Canoes and Kayaks

During one particularly lonely and tear-filled night, my comfort came from an unexpected phrase which kept popping up in my mind.

“Everybody suffers.”

You might be wondering how that is at all comforting. But, to me, it means that life is full of suffering and struggle this side of Heaven. Everyone suffers. Single or married. Parent of ten or childless. Employed or homemaker. Slender or hefty. Beautiful or plain. Rich or poor. That is, there is no marital or parental status, job, beauty, monetary value, or external factor that can make someone happy. We do ourselves a gross injustice when we elevate any of the above categories to instant happiness level. Yes, everyone suffers, but as my dad has always said, every stage of life has drawbacks as well as benefits. So the comforting side of that statement for me became, “Yes, I’m single. I’m a woman. I’ve at times felt overlooked and under appreciated, but not marriage, nor children, nor a job can make me ultimately happy. My job is to accentuate the greenness of my own pasture instead of pining after the unattainable greenness in another’s field.”

Or to put it another way…

orlando grace church IMG 0432 Thoughts on Canoes and Kayaks

Most people live in canoes. They have a co-rower, a committed fellow boater, a spouse. They can rely on each other to steer and power the canoe. Both need to row to keep the boat straight, but they have double the manpower to direct their vessel. Canoes falter when only one person paddles. The boat begins to go in circles, never arriving where it’s headed.

But I don’t live in a canoe.
I am a kayak.

I hold a double-sided oar; I direct the vessel of my life. I am swift, sleek, mobile, and able to maneuver in tight spots that a canoe just can’t. I can change direction quickly without consulting with another person. But I always have to row. No one else is in the kayak with me – it is a one-seater – so if I stop rowing the current soon has it’s way with my vessel.

The analogy breaks down of course, as all do, because I do not live life completely alone. I have loads of fellow kayakers and canoers who are traveling at different speeds down the river of life watching out for me, helping me make decisions, gently directing my kayak away from rocks, waterfalls, and sandbars and pushing me in the right direction.

Not to mention Jesus! I don’t know if He would be the current, or the goal, or the whole river in this analogy, but safe to say He’s there and He’s instrumental in the direction of my kayak, other kayaks, and canoes too!

Kayaks are not better than canoes, they are just different. They’re built for different purposes. Canoes promote cooperation, commitment, stability, and a joint plan. Kayaks are built for independence, quickness, and spontaneity. I’ve decided to embrace my kayak life for now. I will not mope that I have not been given a canoe. I will take advantage of my kayak – it is the only seaworthy vessel I have. I will enjoy the freedom of my kayak and take advantage of it. I will face the rapids with an adventurous spirit. I will show others the beauty of my kayak.  I will cheer my fellow kayakers to do the same. For someday I may very much miss my kayak when I’m in a canoe and the pace alters or when I am rowing in circles because my canoe partner needed a break. I will not pine for a canoe, but I will enjoy the beauty of my canoe with it’s camaraderie and companionship when and if it does arrive.

I will not let others’ opinions affect how I view my kayak. God gave me this kayak and I am meant to care for it, enjoy it, and row with all my might. I will love my kayak.

I am kayak. Hear me roar!

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