I love to swim and play in the ocean. I guess I must have been born that way, like some dogs are called “water dogs”. Having grown up in Vero Beach, Florida, my brother and I spent a lot of time at the beach. We would play in the waves for hours on end, riding our rafts all the way to the shore whenever we caught a good wave. I remember packing up the car with rafts, blankets, towels, food and drink, and lotion, and then the satisfaction of arriving at the beach for a good wave day; it was exhilarating!
On several occasions while riding the waves I recall being caught in an undertow. Usually when this happened it was sort of fun, like riding a big wave on my raft and being out of control for just a fraction of time. It often made me giggle. Maybe that’s just my love of adventure, I don’t know. Being caught in the undertow was sort of funny too, the first few times it happened, as I was able to overcome the feeling of being out of control quickly. Well, that all changed when I experienced a strong undertow that took me to the bottom and tossed me around until I was almost out of breath. That was scary, not knowing when it would end and I would be able to overtake the strong ocean current.
Fortunately, on the occasions when this happened, I was always able to resurface and swim to safety. I quickly realized when this happens that we’re very much on our own. Sure, there were other people in the ocean, my brother was nearby, and my watchful parents we’re on the beach, but when you’re caught in the undertow and resurface a considerable distance from where you started, you quickly realize the power of the ocean’s waves. Then you realize that you really are on your own, and that there is always a possibility that help wouldn’t reach you in time to save you.
Sometimes in life we make decisions that have a pronounced, long-term effect. The Bible tells of how our decisions affect the generations to come, at times carrying over to several generations later. I know, that ‘s Old Testament stuff. I’m not sure if it’s a generational curse, or the learned behavior that parents pass on to their offspring, but there is some validity to this thought. The decisions that I make will definitely have an after effect not only on my life, but on my family for quite some time.
Playing in the ocean as a kid was lots of fun. I’m thankful for those wonderful memories with my family. I did learn to respect the ocean, and the undertow. There were days when we looked at the waves and didn’t go in. Much later in my journey I learned the appropriate adage, “live to conquer another day”.
When the Bible tells us to guard our heart, we should take heed of this sound advice. It’s just like standing on the beach, looking at the ocean, and deciding whether to grab my raft and hit the waves, or live to conquer another… there are some days when it’s going to be giggly fun, and others when I should be cautious. How do I know the difference:
– Learn to read the waves. Ok, so the life parallel is to not stray too far from familiar territory when in a foreign land, take it slow when getting to know people, learn from my past and be sure to avoid making the same mistakes.
– Learn my own strengths and weaknesses. While my older brother may have been able to go out further in the ocean, or he may have been able to ride larger waves, I had to respect that he was older and more experienced than me. Furthermore, he was a stronger swimmer. I’ve learned a few things about my weaknesses, for example that I’ve been way too open and trusting with people (yep, just a wee bit gullible). I need to seek guidance from other people who I know I can trust and depend on. Often.
I’m thankful that my parents spent lots of time with us and took us to the beach. Their protective nature and respect for the ocean taught me to learn not only about its beauty and strength, but also my own limitations. So now I’m wondering… how can I be sure to pass this on to my daughters, and to my grandchildren? Am I being cognizant of my decisions now, and how they affect future generations? Am I giving my offspring an opportunity to learn, while staying involved enough to recognize where I may want to offer some assistance, or advice?
What decisions do we make that affect the emotional and psychological health of our heart?
Have you ever made decisions that you feel with affect the lives of your future generations?