Change ….the challenge of a sneaker wave…


A little info to stick in your pocket as you read this post… “A sneaker wave is a disproportionately large coastal wave that can sometimes appear in a wave train without warning… Because they are much larger than preceding waves, sneaker waves can catch unwary swimmers, washing them out to sea. It is not uncommon for people walking or standing on beaches and ocean jetties to be washed into the sea.” (Wikipedia)

Funny how you are just going about your day, never dreaming that in a matter of months you’d be in a different home, your spouse would have a different job, different income, you’d be living in a different city, different culture, and completely out of your comfort zone… not to mention far away from family and friends. But it does happen, and it happens everyday to lots of different people. Why should we be exempt?

…And change, often, doesn’t come slowly… it doesn’t stop and ask “Hey, just checking in. Are you ready for this? Or would you prefer that?” And “Would you like that in 1, or 2, month increments?” Nope, it just comes… it comes like a sneaker wave…

One day you’re just playing in the sand on the shoreline with your pails and shovels… building castles, digging motes, building outer walls and gates to protect your castle from the occassional sand crab attack… and the next thing you know *BOOM* you are gasping for air…yep… That, my friend, is when you find out what you are made of… and it isn’t always a good thing.  You mine-as-well just slap that movie title “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” right on that puppy and hold on!  Because, all of that is about to be revealed in the moments that follow the wave. *sigh* Yet you get through it.

Looking back on it, I can clearly see that while the course of events was largely out of our control (job change, move, location, starting over), there was a lot in our control too (attitudes, behaviors, speech, outlook).  It’s funny how sometimes we get it fixed in our minds that if we just dig in and say “NO!” strong enough, that, that somehow will help/change the situation… but it only causes division. Or maybe, if we just show how sad we are, that will change things… Nope, that’ll just make your spouse feel guilty. Or even better, let’s just pretend it’s not even happening… *I’m going to close my eyes, click my heels together three times, and when I open my eyes this is all going to have been a dream* :-O …yeah… because that helps?! It took me a few steps back to realize that what was about to happen was actually going to happen… there was nothing I could do that was going to change that. I could run, I could hide, I could whine, but, in the end, that reality would be waiting for me, shouting “wake up!”

I was left with a choice. Okay, so I couldn’t change what was going to happen, that wave was already here, but I could change how I handled it! How was I going to handle this sudden wave of uncertainty? Am I going to get mad and fight the current only to get tired from the endless struggle and invariably be swept out to sea? Am I going to just give up as soon as the wave hits because the current is just too hard and then drown in my sorrows? Or, Am I going to keep my head about me and remember what I had learned about ocean currents/life? Not wasting my energy struggling against the currents but to do what has to be done, fight the urge to swim towards shore, tread water… swim parrellel to the shoreline…but survive!

Do I want to show my children that yeah, this is hard, but we are a team. We stick together, and we will learn something through this journey.  Taking it as it comes… one minute at a time.  Or, do I want to whine and complain about how “this isn’t what I wanted”, and “this is soooo hard” …or feel sorry for myself because “this isn’t how I thought my life would turn out”, “noone understands”, or “noone cares how I feel”? Honestly, I really had to think about this.  May seem cut and dry to you, but I kind of wanted to pout or at least sulk!

It’s amazing to me how much of happiness, contentment, and well-being is determined simply by our attitudes.  Just a small shift in focus and things begin to look a lot different. I tell you what, once I made up my mind that I was going to make the best of it, have a positive attitude, and look forward to what the future may hold, the whole process of the months that followed, was much more tolerable. Yes, I said tolerable, because that’s what I meant… it wasn’t awesome, it wasn’t fun… it was sad and it was hard… we said goodbye to a lot of people we cherished, getting out of one home, finding a new home, finding a new job, then living apart for awhile while he had to go ahead of us to begin his new job.  It was a challenge, but we did it.

The year began, we were playing on the shoreline, with seemingly endless blue skies ahead.  By the end of that first month of the new year the sneaker wave had appeared and we found ourselves grasping for eachothers hands as the wave overwhelmed us.  Buckets?  Pails?  Castles we were building?  None of that mattered now… Survival was our one and only concern.  Gasping for air, making sure everyones heads stayed above the water.

The next few months we would spend treading water.  It’s crazy how picky you can be while sitting on the shoreline… wanting to find the *perfect spot*.  But oh how your perspective changes when you are treading water 50 feet out.  When you’re struggling to breathe, any place on the shoreline will do, so long as you all get there.  In the middle of it all, when the rip current has full hold on you, everything is uncertain.  There is no way of knowing when and where you will wash up on shore…

We did eventually wash back up on shore, oh the sweet relief!  It took us a bit to stand up and we are still getting all the water out of our lungs.  Drying off?… I suspect that is a process that may take awhile…  However, here we are, months after the sneaker wave came ashore and changed our lives.  We are still in love, all of our self-esteems are securely intact, and we are together!

No, it’s not perfect, we are in the transition period… we washed up on a new shore…. new city, new church, new people, new culture …trying to meet new friends, having some occassional sad times but trying to look forward, to build a new life… not sure what it’s going to look like, but it’s a start.

Now, at the beach, sitting safely atop of a dune, looking down onto the shoreline, something red catches my eye in the waves.  As the object comes into focus I begin to smile.  It’s a little red bucket rolling in on the waves… 🙂

Today I choose to be thankful that, this time, even though we didn’t see the sneaker wave coming, when it hit, we didn’t let our circumstances sweep us irretrievably out to sea…

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