Riding the Edge


This year is a big year for my husband, Jose, and I.  After parenting five kids for 26 years, our youngest—twins—have left for college and we have an empty nest. There are no more kids at home to run and fix dinner for, no more watching games on freezing Denver nights, no more school programs to attend, no more tucking everyone in and saying “good night” over and over again. This is the biggest transition of our lives since we had our first baby, and I am definitely swinging between wanting to lay on the floor and cry all day to jumping for joy.

This transition has also caused me to reflect on my life—where I’ve been, where I’m going, what I wish I had done differently, what I can now do differently. Because I’m 51 years old, I no longer have more than half of my life ahead. I am on the downhill, and life feels more precious than ever before, and I don’t want to miss out on trying new things that I might not have another opportunity to try.

During these past few summer months, I have been learning how to wake-foil behind our boat. It is hard to learn! For those of you who have no idea what foiling is, it’s basically a surfboard on a tall metal mast with a foil/fin that rides underneath the water. It means that when you get up on it, you are above the water, gliding, balancing, and slicing through the water with ease. But when you’re learning, it looks like doing whatever possible to not fall off headfirst.

I fell at least 1,000 times while I was learning.  

Yep, 1,000 times.

It looked like this: Get up, fall off the edge, crash into the water, get back up and try again.

However, after all those tries, it started to come together and I was able to get a short ride. Then I got a longer ride, and a little longer one after that. I’m still not at a place where I can completely relax and enjoy the wave like I am able to on the regular surfboard (after years of practice!), but I am beginning to chill out and have a lot more fun.

It’s also made me think a lot about life and how if we’re really living, we’re always riding these kinds of edges—learning, trying, practicing, balancing, falling, failing, flailing, getting back up and trying again.

The edges are where all the action is.

It is, indeed, easier to stay in the boat—safe, dry, comfortable. But safe, dry, comfortable was never the big idea for kingdom living.

I’m not saying that wake-foiling has anything to do with the ways of Jesus, but I do think the process translates to us on so many levels.

Jesus was always about the edges.

Look to the edges and we’ll always see where Jesus pointed and lived, toward the marginalized, the outcasts, the lepers, the losers in religion’s eyes. He told us over and over again that the comforts of religion and staying safely in our own boat was never the idea. It seems to me that raw, in-the-trenches, and on-the-edge living was what God always had in mind for his followers. That embodied practice was more important than belief stuck in our heads. That part of living out the ways of Jesus would mean that we’d fall, flail, and fail instead of watching safely from the sidelines.

The important part to remember, though, is that all of our edges are different.

We often measure what’s valuable, important, “spiritual” against a very unhealthy standard. This means we end up thinking we’re somehow less than others who are doing things we think are “big” or “brave” or “godly” instead of considering what God is uniquely stirring up in us individually.

It means we dismiss our dreams or the nudging in our heart, thinking they are either impossible to do or not important enough.

I also think it’s critical to remember that for some of us, the edge God might be calling us to is actually to pull back from the edge for a while. Sometimes we need to take time to rest, to say “no” to good work in an effort to work on our mental, physical, and spiritual health. That is sometimes the most brave thing we can do.

For others, we’ve been riding in the middle for a long time, and we need to nudge ourselves toward a new edge and enter into uncharted territory. It’s time to make ourselves more vulnerable in relationship with others or serving in a new way, connecting with an old dream and bringing it to fruition.

We’re all different, but I think the question for all of us is the same: What is stirring up inside of us that we need to try?

What is holding us back?

Is it fear of failing, falling, flailing?

Is it the limitation of physical or mental health?

Is it the reality of a certain life stage—little kids or aging parents?

Is it insecurity and shame?

These things are all real and shouldn’t be dismissed. But my challenge to myself and to all of us is to consider—What would it look like to move toward a new edge in this next season?

To reach out to others in a new way.

To advocate for justice more courageously.

To try something we’ve been wanting to try.

To learn something we’ve been wanting to learn.

To risk something we’re afraid to risk.

To go where Jesus seemed to always go.

To ride a new edge.

We’re sure to fall. We’re sure to hurt. We’re sure to embarrass ourselves.

But it’s also where we learn the most.