Sometimes, It’s Hard to Row This Boat

I just got home from a road trip with a girl who carries a bright yellow bag that has a cartoon frog plastered across the front.

And for the first time in months, I remembered that sometimes you can’t stand steady on your own.

Sometimes, you need to wrap your hands around something that can help you straighten your back and lock your knees. Because there are sometimes when the winds are just too strong for you to stand without the help of something or someone else.

I’m used to driving south in silence. Accompanied only by a large coffee, my dark gray jacket and a small bag of essentials; I tend to take my road trips all on my own. I didn’t remember what it’s like to have someone in the passenger seat, to have someone who will stand in a Chick-Fil-A parking lot with you and tell you that you’re getting closer, closer to finding whatever it is that your heart really needs.

“Most people haven’t ever learned how to live in the tension.”

The strain of disappointment. The weighty pull on a heart in those moments of when everything just feels uneasy. The storm before the calm. We always want to run. I’ve just wanted to run.

And I couldn’t figure out what the songwriter was thinking when he told us to row this boat gently. Clearly he didn’t realize that life isn’t always a dream.

Someone should have told him that sometimes it’s hard to row this stinking boat.

Especially when they tell you that you’re rowing it all wrong, it takes some strength not to jump out of the boat. Oh, and it takes some self-control and patience not to kick them all overboard.

But that’s not even an issue for most of us. Because a lot of us don’t even pick up our oars. We refuse to even try to go out into deep waters, to go beyond where we can see the shoreline. Let’s just let this boat take a little ways out, and when things get shaky, we will jump ship and swim back to shore. When we’ve gone as far as our comfort allows, we’ll head back home and try again when we see a change in the weather.”

With fear like that, I don’t know why we ever got in the boat in the first place.

What’s the point of this thing if you can always see the shoreline? If you’re so close to safety that you never have a moment where you’re thanking God you brought someone else along for the journey?

I think that’s what happened this weekend. I got a little far out there, I got to that place where my paddles were getting heavy and I was just so desperately trying to keep my grip in the middle of it all. Suddenly, I was glad that in my decision to venture past the coast that I had someone next to me, that I brought a friend who could make me laugh in the uncertainty of it all. I’m fortunate to have a friend who would blast a good Cher song and discuss with me the wisdom of Pocahontas.

This weekend, I learned a little bit about walking on water and that’s a whole lot easier to do when you’re not alone. When there’s someone to take over the rowing while you venture out and get your feet wet. Someone who can smile with oars in hand and say, “You’ve got this, little girl.”

She said it from a hammock in the sunshine and I heard her loud and clear. And I remembered that all of my best moments were those that had someone laughing behind me and saying, “Jump on in, the water’s going to be just fine.”

When I got home, I had a message in my inbox, one that said a line that might have just ruined me for the rest of my life:

Happier misses you.

And let me tell you, in that moment, I knew that was true. Happier has been missing me and God knows, I’ve been missing her too. I’ve been longing for those days when risk didn’t automatically equate to loss and where “nothing ventured, nothing gained” should have been stamped on my forehead.

I was happier when I didn’t strap on a heavy-duty life jacket and keep a flare-gun glued to my hands. Happier and I were always closest when we couldn’t see the sand and were instead just laughing in the uncharted waters. When we let ourselves feel the excitement of not knowing where you’re headed, but loving the smell of salt water and of the moments with the people you brought along for the ride.

Happier misses you, you know. And she misses the way that you love to lock hands with uncertainty and step out onto the water. She’s ready to come back around, and if you’re wanting to see her again she’ll meet you in the deep blue waters right where the shoreline disappears.

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13 thoughts on “Sometimes, It’s Hard to Row This Boat”

  1. I think as we get older, we get more scared, even scared of Happier. We should, like a trusting young child, sometimes just jump and believe we WILL BE caught, we WILL BE safe. We will be happy. Greetings from a cold and wet Cape Town, South Africa

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