Sometimes, being swept off your feet is not at all that romantic. Consider walking into the ocean. The warm grains of sand wrap around your feet and toes, giving way just enough as you walk to build a small hole that tries to hold on with every step. The sand nearer the ocean is damp and cool from the remnants of waves that retreated only minutes past. Gathering your courage you press onward until that first taste of ocean water touches your toe. It is cold, and you stop walking – jerking your foot backwards, but only for a moment. Before you realize it, the waves are slapping against your knees and an occasional drop hits your chest.
When the water rises to your waist the fun really starts. Typically, we hold our hands above our head, as if the water were poisonous, and make high pitched squealing sounds while the ocean water laps between our belly button and neck. That’s when we are the most vulnerable. The current action causes the sand under our feet to move with incredible speed, while the force of the wave pushed us to and fro. Our balance is suspect; our confidence to stand is diminished. Yet for some unknown reason we try to walk just slightly father than we should, we delay the dive into the wave far too long. Then, with amazing speed and force the mysterious rogue wave rises from the depths and engulfs our precarious body all the way to the fingertips. Standing is not an option as our feet are thrown up toward the sea and our head flies backwards, toward the shore. We are at the mercy of an ocean so much more powerful than we, that the example of a man swatting a mosquito is at best, understated. We are usually wise enough to close our mouth, protecting the lungs, but often we open our eyes, hoping to see the shore and safety, instead the salt water burns our eyes making everything worse. So for a few moments we are lost, confused and hurt in a very foreign world. Then the sky opens above and gathering our senses we find the shore. Putting our back to the sea – we move to dry land. Sometimes the shock of the wave is so strong that we drop to our knees as soon as the depth of water will allow, crawling to the shore and gasping for air, while water and sand swirl in a confusing mixture.
Just prior to my 40th birthday a big wave hit me; I was downsized at my company – fired without warning. Six weeks before that, a huge wave engulfed my life when my father passed. In each case family and friends were waiting for me on shore with towels to dry me, food, clothing, and a warm fire to comfort me. They helped me stand up and brought me out of the sea.
I survived those waves because I had help. Sometimes though, we crawl out of the ocean only to find an empty beach. It could be that the rescue team has not arrived yet – they are on the way with sirens blaring, or perhaps you have not told them about the wave, so in their ignorance your friends and family cannot offer help. If you are alone on the shore, cold, wet and tired, try not to be afraid. I believe God himself will reach down and pick you up; he will hold you in his hands until help arrives. He saw the wave before you did.
It is in the nature of a rogue wave to virtually come from nowhere in an unsuspecting moment and hit you hard. But when the water is cresting over your fingertips, remember that help is waiting, and watching from the shore.
Thanks for reading.