Learning to Surf at Hanalei Bay

That's my friend, Sherry. She learned how to surf while we were in Hawaii. 

I tried, but I don't have the stomach strength to pop up onto the board. It was a little disappointing, especially because I found myself in the water with a skilled teacher. The beach was covered with Make a Wish Foundation volunteers who were helping kids diagnosed with life-threatening medical conditions "Learn to Surf with Bethany Hamilton". (We were surfing at the very beach where she was attacked by a shark!) One of the volunteers saw me struggling and came over to teach me how to surf. Unfortunately, surfing is not my sport.

But even though there aren't any pictures of me riding the waves in Hanalei Bay, I still learned to surf. And almost everything about learning how to surf can be likened unto how to ride the waves of life. 

1. Have the right equipment. Choose a wide, steady board that's at least a couple of feet longer than you. Did you think I was going to compare this to my husband?? Nope. . . I'm going spiritual with this one. If you are going to ride the waves of life, you are going to need God. 

2. Don't go surfing without a leash. A leash connects you to your surfboard. So what connects you to God? Prayer. God wants us to communicate with Him through prayer. And as we pray, we will come to know Him and draw nearer to Him. 

3. Find a partner. Surfing with a partner offers safety, moral support, and a good surfing buddy will talk you into paddling out when the waves are big. This is my husband. He has talked me into paddling out into big waves more than once. Your partner could also be your neighbor, your mother, or even a good cyber friend who lives 3000 miles away. 

4. Before paddling out, assess the conditions and know your limits. How do we do this in life? Use discernment and know when to say no. To people. To things. To places. That also means we need to know when to say yes, which can be equally difficult. The Spirit can guide us in our decisions and protect us from physical danger. 

5. Plow right through the whitewater. Before you can get out to where the waves break, you have to paddle through the whitewater. We all have to deal with drudgeries that are just part of life: dishes, laundry, taxes, car repairs, home improvement projects, vomit. Go for nice, even, alternating strokes and just get through them. 

6. Once you get to where people are sitting around in the water, take it easy and watch what others are doing. When you are entering a new stage in life, (aren't we always?) ask an experienced friend for advice. Find a mentor. Listen to your parents. Follow the prophet. (Blogstalking is a good way to watch what others are doing; I have learned some incredibly helpful things from reading good blogs.)

7. While you're waiting for a wave, your focus should be on the horizon. A surfer needs to keep their head up, be aware of what's going on, and focus on the horizon. They need to be ready to spring when swells approach. We need to know what we want out of life and be able to recognize opportunities. This is something I pray for regularly. 

8. Make sure your body is perfectly aligned with the center of the board. Just because you have religion in your life doesn't mean it's going to get you though your trials. Being perfectly aligned, or converted, helps us remain firm and steadfast. 

9. As the wave approaches you, paddle as hard as you can and lean your weight forward. The natural tendency is to lean back and keep the nose of your board from going underwater, but that will just slow your momentum. I love this quote by Elder Neil L. Andersen, "When faced with a trial of faith--whatever you do, you don't step away from the Church! Distancing yourself during a trial of faith is like leaving the safety of a secure storm cellar just as the tornado comes into view."

10. As soon as you're moving, jump to your feet. This is difficult and requires physical strength. Foot placement is crucial, and it takes some practice to get it right. In life, we need spiritual strength. Faith is critical, and I am continually surprised by the amount of practice I need to get things right. 

11. Be ready to wipe out and know how to do so safely. All good surfers wipe out. In fact, you will spend more time wiping out than you will riding the waves. Likewise, everybody makes mistakes. The Atonement of Jesus Christ allows us to repent and gain forgiveness.  

12. Remember your reference points on the beach so you know where to lineup and start again. Where do you go when you have "wiped out" so you can line back up in optimum position to catch the next wave? For some, it's to the mountains, on a long run, or to the beach. For others, it's out for ice cream with a friend or on a date with your spouse. For me, the ultimate place to line back up and start again is at the temple. Partaking of the sacrament can also provide us with a sacred moment in a holy place.

My friends and I have spent the last two weeks recovering from our trip to Hawaii. Mourning. Lamenting. Aching for Hawaii. I think it was less the actual geographical location and more the ten straight days with our spouses and the break from responsibilities (read: kids). Re-entry has been rough.

Last week I was called to serve as 1st counselor in the Eccles Park Ward Relief Society. At first I was bothered. That makes me sound like a bad person, but I really was. Mostly because I had just accepted a position as President-Elect for the Junior League of Ogden. (Something I had to be talked into and certainly wouldn't have done if I would have known I was going to end up with a more demanding church calling.) But then I realized that I could do both. And that I should do both. I am now thankful that things happened in that order. 

Steve has been gone. A lot. Some days have been so busy that we barely notice. There have been dentist appointments, orthodontist appointments, doctor appointments, and LDS Family Services appointments. I've taken the kids skiing, taken the kids to movies, taken the kids for ice cream, and taken care of a puking kid in the middle of the night. (That's usually Steve's job.) I've gone to parent-teacher conferences, community council meetings, Junior League meetings, and Junior League projects. I've cleaned out my filing cabinet, submitted an application to the landmarks commission for a new fence, and checked other random to-do items off my list. 

And I feel like I am surfing . . . focusing on the horizon, ready to pop up and catch the waves. 

1 comment:

Gloria said...

Looks like you have a great talk written, great insight.
Congratulations on the new calling!