Went on a girls’ beach trip this summer with some friends to beautiful Orange Beach, Alabama. The water was the perfect shade of blue-green, the sand pristine white, the sunrises vibrant orange, yellow and pink.
breathtaking.. the beach never disappoints!
My favorite time on the beach is early morning before the world wakes. The ocean waves, birds, and, if you are lucky enough to spot them, dolphins welcome you into each day at the beach as the sun begins its ascension, transforming the sky into a canvas of color that is never the same with each morning rise. The fireball peeks between the buildings, rising faster and faster up into the morning sky right before your eyes. It really is quite magical!
The girlfriend, who invited me, purchased some waterfront beach chairs with an umbrella for the week. Thank goodness because this white girl turns pretty pink, pretty quick. One morning, with coffee cup in hand, I traipsed out to our reserved chairs to enjoy the morning’s arrival and noticed a stranger in my space. Shoot!! Didn’t he know these chairs were reserved. Not sure what to do, do I move closer and claim my seat or do I find another space to sit? “Inconvenience!”
My very outgoing, biggest heart, love every stranger kind of friend wasn’t too far behind so I stopped and looked back at her with questioning eyes – what should we do? And what I received back from her through the glance of our eyes made me laugh out loud! Like a puppy excited to see its owner return home, this amazing friend lit up and moved in. “Opportunity!” she said.
And there it was – in two simple words – the difference between my experience in that moment and hers!
Inconvenience versus Opportunity
It really is the loveliest of stories – we visited with this man for about 20 minutes and found out that he was on a quick get away with his family that had been planned but hard to come because two weeks prior to this beach getaway he lost his big brother, his best friend to a massive, unexpected heart attack and he was heart broken over his loss. We got to love on him, and pray for him – it was the sweetest of divine appointments. And in my “inconvenienced” mindset I almost missed it. I would have missed it had it not been for my “opportunistic” friend!
I hate to admit it but I tend to live life MORE this way than I care to say. And what do I miss as a result? SO MUCH I do believe. In my concern to stay small, insulated, close I miss opportunities to move in and expand my tent pegs.
I sat that morning after our divine visit thinking about the why behind this way – my history explains most of it – a story colored with past rejection, fear, insecurity, not belonging, jealousy, betrayal, misunderstanding. It’s all there in my history, but our history doesn’t have to be the foundation for our future. I can move pretty quickly to shame and self hatred, I have had years of practice and have mastered this art of self abuse – I initially wanted to compare and hate myself for my reaction but instead suspended and delighted in my friend’s reaction as the lesson to be learned.
What a beautiful OPPORTUNITY to experience. To live life with arms wide open, seeing others, welcoming them in and inviting them to be known. I want to be more like that! It is the loveliest and one of my most favorite qualities about this friend. I recognize that I do offer this – but it is on my time, in my way, very controlled and orchestrated – not wild and free and flowing! I want to free flow in this quality and invite in the opportunities that present themselves to me in each moment offered. I can do this with earth songs – a breeze, a bumblebee, a sunrise – I can pause, open my heart and receive the divinity in each moment – but I don’t pause the same with people that come across my path – the waiter, the store owner, the stranger.
How might days be different if I could stop and see each of these as a divine offer…..
and recognize the wonder as I do with a beach sunrise?!
Every year for Christmas we each give Jesus a birthday gift – something that we choose to work on for the year to develop Christlike character and be more like Him as the year progresses. This is going to be my birthday gift to Jesus for 2021 – to flip this mindset – those moments and people that in the busyness of my life that have felt initially like an inconvenience — flip it — see as opportunity; an opportunity to slow, invite and recognize the wonder right before my eyes! AND I choose to start NOW and not wait until December…I think I will probably need the extra few months to perfect this one! 🙂 (thank you Jeanne, i love you)