> Spirituality > Personal Growth

Stand Up Paddle Board and Facing Life’s Waves

July 20, 2017 | by Rob Eisenberg

Keep moving forward and don’t be afraid of the waves.

Stand Up Paddle board (SUP) is the latest craze in Tel Aviv. All summer long you can see people paddling their way through the Mediterranean along the Tel Aviv coastline. After "SUPing" for a weeks, I realized that SUP is a good metaphor for life.

The waves come at you from all directions, from straight in front of you and from right behind you. You have to do your best to maintain your balance and continue moving forward. Lots of times you see the waves so you can anticipate the challenge. Other times you just need to react.

Life hits us the same way. There are risks and problems and we do our best to prepare and plan. But sometimes God sends us a wave we can’t see and we’re taken by surprise. We have to do our best to hold on and stay afloat.

Sometimes we see the wave and over-compensate, causing us to be tossed forward off the deep end. We need to do our best not to overreact to situations and put things in perspective. As the wise King Solomon's ring inscription keenly read, "This too shall pass." How often do we get caught up in reacting to something only to find out that it wasn't as bad as we had imagined.

When you’re on your paddle-board, the important thing is to keep moving forward, despite the waves. You don't always know where you will end up, but you let go and enjoy the adventure. This reminds me of the classic struggle between God's will and free will. Both play a part in SUP and in life. God has an overall goal and plan for each of us, but it's up to us to get there. Sometimes there are waves that come from out of the blue that we can't control, but we can always control our reaction to those and our resolve.

The key is to maintain balance on the paddle board, no matter how overwhelming it gets. Squat a little bit, stand on one leg or up straight, lean forward, back, right or left and sometimes all at the same time!! Be flexible. Your paddle is there to help you maintain your balance and composure, giving you more stability. In life that support can be a friend, a mentor, someone who can give you advice and perspective before you venture out on your own again.

It’s easy to navigate calm waters but it’s also not exciting and uneventful. Bigger waves present more challenges and enable you to build your core muscles and get better. In life, growth occurs only outside the comfort zone. At times we get stuck in our mundane existence and routine. When challenges arise, our character is tested and pushes us through.

Don’t be afraid of the wave. You need to face it head on and be perpendicular to it. That gives you more of a chance to stay upright as opposed to staying parallel to the wave or trying to get around it which will more often than not cause you to capsize when it hits you on the side. We may be tempted to try avoiding or running away from our problems in life, but that only leads to trouble. The most effective way to deal with them is to face them head on, directly. Admit there is a problem, run into it so to speak, and then work out a plan to overcome them.

You’re going to fall off the SUP and it hurts. You scrape a leg or swallow salt water. Life is painful at times, but you have to get back up. You can’t just sit in the water and wait for help. You have to keep trying! Sure you can take a break, close your eyes and let the waves take you where they may. Your body becomes one with the water as you flow along with the waves. This is the highest form of trusting God. You feel you are completely in God’s hands and you relinquish control.

Sometimes in life we feel confused and unsure of our direction. We can take a step back and allow God to guide us, ride the wave and notice the subtle nuisances in which God directs our journey. And when we are ready to take the helm again, we can see the reasons we had to go through those experiences.

Enjoy the journey and don't avoid the big waves. Face those challenges head on and keep paddling forward.


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