In the soup

After 49 years, I found my thing.

Growing up and living at the ocean, I have body surfed, skin dived, kayaked, sailed, and just about any and everything else having to do with the big blue.  But it wasn’t until 4 years ago that I and that great expanse became one and since then, it’s all been about the board.

The great thing about stand-up paddle boarding is your vantage point.  As you glide high above the surface of the water you are afforded great views of what’s under the surface as well as what’s out in front of you.  I’ve paddled on my Takayama Ali’i II Wolf bought for me on Mission Bay, Trinity Lake, Tahoe,  and all over the Sea of Cortez.  But it doesn’t matter where I’m paddling; as long as I’m on the water, I’m a happy girl.  I’ve seen sharks beneath me, have been followed by sea lions, and have chased dolphins.  Lola loves it too and in carrying her extra 90 pounds, my overall balance has gotten strong.

I started paddling with my pal Holly off the Lawrence Street beach on the backside of Shelter Island.  Like me, she’s fearless, doesn’t care if it’s raining or sunny, and is just as happy going out on a windy day when there’s chop as she is to go out on morning glass.  We even like it when a big wake from a boat hits us because it forces us to get creative in how we’re going to stay upright as we know from experience that even the smallest stirring of the water can throw you in if you’re not on the alert.  As we’ve raced and challenged each other, our power has increased and our balance has gotten rock solid and now, we rarely even get wet.  Secretly, I think we’re a little puffed up about that.

Not long ago though, Holly and I were paddling hard out in the harbor and a speedboat came up from behind, passing us way over to the right.  We accounted for his wake, waved and kept on paddling and talking.  The boat quickly went out of view but a few minutes later, remnants of its wake touched us from behind and bam, I was suddenly overboard.  It was the smallest of ripples but it knocked me over with the strength of a cresting wave.  Major bummer too, as I was fully clothed.

As I pulled my soaking wet, red-faced self back on to my board it occurred to me that in that moment, I was a living metaphor.  I was struck that it’s not the big stuff that most typically tosses me on my butt; no, it’s the little things that throw me off balance and put me into the soup.

Funny how we can flip out when we forget our wallet, lose our keys, or hear we’ve been criticized by a coworker we barely know.  We practically alert the media when our cell phone company messes up our account, we ding our fresh pedicure, a friend cancels at the last minute, our flight’s been delayed, or discover that our bank account is overdrawn.  I’m convinced it’s not the elephants in the living room that typically get us… it’s the ants in the kitchen!

I need to not be a drama mama over little things that ultimately don’t matter.  As Richard Carlson so aptly puts it in his book title of the same name, Don’t sweat the small stuff and (by the way)– it’s all small stuff.  For God’s sake, there are way bigger things to be concerned about.  I want to be consistent and surrendered to the Power that is greater than I, even in little matters.  If I am going to call myself a Christian, then for crying out loud, I’d better live more like I believe it… even with small things.   People watch how we handle what life doles out, large or small, and we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be derailed, uprooted, or thrown overboard by things we’ll forget about by Tuesday.  I, for one, want to handle life with more consistency and grace, aided by the power of my faith and the strength of my tribe, no matter the tiny little ripples that might hit from behind.

“Whoever can be trusted with small things can also be trusted with big things.”
Luke 16:10a ETRV



Sylvia Lange is a Christian women’s speaker from Southern California.

Read Sylvia’s other posts, and LIKE her on Facebook!

86 thoughts on “In the soup”

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  29. Sylvia,
    What a wonderful blog! Thank you so much for sharing and it was great to meet you this morning. I look forward to doing more SUPing with you and getting to know you more!


  30. I tried SUP for the first time at the end of last summer (in Australia) at the age of 52 and it was great fun. Seeing some of my friend’s photos online and now reading this article has really inspired me to get out there and do it again!

  31. I took a workshop on customer service once where the facilitator talked about something he called “precipitating factors.” The idea was that when a customer seemed to get upset with you or was being “difficult,” you needed to remember that you have no idea of what else that person had gone through already that day. Maybe someone had just come from a doctor’s appointment and had bad news, etc.

    I think a lot of times people are working so hard to deal with the big things, that the little things push them over the edge.

    On the other hand, sometimes the little things are just super irritating in the moment. 😉 I agree with you that accepting those irritating moments with grace is a worthy goal!

  32. I am 53 and feel the same way. SUPing is so serene. It gives you a chance to experience life from a different angle, forces you out of your comfort zone, to slow down, and become one with the water. Life can throw you many challenges and it can eat you up, only if you let it. SUPing, for me, takes that away. Sylvia-thank you for putting your thoughts into print. Beautiful.

