Stepping Out of the Boat
Mean I Have to Get My Hair Wet?
life without a challenge?" my ten-year-old
blurted before she leapt, flippers first, from
the boat. All I needed was the excuse of cool
water to hold me back. I clung to the ladder,
nursing my shoulds and what ifs while she swam
away leading the rest of my family to deeper
waters. I should start dinner; they'll be hungry
when they get back. What if they don't want
to swim with me because I'm slower? What if
she swims too far from the boat and gets a cramp?
dipped my ankles deeper into the water. What
if they think I look fat in my new suit? I should
lose a couple pounds. I retracted one foot from
the water. What if they have fun, and I'm still
perched on this ladder? I sucked in my breath
and scooted down a few more rungs. What if my
daughter stays behind with me next time and
misses out? I plunged into the water and kicked
away from the boat.
contrast of youth and maturity can be inspiring
disturbing. How many of us were once fearless
ten-year-olds? In a recent Oprah audience, women
of all ages confessed they feel suffocated inside
their comfort zones.
did our shoulds become the obstacles that inhibit
our potential? When did the what ifs tighten
like tethers at each precipice of risk?
of us bury our true selves under the clutter
of everyday shoulds. We get stuck in the perceived
safety of avoiding risks: of failure, of not
being good enough, of abandonment, of harm,
of rejection. Our risk avoidance robs us of
living valiant and contented lives.
challenge to those of us hiding in our comfort
zones is aptly summed up in the title of John
Ortberg's book, If you Want to Walk on Water,
You've Got to Get Out of the Boat.
tend to get out of the boat reluctantly. I have
recently taken up snowboarding (I'm in my late
forties). A few weeks ago, my friend Elyse suggested
that we board together while our daughters were
off snowboarding. Elyse claimed that she was
also a beginner. Together we took the chairlift
up to the top. I would have preferred the gentle
beginners' slope. But we went with Elyse's choice,
the intermediate slope. To me, this represented
a pitch into extreme speed and possibly even
the risk of death.
traversed proficiently down the first part of
the intermediate incline. She stopped within
shouting distance and waited for me. I looked
down and froze. Several minutes passed while
Elyse prompted and cajoled, "Just get going
and whip your back foot around. You can do this,
I know you can."
had never seen me board before - what was she
thinking? I listened to the incessant chatter
inside my head: I should be at home dusting
my baseboards. What if I fall and split my head
underneath my helmet?
Other boarders whooshed past me while I balked,
scooted, tumbled, and slid on my bottom to where
Elyse awaited. I had covered only one-tenth
of the way to the bottom of that hill.
I knew you could
try this next part," she said. Eventually,
I made it down the hill. Each little sprint
was met with Elyse's enthusiasm and encouragement.
That afternoon, we went down the same slope
several more times, at my request.
challenges and risks that trigger debilitating
what ifs and shoulds is not unique to the modern
woman. Esther, for example, was a Jewish orphan
raised by her Uncle Mordecai at a time when
Jews were still held captive in Persia, circa
485 B.C. Esther had her own "stepping out
of the boat" issues. She was selected among
many young maidens to wed the king. Unbeknownst
to the king, his new queen was of Jewish descent.
Within months after the wedding, her husband
had ordered killing of all Jews, a response
to the manipulation of an evil man named Haman.
trembled at the outcome. Should she dare beseech
her husband to save the Jews, her people? What
if the king discovers that she is also a Jew?
What if the king -according to the law and custom
- killed her for approaching him without his
Uncle Mordecai intervened to question his niece,
"What if you are in this position of royalty
for this very opportunity - for such a time
then realized that her own boat held others.
First, she asked her Uncle Mordecai to call
the Jews to a time of fasting. Esther found
favor with the king, and expressed his willingness
to hear her requests. Esther said, "Let
my life be given me as my petition, and my people
as my request." Haman's scheming was exposed
and he was executed. Esther and the entire nation
of Jews were spared.
left unchecked, our shoulds and what ifs become
our obstacles that prevent us from being all
who God created us to be. Choosing to step out
of the boat unleashes our potential.
who knows if rocking that boat "for such
a time as this" could ripple through the
lives of others, releasing them to embrace God's
destiny for their lives.
all it takes is an Elyse, a wise Uncle Mordy,
or the voice of your ten-year-old to reveal
the potential just beyond the next obstacle.
life coach, Julie Voorhees, helps others
realize and unleash their God-given potential
into their everyday lives, She is a graduate
of the Institute for Life Coach Training and
a Behavioral Analyst. Julie lives in Nevada
with her husband and their last pre-teen. You
may contact Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org
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