Late one night. I recently walked on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean. Just me and my thoughts. And a waterlogged coconut.
I stared at the coconut being pushed back and forth by the ebb and flow of the waves as they crashed on the beach and for some reason, I felt the need to throw the coconut back out to sea. I’m not sure why I thought the coconut needed to go “back out to sea” because coconuts don’t come from the sea. Maybe I just wanted it to be free to bob in the ocean and not rot on the sand. Whatever the reason, I tossed the coconut into the water.
The next wave pushed the coconut back to the sand in front of me. I waited to see if the next wave would carry it back to sea. Nope.
So I gave it a big nudge with my foot. Sort of soccer style.
The next wave pulled it closer to the sea but the next one pushed it back to the sand. And it stayed.
I thought about giving it another shove into the ocean but instead, I continued my walk down the beach, leaving the coconut’s fate to the waves, sand and sea.
On my way back to my hotel, I passed the same coconut in the same place I left it. I resisted the urge to start my game of trying to set the coconut “free” but resisted.
I walked away, again.
And I thought. I thought about things in our lives that are like that coconut. Habits, vices, patterns, emotions or tendencies. We think we have the power to toss them out of our reach but they keep returning. We kick them – hoping the ocean of life will pull them out to sea and we will be free. We strive to push them away – hoping they will stay.
We keep doing the same thing hoping, praying, pleading for different results. Some attribute Albert Einstein with defining insanity as “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Whether he did or not, the sentiment rings true for me.
The real power is in the motion of turning our back on the thing weighing us down emotionally, physically, or spiritually and walking away. And to keep on walking. Don’t stop to pick it up again. Just keep walking.
As I walked away from the coconut on the beach, I thought of the things in my life I keep picking up and the things I need to keep walking away from. Ugh! Not fun but who wants a soggy coconut? Not me!
I know I’m oversimplifying it by saying “just walk away.” I know it’s not that easy. Patterns and habits are hard to break. I know we often need a friend, counselor or support group to help us “walk away.” Sometimes we have to do the work of forgiving and being forgiven. That’s not easy. Or at least it isn’t for me.
They (whoever “they” are) tell us that it takes between 21-30 days to change a habit. In the grand scheme of things, that isn’t a lot of time. 30 days. (See what I did there? I choose the longest time frame because I think that’s what most of us need. 21 days to focus on changing the habit and seven more to let it “set.”)
Back to the coconut… I’ve written before about making changes in our lives (which you can read here) so I won’t belabor the point. You get it, I’m sure.
The best strategy for making a change is to do it with God’s help. That’s my strategy. First God. Then a trusted family member or friend for accountability.
I’m a big “sticky note on the mirror” type of person so here are my favorite “we need to make a change” verses:
I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Ephesians 3:16
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Phil. 4:13
for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
1 Corinthians 2:16
Today’s coconut I need to walk away from…procrastination, so I will close out for now and start marking things off of my “to do” list.
Do you have coconuts you need to walk away from? Or walk away again?
P.S. The next morning on my walk, the coconut was gone.
Your story was a great reminder and encouragement to me. God’s working with me on some of my own issues, and I journaled about them this morning. Your comments were just like a word back to me from Him. Thank you!