Just Write {40}

June 18, 2012

I was looking at pictures on facebook. Beautiful ocean Instagrams to be exact. The kind that make you feel the salt water on your skin and the wind blowing your hair all the way over here in Minnesota, where we are ocean-less but full of lakes.

The truth is, the ocean terrifies me. It’s beautiful and epic and I love it and it terrifies me.

There are so many parts of me like this. Like that Sara Groves song says,
“I’ve got layers of lies
that I don’t even
know about yet.”

I haven’t been lying about how I feel about the ocean, that’s not what I mean. It just takes me awhile to admit some things to myself and then out loud to be heard and either tossed or taken in.

There are layers with truths because my fear of the ocean goes beyond a fear of drowning or being eaten by a shark. It’s about feeling too small and maybe feeling an aversion to things that are foreign to me. I’ve never lived by the ocean–I’ve only stood next to it for moments here and there and so it remains a vast mystery, a stranger waiting to swallow me.

It’s hard to admit things that make a stranger not a stranger and then to wait, for your things to be tossed or taken in. Like a message in a bottle, where will it go?

I felt really small around strangers this weekend. I went to an art studio hop all by myself until I felt so insecure (really, that was a choice, not anyone’s fault) that I went home and took the second nap I’ve had since Elsie was born. I wore myself out with lies and fears. Do I look like I don’t have any friends to take along? I don’t have any friends to take along. I talked too much, I said too much. I probably totally freaked that awesome artist right out. She thinks I’m weird.

Stuff like that. Lies.

I’m used to the water. I grew up in the lake and I didn’t care if fish nibbled at my toes or if seaweed pulled at my feet from the lake bottom. I didn’t think I was going to drown every time I jumped off the big tower out in the deep or off the pontoon. Lakes are familiar old friends that have always known me back. They comfort me despite their propensity to swallow or bite. I can take the risk with a a lake.

I’ve got layers of lies that I don’t even know about yet.

After the nap I woke up feeling less paranoid and I told Ryan that I still can’t stop thinking about the little restaurant that’s for sale on Main Street. I told him I went in to take a look around and I imagined all that it could be. Neither of us wants to run a restaurant, but what else could it be? How could we use it to bring community and serve community? I love to dream and I know dreams are more like the ocean than like lakes but I do it anyway. I am passionate about dreaming and I’m a visionary and I skip past a million oceans when it comes down to it.  It’s like looking at pictures on facebook and ooohing and aaaahing and not actually feeling the saltwater or wind, just thinking about it. I walk right up and I see the beauty and then sooner or later I think about the sharks or the hard work of swimming into something that big and I run back to the lakes, you know?

Since we were near the art studio hop when we went back to look at the restaurant as a family, we stopped in one of the studios I had loved the most. I was buffered by my family with strangers all around and it was a whole new experience, like a life jacket or one of those cages that keeps sharks from you. I got to see the strangers more clearly, apart from lies and I became more of myself, less scared and more open, like the lake that I am. These strangers are lovely people, of course. And so are my dreams and maybe this time. This time. I won’t just dream and then fear and then toss…but I’ll say it right out loud over and over until it’s taken in and I finally just do the thing my heart and mind have been shaking hands over.

Lately I know without a doubt that living fully alive means danger and adventure and risk. It laughs in the face of the simple comforts and norms I call lakes. It is the ocean, this kind of living, and I know it’s what I want for myself and for my family. I want us to work together to serve in hard ways, knowing all the while that real living means yes, you could get swallowed and you will face some sharks but you will live. While you’re alive, you’ll live.

I love the ocean, but it terrifies me.


This is the 40th (!!!) installment of Just Write, an exercise in free writing your ordinary and extraordinary moments{Please see the details here.}  I would love to read your freely written words so join me and link up below. You can add the url of your post at any time. Just be sure it’s a link to your Just Write post, not to your main pageThen please link back to this post in your post so people know where to go if they’d like to join in.) (Any links not following those two guidelines will be deleted.)

Also. Please take a moment to visit someone else who has linked up! It’s a really good way to meet new writers and get inspired by the meaning behind their moments. Word?



Gianna June 18, 2012 at 10:26 pm

Dreaming is so fun! Oh, if only we could dream everyday! Dreaming is safe. It’s the next step that begins the scary journey!
Gianna recently posted..Fighting to Clean

tara pohlkotte June 18, 2012 at 10:28 pm

oh, i have been swimming in these lakes the last few days. it’s funny – for me i don’t even know i’m running from one water into the next until that minnesota breeze comes off the pines instead of salt water biting my face. then i realize i am back, and somehow have to find the outlet again. i hope this dream pans out wide and deep for you, friend. it is a beautiful dream, and you are just the right beautiful person to pull it off.
tara pohlkotte recently posted..This Life His Hands Have Built

Kate Coveny Hood June 19, 2012 at 6:59 am

Loved this one Heather. I’m terrified of all water – and change. But I still swim – and I keep moving forward every day, like we have to.

Creating something new is risky – but you’ve already created so much – all of it new. You can do anything!

