I’m not a good surfer.

on October 26, 2010 in Ze Bloggy Goodness with 23 comments by

I’m watching television and the guy is surfing. He can barely keep himself upright. The waves are coming one.after.another. and what he lacks in skill he makes up for in effort. Bless his heart. He’s drowning. The pro-surfer girl beside him keeps saying, “Hang on, paddle, breathe.”

He finally gives up and floats in. He looks terrible. As they sat side by side on the sand, he said, “that was literally 100 times harder than I thought.”

And I’m watching this and thinking that I want to be friends with that guy. Cause I get it.

I’m in over my head in a few different arenas. I’m not the only one. I know you feel this way too sometimes. We all do. This blog will not be full of complaints or whines. I’m just saying…. I’m not a good surfer.

And there are a lot of waves.

And the waves have a lot of faces.

A family member making ridiculous choices, so affecting to the rest of us that I DREAM nightly about a conversation I will never have.

A book with Westbow that once turned in, I can’t take back.

Friends with diseases.

A massive bit of internal turmoil [dramatic much?] regarding some stuff between me and God [here’s a hint] that is breaking my heart and yet nothing I can talk about.

A season of feeling unbelievably introverted, partly my own fault and partly things that people say that end in, “and you aren’t allowed to tell anyone that.”

Family drama [on the other side, if you can believe that] involving my parents having to be self-less and awesome and step into mess they never made. And it’s going to end really really great, but the process isn’t so great.

Big changes at Mocha Club that raise questions and I don’t have any answers.

Trying to comprehend grace and trying to connect with a God who the more I know the less I understand.

Food. Exercise. Choices. Lies in my head.

The waves the waves the waves.

Please don’t hear this as me whining. I’m a writer. When I write, I heal. When my fingers move across the keyboard and my head nods slowly in agreement and my throat closes up because I need to cry it out a bit and the tears are actually words, I am soothed. It’s like medicine. So forgive me if my medicine is making you sick.

I know. My life is not hard. People in Africa have no clean water. Homeless women on the streets fear winter. People lose family members suddenly.

I have a roof over my head. A job or two. So much food that it is embarrassing. [See above wave.] I have amazing parents and my health and friends and my life is not hard.

But I’m just not a good surfer and the waves right now are strong.

All I know, all I can do, is promise God that I won’t quit surfing if He won’t let me drown.

We’re good so far.


  1. Carmen
    posted on Oct 26, 2010 at 6:04 AM  |  reply

    I’m praying for you.

  2. posted on Oct 26, 2010 at 6:23 AM  |  reply

    Praying, Annie. Exactly two years ago I thought God had let me stay under a little too long. I thought I would die…literally. He didn’t let me die. He brought me through that time so that I was stronger on the other side. Sitting here right now I would have never dreamed the path He had me on. Never. And it’s better than I imagined. Hang ten, friend.

  3. posted on Oct 26, 2010 at 6:43 AM  |  reply

    Ah! Dang waves… I HEAR YOU!

  4. posted on Oct 26, 2010 at 7:23 AM  |  reply

    As I was reading your blog this morning, I was reminded of a hymn I’ve been singing in my head a lot lately,

    “Be still my soul, thy God doth undertake;
    To guide thy future, as He has the past.
    Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
    All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
    Be still my soul, the waves and wind still know,
    His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.”
    -Be Still My Soul

    I hear you and am praying for you!

  5. posted on Oct 26, 2010 at 7:29 AM  |  reply

    Surfing is hard and then you realize why there are people who do it. Once you get on the wave and are able to ride it, its the most amazing feeling. You feel like you have conquered nature.

    Annie, the waves are coming, but you can make it. You can paddle out into that great big ocean, splash around, and when you are tired and push yourself way harder than you ever thought, you will catch a wave (a break, be able to breathe, some relief) and it will make everything, all the difficulty WORTH IT.


  6. posted on Oct 26, 2010 at 8:27 AM  |  reply

    I, too, am not good with the waves. My waves are obviously different, but yet, their still waves. And God most definitely won’t let you drown. When I read that I thought of something I read by Sarah Markley 2 months ago (I don’t remember if it was on (in)courage or her blog) but she said:

    “Courage is sometimes just walking right up to a new situation and simply being there. Courage just might be walking to the end of a diving board and allowing someone else to drop me into the deep end. Because I know Someone’s treading water below me and He never gets tired. He won’t let me drown.”

    I don’t know, that just spoke to me 2 months ago, so much so that I typed it into the notes on my phone. As a reminder.

    He won’t let you drown Annie! Praying!

  7. posted on Oct 26, 2010 at 9:11 AM  |  reply

    Oh Annie, What a beautiful expression of your heart.

    I am glad you use words to heal…it’s so healing for others to read and feel strangely understood through the other side of the computer screen 🙂

  8. posted on Oct 26, 2010 at 10:43 AM  |  reply

    There are days (and I seem to be in a season full of them) where I feel like the waves may just win – that I’ve fought all I can and need to float back to shore, like the surfer, and maybe find a new, easier wave to ride for a while.

