” “Thank You,” “All Right,” “See You,” “Peace,”, “Take Care,” and “Chill Out” These are some of the daily reasons for delivering Shakas. And it made me think… let us be the folk of granting peace, hello’s and general signs of care from God as we ride free in the joy of His spirit.
P.s.s. Be sure to follow Ha’a (@haakeaulana) and Paul Nicklen (@paulnicklen) on Instagram – their photo’s are supreme!