Making Progress in Neutral
"I have learned that faith means trusting in advance what will only make sense in reverse." Phillip Yancey from Disappointment with God
I’m sitting at Deluna’s Cafe' just at the edge of Stock Island Marina Village. My hair whips west, the windstorm’s long fingers blowing past the temporary plastic tarp protection tied to the walls.
Christie, one of the owners, makes her rounds to each table, engaging each customer with her friendly, “Is everything good? What can I get you?”
She is a sixth generation Key Wester — the first “homegrown local” we’ve met during our unexpectedly lengthy stay here — and I’m grateful for her neighborly hospitality.
Watching her work so hard — simultaneously taking orders, counting change, making coffees, running credit cards, all while fluidly and flawlessly switching from Spanish to English and back again while chatting up customers — is pure entertainment. Happily and masterfully, she dances through her day. It’s a beautiful thing, seeing a person energized by her work, in her work, through her work.
I envy this space she’s in, this purpose she’s professing.
Because here we are, a full week into March, still tightly dock-tied, overhauling our engines, weathering another windstorm, waiting in a much longer-than-anticipated line for important boat refits, yearning desperately to move forward but floating here in place: still. static. stuck.
Motionless in a marina is certainly not the tale we envisioned we’d be telling at this point in our carefully crafted timeline. When we sold our home and our cars and all. the. things., our hope was to posture ourselves so God could work through us; however, it seems that God is taking this time to work in us instead.
Exactly what work He’s doing in us won’t be clear for a while yet, but for sure, we are learning a mite bit more about patience than we anticipated. (THAT'S always fun.)
Author Dr. David Jeremiah says that “patience is not a passive term but an active one. It is not a resignation to whatever happens but a strong and tough resolution in the midst of [unfortunate] circumstances.”
Practicing patience for us includes resolving to move through this crippling apprehension born out of a confidence cut in half by a week of sailing lessons that (unfortunately) focused more on salvaging our sails, securing our swamped dinghy & dangerously swinging outboard, and dismantling malfunctioning heads rather than on practicing the basics such as navigating and anchoring and docking.
We want to get out onto the big blue, but our skills haven’t quite caught up to the dream, you know? So we’re learning to be patient with ourselves as we move headlong into one of the steepest learning curves our lives.
And instead of belly-aching about being grounded here in a marina, we determine to see obstacles as opportunities, scratched plans as promising possibilities. We’re understanding that patience must be practiced not begrudgingly, but joyfully.
In fact, our arrival here in this place during these precise dates for this length of time has afforded us the privilege of new friendships forged, broken-down engines overhauled, gale-force winds weathered, and a little sailing experience secured. We’ve traveled to the reef and back, done a tiny bit of snorkeling, inventoried the contents of every locker (the previous owners left a LOT of spare parts and tools and cleansers and insect repellents and MORE), explored the streets of Key West, and purged our possessions (again!).
While rummaging through every corner of our boat, we found a binder full of sailing plans — written a year or so ago — that included a timeline of where we hoped we’d be by the third month of boat ownership. Let’s just say we laughed. Hard. Which tells you that our demeanor is on the upswing, LOL!
We’re going be here in the marina a few more weeks before we begin a sail from the Keys up to Fort Lauderdale. Even though it’ll be a while before I capture that magical sense of purpose that Christie displays in her work, I can rest assured that there is much progress to be made here, in neutral.