Shelly Miller June 19, 2012 at 6:59 am

I live at the ocean, vacation at the lake, so both are familiar and not scary. But I do have friends who visit and when I finally convince them to get in the ocean they experience freedom, like eating a piece of chocolate cake for the first time. It’s yummy and they love it, want more. I can relate to having dreams and then reverting to what feels comfortable. You said it well here. And I hope you step into fulfillment on those dreams.
Shelly Miller recently posted..When It’s Hard to Say What You Want

Tricia June 19, 2012 at 7:26 am

I feel the same about the ocean. And about dreams. And strangers when I’m by myself. I love how you tied this all together.
Tricia recently posted..Big girl bed

dearabbyleigh June 19, 2012 at 7:31 am

i needed to read this today, heather. thanks!
dearabbyleigh recently posted..share your table

Kat June 19, 2012 at 8:45 am

Oh the lies we tell ourselves so that we don’t have to be vulnerable, show our “frailties”. We all do it. We all want to be strong and perfect. But showing our flaws makes us even more beautiful, just like this post. I love it.
Thank you. :)
Kat recently posted..Making It Better

nicole June 19, 2012 at 9:07 am

Oh man, this is awesome. I want to know more about your dream. And while our family is not going to do anything big, I think I’ve talked my husband into helping me teach elementary kids all about our faith for the next two years. We haven’t done ministry together in a long time. I’m excited.

I love your words.
nicole recently posted..Being Here

Sidnie June 19, 2012 at 11:12 am

oh, we’re here.
diving head first into those salty waves.
terrifying, yet thrilling.

Sidnie recently posted..other dreams

Stephanie Precourt June 19, 2012 at 12:24 pm

We were just at the ocean, my first time. It wasn’t as big as I imagined…

(Happy 40!)

Stephanie Precourt recently posted..Up In The Air

Alexandra June 19, 2012 at 12:24 pm

God, but I love you.

Yes, me too, to all of this.

Thanks for helping me feel a lot less alone, a lot less misfit.

Thank you.
Alexandra recently posted..List of Summer Fun Ideas For Your Kids by Me

Elaine June 19, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Your perspective on the ocean is extremely interesting to me since I posted last week about how much I have loved it since I was a child and how much I hope to pass that on to my own children. It can definitely be a scary place but to me it is inspiring and peaceful. And part of my childhood. And amazing.

Elaine recently posted..Dad Love

Robin June 19, 2012 at 2:53 pm

I loved how you tied together the familiar and the unfamiliar, fear and being brave enough to take risks – and comparing it all to great expanses of water. I can definitely relate to the feelings you express here (although I almost always opt for safe and familiar). Inspirational…

I grew up near the ocean and lived there for a few years. I am not afraid of it, but I do respect how powerful it is. I find lakes a bit more frightening. I love a swimming pool. Nothing scary swimming there :)
Robin recently posted..Would You Like Your Computer Or Your Smartphone To Determine The State of Your Mental Health?

Karen June 19, 2012 at 5:14 pm

We tell ourselves lies and ruin what could be beautiful memories! I love the thoughts you put in my head with this. :)
Karen recently posted..Grateful

Jill June 19, 2012 at 7:47 pm

“It’s hard to admit things that make a stranger not a stranger and then to wait, for your things to be tossed or taken in.” This vulnerability. Yes, I feel it too, always when I am around “strangers” who I wish to make into friends. Or when I am searching across a sea of strangers for the friend I long to find. Your aching for community that comes up so often in your writing- I am so there. Thanks for putting it into words and making me feel less lonely in it.

Herb of Grace June 19, 2012 at 9:18 pm

I feel exactly the same way about the ocean… I’ve had a love/hate relationship with it my whole life. The bigness, the power, the ceaselessness of it’s pounding– it terrifies me to my very soul. But it’s so beautiful and big and it reminds me of God and it smells so exciting– like adventure and pain and treasure. I can’t NOT go back, but I can hardly stand to watch my children play in the waves, moments from death.


Stephanie Hanes June 19, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Oh my…there is so much wrapped up in this post that I totally get. I am terrified of the “oceans” of change and those huge steps of faith God asks me to take, because, yes, sometimes the hugeness of that “ocean” swallows me whole…but always He keeps asking me to just step out in faith and watch Him do the work in me, as scary and overwhelming as it is. Oh my…I could go on and on. Beautiful words once again, sweet lady.

Kerstin June 19, 2012 at 11:17 pm

I feel the same way about the ocean – it terrifies me. That’s probably why I love the mountains so much. They just don’t seem quite as unpredictable and mysterious.

I very much enjoy reading your blog, appreciate your honesty and candid words.
Kerstin recently posted..Richness

SoberJulie June 20, 2012 at 7:01 pm

This is absolutely beautiful and reminded me why I wish I kept up with Just Write. I love your risk taking venture…
SoberJulie recently posted..Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning

Elizabeth June 21, 2012 at 4:01 pm

it’s so. hard. to confront and recognize and bring into the light those lies we tell ourselves. thankfully there are some darn good therapists (and song lyrics) to help us in our process. xoxo to you,


rebecca @ altared spaces June 23, 2012 at 6:32 am

I’m afraid of joining. I think it’s because I’ve been rejected lots of times. I love to belong.

Tough to belong if you don’t join. Lots like some people’s feelings about oceans. :)
rebecca @ altared spaces recently posted..drive-by reminders of love

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