Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Surfing Lessons #6

OK, so it's time to get off of my butt and start blogging again. This blog thing is sort of like going to the gym...if you take a break, it's hard to get motivated to start again! Also, being the surf addict that I am, it's hard to get anything done when the surf is good. And good it was today!

For fear of my life (literally), I'm not going to give out too much information about the point break where we surf, other than to say that it is world-class. It rivals almost any wave anywhere, and there are some world-class surfers that call our town home because of it. To keep the crowds down, there are also some world-class psychos who police the lineup and the parking lot to make sure that no one who they don't know will even attempt to surf their wave. Localism is an issue the world over in surfing, but here it is taken to a whole new level. It took me a few years of verbal abuse (luckily I am a pretty big dude with a very easy-going personality, so the abuse never turned physical, as it has for some) to reach the point where I am accepted out there. Persistence pays off! Everyone knows that Camille is my wife, so she's accepted too!

Some would ask why we even bother to become 'accepted' at such a hard-core surf break when there are several other breaks in the area, some even at the same parking lot, where good surf can be found. The truth is that we do surf a lot of those other spots often as well. I guess the answer is really quite simple. If your imaginary rich uncle drove a brand new Ferrari down your driveway, tossed you the keys and the title and told you that the insurance was paid up indefinitely, I suppose you could continue to drive your 1989 Ford Fiesta. But why? You own a freekin' Ferrari! I guess you could get a bowl of oatmeal instead of the eggs benedict at the all-you-can-eat brunch buffet, but again - why? Our point break is world-class. When it is 'working', just one wave out there is better than ten waves anywhere else. It is truly worth all of the 'dues' that come with being able to enjoy it. Every time I surf the point, I come away ultra stoked.

There's another reason why I never gave up in my quest to be able to surf our point break 'un-hassled'. There have been days in the past when I literally wanted to kill some of the locals who dish up the smack out there. More often than not, my hostility has been brought on by what they are doing to someone else, not myself. Somewhere along the way, though (I can't really point to exactly where) REALITY smacked me upside the head. As messed-up, drugged-up, mean, nasty, heartless and sometimes just plain evil as some of those guys are...they are children of God. That makes them my brothers. As that reality started to grow within me, I found my hostility towards them melting away, replaced by a God-given love and burden for them. Not surprisingly, it wasn't long after this that I started making friends with some of the most 'hard-core' of them.

Today, I am on friendly terms with all of the 'heavies' and can honestly say that I love them with the love of Christ. If for no other reason than that, it has been worth the hassling and abuse that it cost me to be able to surf in peace out at the point. The stories of some of these dude's lives would bring a tear to even the most jaded among us. We're talking abuse, broken families, serious drug use and addiction, suicides, overdoses, spiritual oppression, criminal activity and just plain loneliness and hopelessness. Some surfers around here would say that they get what they deserve. Well, as God started to show me how much He loves these broken people, I became thankful that He doesn't give me what I deserve. Instead of hating them, I started praying for them. Let me tell you, if you haven't tried it - it's pretty darn hard to dislike someone for whom you are praying!

One day last summer, one of them intentionally overdosed on heroin and killed himself. He left a note and a very hurting family. His older brother is one of the best surfers in the area and one of the 'heavies' out at the point. He also lived on my street. Over the course of the year I had become pretty friendly with him. The day of his brother's memorial service, he came over to my house and did something that I would never expect from such a 'tough guy'. With tears in his eyes, he told me that he was going to be gone for a while, told me that I was a great guy and gave me a big hug. That may not seem like much, but in an environment where the smallest sign of weakness will be pounced-upon, his words and actions spoke volumes. And right then I knew that my prayers were starting to 'get through' and that God may just have placed me here for 'such a time as this'.

Yes, I love to surf our point. But more and more, I am learning to love some of the more 'unsavory characters' who surf our point. Often times, the stoke that I get from the waves out there lasts for days. However, the stoke that I have gotten from experiences like the one with my hurting neighbor never goes away. To be able to be God's arms or hands or voice to someone who is needing to feel His love gives you a better feeling than any wave can. I truly believe that God has plans for some of the surfers in our town and that He has allowed me to become friends with some of them to help accomplish His purposes.

I guess that if there is a reason for my sharing all of this with you, it would be to encourage you to pray for those who 'persecute' you. It is so much easier to get mad at them and hate them. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty glad that Jesus didn't get mad at the people who persecuted Him. He showed us the ultimate example of God's love. Instead of hating them, he died for them. I'm fairly sure that I'm not going to be dying for anyone any time soon, but I'm not Jesus. He died so we don't have to. What I can do is try to show His love to as many others as possible in hopes that they too will meet Him. I hope that you too can experience the stoke that comes from pointing a fellow child of God toward Him, no matter how much you may just want to kick their butt!

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