It is a public holiday tomorrow and we have plans to visit one of the local beaches before it gets too busy or hot. When I was younger I loved spending time at the beach. Splashing about in the water and jumping waves were a favourite pastime of my sisters and I.
On a visit to the beach a number of years ago I found myself doing what has become my habit on such occasions. We set up the beach tent and while my 5 year old son and husband went to play on the foreshore I sat in the tent and read my latest book.
At the end of our time there my son asked, “Mum, why didn’t you join in with us?” and I found myself replying, “I really like watching other people having fun at the beach.”
The look on his face at this response was priceless. It stopped me in my tracks and caused me to ponder why on earth I would think it’s more fun to sit back and watch others enjoying what I used to. What was driving my reticence to participate firsthand?
Eventually I worked out what was driving this changed behaviour. You see, after 3 children and a love of chocolate bordering on addiction, I no longer possess the same shape I had in my youth. I was embarrassed to be seen in anything less than jeans and a t-shirt in public. Yet, by hiding away in the tent each time we went to the beach I was missing out on playing with my family.
What was the big deal? It would seem I was allowing what I thought would be the opinion of others to hold me back from fully enjoying our beach adventures. Somehow, I had allowed my perception of what others would think of me rob potential joy moments in my life. As if anyone else on the beach would care what I look like in bathers as I splash about … and ever if they did, what does that matter? Their opinion of me shouldn’t matter. What matters is the interaction with those I love and care for.
The next time we went to the beach I went prepared to venture onto the foreshore, possibly even to let the waves wash over my feet. When I got out of our beach tent there was not a massive collective gasp from the beach go-ers that day. Small children didn’t run away in fear and people didn’t point and laugh.
What did happen was my little boy grinned as I answered ‘yes’ to him when he asked if I was really coming to play. We stood in the shallows. We started jumping waves that splashed over our shins. Then we went deeper, and deeper, and pretty soon he was on my back as I was jumping waves for the 2 of us. The hour we spent together there was pure delight as I built fun life memories for him and re-lived some of my own.
This is the lesson I wish to share. Do not let the perceived opinions of others, strangers or otherwise, rob the joy you can have in life. Jesus came to give us life to the full. (John 10 verse 10). Embrace the opportunities as they come your way. Life is too short not to enjoy jumping waves on the beach.