Adapted from my journal, written in Gulf Shores, Alabama
I’ve gone to many places where I feel hopelessly alone, a speck among the masses of life. I always feel bitterly afraid and angry, wishing there was something more, something real. And here I feel alone, but in a different way. The power in the ocean’s ability to wash away thousands of footprints in one long swipe at the shore makes me feel small. But the peace here forgives my insignificance and powerlessness. It helps me forget deadlines, pressures, insecurities, angers, and anxieties. It cleanses my soul.
When I go down to the green and blue waters, to the sea grasses and soft sands, I am in the presence of God’s majesty. I am awestruck by the glory and beauty of this place and the mind that created it. When I see the ocean as God’s handiwork, I simply cannot feel alone and lost and left behind.
During the last three years, I’ve truly grown up. The things inside me that were too difficult for me to handle were put into God’s hands, and he worked through them. My best friend’s moving felt like a death. My transition from parochial to public school was terrifying. My attitude toward cliques was inexcusable, and my idealist thinking was naïve. Now I’ve changed. I’ve lived through heartache, worked through difficult relationships, and tried to become more open-minded. I’ve gained a personal relationship with the Lord. I’m even starting to like myself.
Even though I’ve grown up, I haven’t fully matured. I recently read a story about a young lady who had a collection of her grandmother’s old hats, and she spent an afternoon imagining her grandmother as a girl in the hats. She wondered if her grandmother asked questions like, “Who am I? What am I going to do? Where will I go? Who will I marry? What will my life be like?” The granddaughter realized those questions of an impatient young woman could only be answered by living out many years of life one by one, guided by God.
As I look around this beautiful place, I ask those same questions of myself and of God. It is difficult to know whether I’m curiously wondering or selfishly planning. I tell God I want to go through with my school plans, that I want new friends and a boyfriend, that I know who I want to be. I’m starting to see I am an impatient young woman with impatient questions. The answers lie at the end of a long, God-fulfilling life. It’s very hard to wait—these are such big issues. But I know that God has the best in store for me. He knows what will happen in the next two minutes, tomorrow, and thirty years from today. When I consider his omniscience, how can I not trust him?
However, it’s easy to fall in love with the ocean and want to be in love while you’re here. It’s sort of bittersweet here without someone who knows me. It’s hard not to wish for The One, the person I’ll spend my life with, and wonder where he is and if he will understand me. It’s hard not to think about him now, even though there’s so much more of a person for me to become before I meet him. I know God loves me and has it all figured out, and I just need to trust him.
At the beach I’m the real me, the person I’d most like to be. That’s why I love it here so much, because I’m free to be the real me here.