I just try to live every day as if I’ve deliberately come back to this one day to enjoy it as if it was the full final day of my extraordinary life. ~from the movie About Time
Last fall, my friend Jenny’s husband Jon wrote a most powerful poem. I cried when I first read it because it was brave truth my hungry-to-risk soul needed to hear.
We all get our own oceans.
Just over the horizon, they beat against the shores of our comfort zones
while we content ourselves to float about in small boats
on small ponds
with small dreams.
Should the wind blow faster than we like,
we can stand up in the shallow, tepid water, knee-deep and headstrong,
as if we are the captains of the voyage.
We are not,
we are sailors hidden in ponds.
But erosion has nothing on the beating heart.
Try as you might to silence that dream, it refuses to stay dead.
Numb it all you like,
hide it under being an adult and growing up and being realistic,
it will not shut up.
Will you be great or just greatly known?
Will you master the sea,
or beat your fists against your chest in a proud pond triumph for the small dreamers who line your safe shore and cheer your safe life?
We are not on the sea yet.
The sea is black deep, the bottom unreachable, the waves hungry.
There are sharks and cliffs and trenches that would swallow the Grand Canyon.
No mantra will save you.
No three steps will neuter the ocean.
Scream some positive affirmation you learned at a hurricane until your voice goes bloody and it will not calm.
The sea was not meant to be controlled.
The sea was meant to be sailed.
To surrender to something that is bigger than you, has always been bigger than you, will always be bigger than you.
I choose sail.
I choose sink.
I choose rise.
And you? You must choose.
Today, lest you sacrifice that rarest of gifts once again.
We all get our own oceans, never trade yours for a pond.
Jon’s words resonated then – and they resonate now. We are to live extraordinary, risk-taking, legacy-making lives – lives that fuel dreams in generations to come. Whether our lives touch one or one million, we are to live them deliberately.
We dive deep, we swim far. We feel the sting of the salt and the crash of the waves. There are moments we simply want to let the ebb and flow of the tide pull us under for good – yet we gather courage and we.keep.swimming.
We choose sail. We choose sink. We choose rise.
“We all get our own oceans.” The words are beautiful. Frame-worthy. Words to be cherished and repeated like a war cry against fear.
And yet, something’s missing.
Because here’s the thing about oceans. Those beautiful, powerful bodies of water are all connected – like children holding hands on a playground. And the more earth that moves under this girl’s feet, the more I understand just how much we are like oceans – we are created for connecting and built for belonging. We are most fully alive when we gather and pour into each other like tidepools and waterfalls. Our lives become most extraordinary when other lives flow into them.
My friend Sarah, who has served more than 1200 people at her table that’s becoming a global ministry and mission, says it best. “We are ordinary people called to love extraordinarily.” She’s reminded me to stop and look around me, to hold out my hand. There are lives just waiting for your life – and mine. There are oceans linked to us by faith and fate.
Today, be my ocean. And I’ll be yours. We’ll be extraordinary.
And we’ll sail.
Thank you, Jon Acuff, for your encouragement over the past year. This ocean-swimmer owes you and your beautiful bride a debt of gratitude for your willingness to invest in others. And thank you, Sarah, for being the perfect picture of what it means to hold hands with others. I pray everyone gets to sit at Neighbor’s Table the way chef Anna Watson Carl of The Yellow Table Cookbook did just a week ago, as she trekked across the United States to share her recipes and her passion for everyday gatherings. I know all are welcome at Sarah’s table. I can’t wait to tell the world about #lovemission.