  33. I was a windsurfer myself when I lived in a place called Georgian Bay. And like you, I was in and out of the water and the surrounding hillsides but when I discovered windsurfing, I was hooked. I was out every night. And it’s the little things that can change direction and take you out beyond your comfort zone as well. A hard wind is easy to control, you just tack back and forth and stay near the shore. But when it’s only a small gentle breeze blowing you, it’s hard to turn, hard to control and you’re at the mercy of the undertow and current. Which can take you miles away from the shore with no way of getting back in.
    Thanks for the insight.

  34. Thank you, Sylvia! As a Stand Up Paddleboarder myself, it’s a great metaphor, indeed, for “don’t sweat the small stuff”. The other thing I always think about as I’m out there on the ocean is how huge and vast it is, and how small I am in comparison. Yet, I always feel like I have a place in it; like I belong somehow, no matter how miniscule I am. This always reminds me that no matter how much is going on in this great, big world – all the pain, suffering, and strife – I am worthy of God’s love, and He is with me, loving me and listening to my prayers. Yes, little ol’ me. It makes me feel awesome!

  35. Ditto on what everyone else has said. I just would have loved to see it! God is so gracious to had humor to His lessons of love, love, love. Bless you. Love this blog.

  36. Sylvia, Another good one! Thanks for the great reminders. I’m a work in progress when it comes to staying calm when life knocks me out of balance.

  37. Good stuff! I love to hear how God keeps teaching you things. In the midst of all your adventures you manage to find the coolest lessons in life and then you cleverly share them … its awesome! I get tickled how much you and Holly love your paddling …what a sweet connection that is for you guys …keep it up Girlies! i love you both! Continue to live life large woman and allow God to shape you along the way!

  38. I have felt overhelmed lately, wanting to support my family who have many needs and struggles and support myself as I go through major transitions in life.
    Elephants and ants can feel the same when we are struggling to feel in control.
    I forget that the Lord is the only source of strength I need to go to. I don’t have to do it all, nor solve everyone’s problems.
    You reminded me that prayer, is what I need more of, to calm myself and find the courage to deal with it all big and little, elephants and ants.
    Great blog Sylvia, thanks for the food for thought, the time to reflect and make the God connections I sometime lose sight of, when my house is full of those challenges, big and small!!!

  39. Thanks, Sylvia. The way you live your life has a way of challenging me and calming me all at the same time. I saw an Anita Renfroe post the other day that said, “When something goes wrong in your life just yell “PLOT TWIST” and move on.” The last few days have been particularly challenging with crazy undiagnosed health issues. I have been yelling PLOT TWIST (with a smile on my face) when they come up knowing that the Creator of the Universe knows everything and has my life in His precious hands! Now, I will see myself yelling PLOT TWIST as I laugh and get back up on the board and paddle. Thanks for the visual! I love you, by the way. 😉

  40. This is good, but what about the elephants? Don’t you think they can interrupt the equilibrium of our lives at least as much as the ants? I’m dealing with a new cancer diagnosis and it’s the biggest elephant I’ve ever had to cope with. Needless to say, I’m in the soup…

    1. Hi Tabitha, I don’t think Sylvia meant to underplay the big stuff in our lives. If you read back on some of her posts you can see she’s acquainted with elephants of her own. I think she only meant to shed light on those times when we allow small stuff to hit us with more force than they deserve. For sure they don’t compare wiht the big stuff your dealing with-God bless you.

    2. Tabitha, I don’t know you, but want to let you know I am praying for you to have peace within the storm. Go ahead walk on water, or in this scenario by Sylvia a paddle board ,while keeping you eyes on Him. The storm outside truly will be much easier to handle, and if it knocks you down a little, His peace will help you get up again. Reach out to your support people too. Take care, Vicki

    3. Hi Tabitha, the elephant you’re facing right now is indeed huge, and enough to knock anyone into the soup. I commit to praying for you through your ordeal!

  41. Wow, that was so well done. I love the paddle boarding metaphor and how you tied it all together so beautifully. Everything you wrote is so true; I really try to live that way, by not sweating the small stuff, and being anxious for nothing, but sometimes it’s so dang hard to do!

  42. Your ripple metaphor reminded me of the current popular phrase, “First World Problems”. Both are a great reminder that we are so easily imbalanced (ha ha, get it?) by such little things. Guilty as charged. But the Word says, be anxious for NOTHING…, not just the big stuff; all of it. I think I’ll be working on that one for the rest of my life. As one who flailed and fell to the ripple less than five minutes into my first SUP experience, this is a great reminder to me.

  43. Sylvia, thank you for your insights! I have not been in the soup yet on my SUP, but I sure have been in life! I love the analogy – and I am really feeling it now, as I seek direction from the Lord..I want to have smooth sailing following Him, but the ripples keep coming in, challenging my balance and direction. Your words are encouragement to find stability at the source!

