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Keeping the joy in life

Keeping the joy in life

Keeping the joy in life

24 January 2022

Sea, sand, and fun on a summer’s day for Belinda and her son.

By Belinda Davis

When I was young, I loved spending time at the beach. Splashing about in the water and jumping waves were a favourite pastime for my sisters and me.

Over time that changed. As a mum, whenever my family spent a day at the beach, I would set up the beach tent and stay there while the others went swimming.

So, on a visit to the beach several years ago, that’s what I did – we set up the tent, and while my son and husband had a great time on the foreshore, I sat there reading a book.

As we were packing up to go home, my son asked, “Mum, why didn’t you join in with us?”

“I really like watching other people having fun at the beach,” I replied.

The look on his face was priceless. It stopped me in my tracks and made me really think about that pat answer I’d given him. It didn’t make much sense. Why on earth would I think it’s more fun to sit and watch others enjoying what I used to love doing? Why not just join in the fun?

Eventually, I worked it out. You see, after three children and a love of chocolate bordering on addiction, I no longer possess the same shape I had in my youth. I was embarrassed to be seen in public in anything less than jeans and a shirt.

Somehow, almost without realising it, I had allowed my perception of what others might think of me rob me of fun with my family on the beach. As if anyone would care what I looked like in bathers as I splashed about! And even if they did, what does that matter? What matters is the interaction with those I love and care for.

On our next beach day, I went prepared to venture onto the foreshore, possibly even to let the waves wash over my feet. When I left our beach tent in my bathers, there was no collective gasp of horror from the beachgoers. Small children didn’t run away in fear, and people didn’t point and laugh.

What did happen, though, was a huge grin from my little boy when I answered ‘Yes!’ when he asked if I was really coming to play.

We stood in the shallows. We started jumping waves that splashed over our shins. Then we went deeper and deeper, and soon he was on my back as I was jumping waves for the two of us. That hour spent together was pure delight as I built fun memories for him and re-lived some of my own.

What have I learnt? Don’t let the perceived opinions of others, strangers or otherwise, rob you of the joy you can have in life. Jesus came to give us life to the full. (John 10 verse 10). Embrace the opportunities as they come your way. Life is too short not to enjoy jumping waves on the beach.

Belinda Davis is a Salvation Army officer in South Australia.

 

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