Lies aren’t always blatant. In fact, they almost never are. What would the point be if everyone knew that it was a lie? I don’t think any of us realize how many lies we tell each other and how many we tell ourselves. How much of our lives are built on lies?
I don’t remember the first lie that I was ever told. Perhaps it was about Santa or about who was the cutest baby. Regardless, I was pretty young. But are lies supposed to hurt us every time? What about those little white lies that don’t hurt anyone? But what does this have to do with my story?
My story began based on lies. All of our stories started based on one lie. “Don’t worry about it. I’m sure it will be fine.” Had Eve listened to that little voice that I know was screaming in her head, would we be in the situation we are today? I don’t know. But that isn’t where my story will pick up. My story starts with a little girl, no older than seven, nose buried in a book, ignoring the world. I was great at ignoring the world. I didn’t get involved. I stayed in my little boat and didn’t rock anybody else’s. I was a good little church girl who didn’t bother anyone but herself. I knew to mind my P’s and Q’s and my boat stayed on a pretty even keel. I was completely happy with where I was.
Around that age I came to accept that there was someone else on my boat. Jesus was on my boat. And why wouldn’t he be. He was my boss after all, and at the ripe old age of seven, I took what my boss told me very seriously. I wanted to do what he asked and I wanted to do what was right. Me and Jesus were gonna conquer the world. Just you wait and see.
Flash forward a few years and there I am, thirteen, a little stronger, much more strong headed, and absolutely certain that there were no other boats that could ever understand what my boat was going through. I was in a solitary ocean of my own making. I hit a few rocks and sandbars but I only rocked a little bit. No scars, no scratches, I was fine, my boat was fine, no thanks to you. Leave me and my boat alone. At this age I was starting to realize who I was. I was spending too much time with myself and I was starting to dislike who I was sharing my boat with: the ugly side of me.
I liked to think of myself as perfect; the same little girl who accepted Jesus onto her boat at a young age but somewhere between that little girl and the girl I had become something had changed. I couldn’t see Jesus in my boat as much as I did when I was a child. A fog had filtered in over my ocean. And it wasn’t my fault. Why would it be my fault? How dare you tell me that it is my fault? Jesus is in my boat and that’s all that matters, right? He didn’t need to see everything that I was doing. I was a good little Christian most of the time and percentages are what count right? Our world runs on numbers. Mine weren’t the best but I sure had seen some other people who had done worse than me. And I was very willing to point them out. Any time that you needed a name, I was your go to gal. All that time spent people watching from my seven year old boat was finally paying off.
Jump forward a couple years. At fifteen, the paint was starting to chip off my boat but the chip on my shoulder wasn’t getting any smaller. I was all alone, but I was going to take on the world. I didn’t need Jesus in my everyday life. When something bad happened, when I ran aground or I hit a rock, I always just asked him to help my get out and he did. That’s what he is there for right? I functioned perfectly well on my own but when I got into a major scrape, I could call him. Isn’t that the point of Jesus? He stayed in his side of the boat and I stayed in mine. We worked perfectly together. That Christianity thing wasn’t so hard. So long as no one knew what I thought or did while I was by myself, I was ok right? Jesus doesn’t care that I talked about that girl behind her back right? Or that I told my mom that practice was going to run long so I could spend time at my best friend’s house? Jesus doesn’t care about that little stuff. And if he does, who cares? Not me. I was perfectly happy over here by myself. I was the one keeping this boat afloat. I would be fine by myself. I don’t need anyone. I was just fine.
The ragtag boat that I was floating in at the age of seventeen was not seaworthy, I had slapped a new coat of paint on it and, outwardly, my boat looked great. My life looked great. I was a straight A student, top of my class, had a semi-lucrative business on the side, along with working during the summers for my parents. I was making a name for myself in my tiny town and before too long I was going to blow out of there and head straight to the city. Look out Boston, New York, or Chicago here I come. But my boat had holes. I was using everything from a shoe to my bare hands to keep the water from filling my boat. My life was great but wasn’t going anywhere. I had all the signs of success but I wasn’t happy. And Jesus, he had just kinda slipped out of my boat. I don’t know where I lost him. Ever so often I would think that I saw a glimmer of him through the mist but I was too busy to actively look for him. I had too many things to do.
If I was too busy to pay attention to Jesus, I was way too busy to actually pay attention to where my boat was going. At the age of seventeen, I was blindsided. My boat was torn down to nothing. It wasn’t a boat anymore, it was just a mess of boards that the EPA was gonna be ticked about.
I was choking on seawater, clutching a board, trying to stay afloat. I didn’t know what to do. I was so lost. But in my pride I wouldn’t accept help. Jesus came by in a brand new boat and offered it to me but I was so angry at him. How dare he allow that to happen to me? Where was he when all that happened? He didn’t care about me and I wasn’t going to accept anything that he gave me. I was going to make do with what I had. I took two pieces of the boat and roped them together. I didn’t need a boat, I just needed a raft. I sat on the raft, hair matted with salt, eyes red from crying, shaking so hard I could hardly see, but still struggling to keep up the front that I had been maintaining my whole life. I stared straight ahead and continued on with my life. I didn’t need anything that anyone was offering me, and why would they offer it in the first place. As far as anyone knew, nothing had happened.
Time passed and I began piecing my boat back together. Every time a wind came through, however, pieces would start falling off and I would scramble to keep my life together. After a few months of that I was done. I was done with life and I wasn’t going to go on. I laid down on my raft, clothes soaking, my body wracked with shivers that I couldn’t control. I was prepared to go. It wasn’t worth living anymore and it was all God’s fault. If he had just been there… If he had actually cared about me… If I had a loving God…. well, that would be different.
There I lay, alone on my raft, sobbing, screaming at God for what he had done to me. How dare he do this to me? How dare he? Then in the calm after the storm, In the quiet of my despair, I saw him. I saw him for the first time in a long time. He had never left. He had been beside me the whole time. In the freezing waters, on the salt-crusted raft, through the storms and the waves, He had felt my heartache and had hurt right along with me. I hadn’t been abandoned. The creator of the universe and my personal Savior stepped down from his throne to meet me right where I was, bloody and broken, nothing but the shell of the woman he created me to be.
I changed that day. It has been three years since my world changed forever and I have struggled. I have lost my footing and I have watched the holes in my boat grow wider every day. But I have a carpenter in my boat. I have the Healer of all hurts and someone who loves me more than life itself.
I’m not perfect. My boat isn’t fixed. I don’t have a yacht by any stretch of the imagination. I have a dingy and trust me it’s…well… dingy. But it’s not my boat anymore. Well, not totally mine. It is God’s boat and I’m boating with Jesus. He is steering and I’m just along for the ride. And yes, I do take the wheel sometimes when I see things starting to get bad. And yes, I always make it worse. But I know that he is in my boat. I know that he will always be there when I ask him to take back over. I have a God who cares. I have a God who is there. I have a God who loves me. And so it doesn’t matter what boat I have. It matters who’s in it.