    I woke up this morning with “Precious Lord” in my head and it’s been on constant repeat since then. Seemed like an appropriate reminder for me (and maybe for you, too) – Precious Lord, take my hand / Lead me on, let me stand / I’m tired, I’m weak, I’m lone / Through the storm, through the night / Lead me on to the light / Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home.

    Take care, friend!

  9. posted on Oct 26, 2010 at 10:59 AM  |  reply

    Annie — stop apologizing for your feelings and/or that your situation isn’t as bad as someone else’s. Your life is yours, and it’s hard. Don’t feel guilty because it gets tough. All of us deal with difficulties. They are hard for each of us because they’re OUR difficulties. This lie that we tell ourselves that we shouldn’t get down because our situation could be worse is crap.

    But get back up on the board and find the wave to ride into the shore! Paddle back out and ride another one after that!

  10. posted on Oct 26, 2010 at 12:12 PM  |  reply

    Sorry my friend… I know exactly how that feels…really hard to bare a lot of private things. I will be praying for you. Hang in there… you might even learn to surf 🙂

  11. posted on Oct 26, 2010 at 12:45 PM  |  reply

    This is a beautiful post. I love the analogy and I so understand that guy too. It is SO much harder than we ever thought it would be.

    We all carry burdens and sometimes our burdens feel like they are going to overwhelm us suddenly. It is a sign of what a good friend you are that people share their private burdens with you and that you continue to carry them around.

    You say you can’t talk about it, but you CAN. You can pray about it and ask God to help you ease those burdens.

    I’m going to say a special prayer that you will find what you need to become unburdened and so that you won’t let the waves drag you under.

  12. Merideth Schoolcraft
    posted on Oct 26, 2010 at 1:12 PM  |  reply

    So beautifully put, Annie. I can really relate to everything you said(including the family struggles) because I feel I’m in the same place. Most of the time it feels like I’m barely keeping my head above water,and I’m watching for more waves to knock me down. Know that you are not alone, and if you want to talk I’m here for you. Love you, and praying for you!

  13. posted on Oct 26, 2010 at 3:01 PM  |  reply

    Wow, Annie.
    I love you, and I don’t even know you. You so beautifully tied together words that describe what I think so many people experience.

    also. I will be praying for you. crying is my spiritual discipline. When I am upset or stressed or confused or overwhelmed, I just find a quiet, secret spot and cry until I have nothing left to cry out. Then I splash water on my face, avoid the mirror, and get on with life. It makes things easier to deal with.

    Thank you for being you, so vulnerably and honestly.

  14. posted on Oct 26, 2010 at 3:03 PM  |  reply

    […] Annie Downs wrote a beautiful blog about surfing. Not just regular surfing. Read it. […]

  15. posted on Oct 26, 2010 at 5:56 PM  |  reply

    Keep paddling girl, the shore is ahead and He won’t let you go under.
    Sending you prayers for peace and rest.

  16. posted on Oct 26, 2010 at 6:17 PM  |  reply

    Annie, I can so relate! Especially on the secret-keeping front…I’m starting to feel wary whenever someone says they want/need to talk to me. This too shall pass.

  17. camille
    posted on Oct 26, 2010 at 7:23 PM  |  reply

    Just wanted to let you know that your boldness and honesty about what is hard is refreshing. No need to justify feeling the heaviness of the waves. And yes, you have blessings. Many. So do I. But does that make life easy? Doesn’t sounds like it. It sounds (after following your blog for the past year) like you are falling the call of Jesus. And that’s just plain difficult. More power to you, praying for you to have someone to sit next to and talk about how hard surfing is.

  18. tam
    posted on Oct 27, 2010 at 1:15 AM  |  reply

    i love me a good authentic pour out.

  19. bethany
    posted on Oct 28, 2010 at 12:06 AM  |  reply

    thanks for sharing your heart. it was both beautiful and relatable. isaiah 43:19

  20. posted on Oct 28, 2010 at 8:23 AM  |  reply

    We need to hang out. I am so feeling you on this. I am having arguments in my head over all sorts of crazy stuff.

    PS – You are right where you are supposed to be. And God is using you. In big ways.

  21. posted on Oct 28, 2010 at 10:33 AM  |  reply

    I am totally there with you right now…not surfing really well myself…and breaking down at any moment–especially in staff mtgs–so the other people I work with think I am a basket case…which I may be…but working on it…
    Praying for you, friend!

  22. posted on Oct 29, 2010 at 4:47 PM  |  reply

    Yet again, another topic I can totally relate to. 😉 Writing is so healing for me as well (if I only I did it more often). Keep writing. I think God is using you to help others learn how to navigate the waves in their own lives.

  23. posted on Nov 06, 2010 at 6:54 AM  |  reply

    When I write, I heal. When my fingers move across the keyboard and my head nods slowly in agreement and my throat closes up because I need to cry it out a bit and the tears are actually words, I am soothed.

    Thank you.

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