In March, I traveled to southwest Florida to spend the week with my three sisters, and celebrate my Dad’s 90th birthday.
We stayed at a lovely condo that faced the beach. Walking out onto our sixth floor porch, we were greeted by the Gulf of Mexico. It was so peaceful to sit there and watch the joggers, the families playing frisbee, and the waves lapping gently on the shore. Dolphins gracefully slid over the water, flipping their tails in the waves.
All this beauty and peace stretching out in front of me for me to enjoy.
I’ll admit to some frustration too. Still getting around using a walker, the beach wasn’t an option for me. I could watch it at a distance, but I couldn’t jog or play frisbee. I couldn’t join my sisters as they searched for shells. Or sit with them at the waters edge, flipping their toes in the water.
Limitations are not fun.
Well, they’re not fun if I keep reminding myself that I’m somehow missing out. That my Florida experience is ruined because I can’t look for shells. The choice is mine. I can lean into the joy of gazing on all the beach activity, or rail against my constraints, making myself and my sisters miserable.
This experience led me to remember all the times God has sent me such joy, given me exactly what I needed. But instead of being grateful, I’d cross my arms, and toss my head. Yuck. How could I be so short-sighted?
The sadness at being unable to walk the beach, however fleeting, blocked my ability to appreciate the perfect gift of that porch. Instead, all I could see is what I wanted. What I thought I needed. I wanted independence, I wanted to jog and swim in the Gulf.
But you know what? If I hadn’t been looking straight out at the water, I never would have seen those dolphins. I’ve been visiting my Dad in Florida for years, but never saw even one. This time, they seemed to be tripping all over themselves to breech for me.
If I hadn’t sat out on the porch one night, and saw all the stars, I never would have suggested that we all take a short walk to the beach to take in the constellations. My sisters carried my chair, and made sure we sat on a flat, hard stretch of sand, close to the building. The four of us sat in low chairs, towels over our legs for warmth, while we talked and talked under the impossibly dark sky, illuminated by more stars than I’ll ever see in my suburban-home sky.
I hope I’ll always trust that His gifts are perfect, and gently given. And if I don’t, I’ll just remember those dolphins and the bright stars. Seeing them was really God saying “I know you. I love you. I made this all for you.”
Thank you Lord. How could I ask for more?
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