The westerly wind blew little waves into our lake, like marks of a knife on a frosted cake. It wasn’t enough to cancel our beach day with my friend Sheri and her teenage girls, but it was enough that our normal boating and fishing were deterred.
We owned the entire perimeter of the forty-acre body of water that provided homes for bass, pike, bluegill and countless turtles and frogs. The homemade sandy beach was perfect for fun family picnics, business events and girlfriend days like this one.
“Can I go kayaking?” my 5-yr-old son asked. Kayaking was a newly acquired skill, and he was always one to love the kudos people gave him for being so athletic so young.
“It’s windy. I don’t think it would be much fun to have to fight it,” I tried to detour the request. “Do you want to show them the trails?”
“I understand you don’t want me to, but it’s not that windy; I can handle it!” he pleaded*.
There was really no more danger in kayaking that day than other days. Though he was a good swimmer, his life jacket would provide extra safety from the water. The wind would be more of an inconvenience than a danger, so I pushed his boat into the water and off he went!
His brother, three years older, followed. Within minutes, it was obvious to the elder that the wind was going to win the battle for the steering, so he returned and beached his kayak.
I looked out to see my youngster in a full-out struggle against the wind. His small stature kept him low in the boat – his armpits barely cresting the edge of the cavity where he sat. The special kayak oar, (which has paddles on both ends, rotated ninety degrees from each other,) was in full motion OVER his head. The cumbersome motion looked exhausting, as he paddled water on the left of the boat, then lifted the six foot oar over his shoulders, twisted, and quickly put in to pull equal water on the other side. Under calmer waters, each stroke would have propelled the rider through the water almost endlessly like a friction-free glide. Not today.
Each stroke looked as though it took his entire body, down to his toes. He struggled against the wind. He rowed and rowed, trying to get to the west end of the lake. But the wind was too much, and it continued to pull him backwards.
After a few minutes, I asked my oldest son to get into the paddle boat (which kited less) and go save his naïve brother. Prepared with the rope and friends (Sheri’s girls), he went to the rescue.
Sheri and I enjoyed our moment alone. Girl time is a gift that rarely comes with silence! I suppose I should not have been surprised when our peace turned into noise as a Brady brawl broke out on the water. I heard splashing, and paddle-smacking and screams of torment, as the 5-yr-old rejected his brother’s offer.
“Get out of here! I can do this by myself!”
Embarrassed by his behavior out of my reach, I calmly went to the side of the lake and told the rescuers to retreat. “I guess he doesn’t want help,” I explained.
They returned and we continued our day of fun with friends. Fire started; hot dogs ready; Polaris Ranger was full of gas for the trail tours.
I watched the lake, and my little guy was going east as fast as the wind was blowing. His tiny arms were no match for the forces from above. Soon, he “landed”. The bed of lily pads at the east end of the lake held on to many of our lost fishing lures. Any boat without a motor surely ended there due to westerly winds, but in the kayak, they presented more trouble, since the oar could not get water amidst the weeds, even on a calm day. I knew he was stuck and going nowhere. I waited.
Then we heard it: a sound like a ghost moaning.
“Mrs. Brady, I think he’s crying on the lake,” the girls came to me, concerned.
“He’s ok, or he would be asking for help,” I said, trying to stay tough.
“Wooooaaaaaahhhh!” the moaning continued, but got louder.
“Are you sure he won’t drown?” the 9-yr-old girl asked.
“As long as I can hear his voice, I know he’s above water,” I joked, but then explained: “If you listen, his cry is getting louder. He’s trying to get our attention, but I really just want to hear the words, ‘I’m sorry. Please help me.’ I believe if he sits long enough, he will realize the plight of his situation, and he will kindly ask for help.” (And I quietly prayed that would be true!)
“Wah Wah Wah!” the noise reached full crying, and vocal cords were at a maximum.
“Mrs. Brady, don’t you think we should go out there and make him come in?” the girls asked, so kindly caring about his well being.
I debated for a minute. I AM the mom, I thought. I could go win this battle with force, and punish him for the rest of eternity! But my senses kept coming back to me, if he struggles long enough, he will recognize that he is NOT the one in control.
Finally, the crying turned into intelligible words, “Mom!”
“Yes, dear?” I answered from the shore.
“Can you please help me?” he said, between sniffles.
“Of course! I will send your brother; but before he can tie your boat, you owe him an apology for trying to hit him with the oar, right?”
Silence, no answer…
“Say, ‘ok, Mom.’” I directed.
“Ok, Mom,” he mumbled, almost resolved to his lack of control of this situation.
I listened for the proper words and attitude toward his rescuers upon their arrival to the kayak. “Thanks and sorries” filled the air, replacing the space the moaning had occupied moments before.
As an adult, I wonder how many times I’ve had to end up “stuck in the lily pads” to learn my lesson?
Someone will cry out today, “Why is God letting me drown?!”
Yet He’s hearing every word, and knows we’re still breathing.
I’ve cried, “I can’t handle this!!”
And He already knew that. We are not meant to handle it.
I am sure my son must have been thinking, “Why won’t Mom help me?!!”
…when he had already batted away the very person I had sent to help, because he wanted help from anyone but that person.
“Doesn’t God hear my moaning and crying?!”
Yet He tells us He would rather hear “sorry,” “thanks,” and “please help me.”
It’s at the root of all conflict, according to John Maxwell.
It always leads to fall, according to the Bible. (Prov 16:18) Haughtiness is an abomination to the Lord! Yet, I battle it like an addiction.
Pride is when we turn down the help, because “we don’t need it.” It’s when we say “God isn’t answering,” because He’s not solving the situation the way WE think it should be solved. It’s caring more about looking good to others than being good in His sight.
God’s power is made perfect in weakness, (2Cor 12:9) yet I’ve often laughed, but do I really have to LOOK so bad? haha!
Yes, I could have done a blog on “thankfulness” this Thanksgiving week, and yet sometimes I believe our pride blocks our thanks from being heard.
Why talk about pride during the holidays? Because with holidays comes family:
- Your husband is going to ask you to make his mom’s recipe.
- Hook your rope to her boat.
- Your sister-in-law is going to wipe the table exactly where you just wiped!
- Tell her thank you.
- Your grandkids are going to spend more time with the other set of grandparents than you.
- Thank God that He gave you grandchildren that you love.
I really believe my best weight-loss program was when I realized the weight of the world was not on my shoulders, and it never was.
Come on, girl, you can do it! Rise above being offended this year!
Take the help and give the help. God has great plans.
Turkey tastes better without lily pads.
Proverbs 16:5 The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.
James 4:10 Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will lift you up.
Matt 8:27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”
* nice “wise appeal” from Say Goodbye to Whining Complaining and Bad Attitudes by Turansky and Miller. Obviously, we had not reached the goals of that book by this point, but I am so grateful for “the wise appeal” in the Brady family!!
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