    1. I am finding that the big waves as well as the ripples send me to Him more often. Thanks for your comment!

  44. As I was reading your blog, I was thinking of a phase that I’ve said many times, “I can throw a great funeral, but it’s the ants that get me!”
    Thank you for being generous with your thoughts.

  45. Amen sister! Though I learn this lesson as a young woman it continually haunts me. The big stuff is a no brainer – I know I can’t those things and typically put my trust in God, but, darn it, let something small get in my way and I’m all over it!! I’m trying and heaven looks better every day!!

  46. Hi Sylvia! This was a message I really needed to hear…or more likely, have reinforced! This summer I tried SUP for the first time…the lady that taught me how to do it, said, “If you feel like you’re losing your balance, go down on your knees.” As I had several instances where I used this advice, I realized that this is what God wants me to do too. Instead of freaking out about everything and anything, I need to drop to my knees when I feel like I’m losing control. As I came to this realization, a peace that passes all understanding enveloped me and I just sat on my board, enjoying his creation and thinking about how God uses everything! I love it! Have a blessed day!

    1. Susan, so true. I freak out too with some things,esp if I feel like I am losing control. I am almost 57 years old and finally learning to “fall on my knees”, not fight the tsunamis, or the ripples. ” If I feel like I’m losing my balance, I will fall on my knees”. thanks for the tip. It beats ” just keep swimming”.

  47. I’m so glad we get your blog notices because you just talk “like it is”. This is another great moment for me on line. I hope you post more.

    1. Thank you for the encouragement to post, Josh. I am still finding my way with blogging and appreciate your cheerleading.

  48. Your blog says so much and so well. I so agree that Gods creation can teach me so much about myself if only I take the time and pay attention…

  49. I love this…brilliant insight! I feel the same way when I am on my SUP, but you put it into words…a great analogy. I’d love to talk to you more about this. That dang board has brought me abundant joy, and taught me to live IN THE MOMENT and to understand the value of that. He is WITH me even “out there” and it increases my faith. Thank you so much!

  50. Your story serves as an even greater example of how we can transform even the most secular activity into a sacred moment. The moment became sacred when you realized that God was teaching you a lesson; or more importantly through the realization: God was with you. We get closer to Him the more we see Him in the everyday,in the mundane. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Ray – indeed we should strive to perceive/experience every moment of life as sacred, with the occasional “secular” moment being the exception rather than the rule.

  51. So true! Like when there is an accident, I deal with the major issues spot on, then when everything is over, I fall apart–shakes, tears, you know the drill. Sometimes we need to remember the verse “Be still and know I am God” through the “the ants in the kitchen” more than “the elephant in the room.” Thanks, as always, for your wonderful writing and giving me the thing I need to read at the very right time.

  52. Amen and thank you for this reminder. Taking these frustrations daily to the throne of Grace allows us to see our King in front of all our “stuff,” big and small, instead of vice versa.

  53. Love this! I usually don’t have time to read blogs, but today I felt compelled to open yours and am so glad I did. What a great reminder to pay attention to those little things that throw us off balance. I can so relate to everything you said and will take it all to heart next time I start to freak out over something insignificant. Thank you!!

  54. I got the point loud and clear. You are so on target every time you open your mouth. Putting it in perspective with the greater things it was and is a small thing. I have determined to turn my focus on some newly acquired friends who I know are having “big time hurts”. I surely know better but need to work on acting better. Thanks for the little jab of reminder.

  55. What great food for thought today as I’m cleaning up after an aging dog. Perspective! Love this reminder. Thanks for sharing the insight God floods you with. I shall chew on it!

  56. Great blog and metaphor. Yep, it is the unexpected – or even inconvenient ripples of life that trip us up (like Windows 8- don’t even get me started)!

    Your “balance” both on your board and more importantly in your PERSPECTIVE about life and following Jesus inspires me.

  57. The elephants in the living room are pretty tough to take too, but you’re right. We melt down over inconsequential things (my husband left his wallet at home this morning) and seem to hold our head up high through something bigger (like cancer, me).
    Youre so fresh. Not many writers just tell it like it is without preaching something that makes us feel less than.

    1. Jennifer, it sounds like you have a hefty elephant in your living room indeed. I will pray for you on that right this minute. Thank you for stopping by.

  58. So true. Its so easy to allow ourselves to get separated from the blessings that God has for us in all our paths in life. He doesn’t promise us that He will be there in only the good times; He says He will be there in everything. With believing and trusting comes the relief in knowing He is there. He is the peace we need in the business of our lives that allows us to have the joy that He wants for us and the strength that it brings to our bodies, heart, and souls. So come on ripples, I’m ready.

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