A Sarine Thought… or Two
Two in the Canoe
I LOVE “love!” To me, it is paramount to all other emotions. No matter what I am feeling, love either makes things better, or takes the sting away, making struggles a little easier to experience. I have been loved, and have loved, in so many ways: as a daughter, as a mother, as a friend, as a teammate, as a sister, as a cousin, as an aunt and as a niece. But the love I love most dearly is that I have experienced as a wife. Words cannot adequately express the joy with which the Lord has blessed me through my marriage. My husband Ross is truly a gift to me.
Are there times where one of us wants to head-butt the other because one of us does something crazy-ridiculous? Of course! But most of the time on the river of life, we are moving forward together in harmony.
A few years ago, Ross and I were teachers in our church’s College and Career class (Lord, please bless the souls who sat under our teaching!). This is such a fun age group to engage. They try to act aloof, as if they have it all together, but with the reality of adulthood looming, they are actually not opposed to listening to good advice. Now, whether they will follow the advice is not always guaranteed, but they have moved past the point of eye-rolling and heavy sighing in conversations with older adults. Over the course of our time teaching this class, I developed a relationship analogy involving fresh-water vehicles on the river of life that many found humorous, though pretty accurate for romantic relationships. As a gift to all of you this Valentine’s season, I want to share the “Two in the Canoe” philosophy of love.
First Things First…
Let us start from the beginning, or in this case, the time in young adulthood when one is no longer under the care of parents. This super-fun single life is represented by the one-man kayak. You are now floating on your own with no strings attached. You are deciding for yourself in terms of what to do, where to go, when to go and how you get there. Decisions are made during this time, which will solidify or alter the dreams and desires of the one holding the paddle.
This is also the time when it is completely acceptable to pull up to the party barge of friendship and dating. You can tie your one-seater to the big boat and go mingle! Encourage friends in their journeys and receive the same in return. The time as a single is meant to be a time spent with friends. It is also a time to see if any friends of the opposite sex are ones to which you might choose to tether your kayak and ride together in tandem for a while. There is definitely an exclusive link in the dating relationship, but the line between the two boats can still be cut or untied easily. While one might feel as though they are floating adrift without the extra weight of the other, it is not as hard to man your own kayak again once your heart (or pride) heals from the experience. Depending on the person, there may be many of these tandem jaunts alongside a number of kayaks, or there may be just a few before you find the one with whom you upgrade to the canoe.
A Few Key Rules for The Canoe
The canoe symbolizes the marriage relationship. The change from kayak to canoe is big, and it is not meant to be jumped into all willy-nilly. There are rules for the canoe.
Rule 1: There are only two in the canoe.
Only spouses are allowed in the canoe at any-and-all times. If more than two people are in the canoe, the balance is compromised, and like it or not, everyone goes under. This not only applies to other adults, which is always a no-no, but it applies to children as well. Children of all ages belong in their own kayaks. In the beginning, very young children are bound tightly to the parents. There is hardly any space between kayak and canoe. As children grow, however, and begin doing things on their own, like bathing, feeding themselves and thinking coherent thoughts, slack can be added to the rope and space created. The more they mature, the more slack can be let out. When they royally screw it up, the slack is taken back in for a time. Everyone is still moving in the same direction, but those in the canoe are the only ones working together to drive the party. Kayaks are never in front of the canoe.
Rule 2: While in the canoe, lines of communication must be open at all times.
Heaven help us when this rule is broken! If the communication between paddlers gets cut off, the canoe can go nowhere. When paddlers do not work together, the canoe just goes around and around, and everyone gets seasick! The paddlers must talk and work together for the canoe to move toward the desired destination. Canoe occupants must remember that each paddler has a unique perspective as they are in different positions in the boat. While both generally see the same things, they are seeing them from slightly different angles. All views must be communicated clearly and kindly to achieve a pleasurable and effective journey.
Be careful to note there are many forms of communication that must take place within the confines of the canoe. All communication should be shared between canoers according to mutually agreeable terms and time. Some forms of communication may be emotional, verbal, physical or any combination thereof. Canoers must understand that one form of communication is not paramount to another. All are equally necessary.
Rule 3: Paddles are not weapons.
Paddles represent communication tools like words and touch. This one is vital for the safety of all passengers, including tandem kayakers. Canoers cannot go around whacking each other with paddles or swinging their paddles haphazardly without severe consequences. Paddles are tools and should only be used for: (a) moving the canoe to a mutually agreed location; (b) turning the canoe away from danger or navigating to a new, more appropriate location; and (c) protecting canoers from predators and harm. Paddles are never meant to be used against your fellow canoer.
By now, you may notice I enjoy taking analogies to great lengths to paint vivid pictures of the way I see things. Some may see this as me being dramatic. I see this as me being inspiringly creative and enthusiastic! I hope this little word picture has inspired you in this season of romantic things. While this may be a more practical message, it is a necessary one, because without tending to the practical things, the romantic things do not last.
Another thing I would share, in all sincerity: choose your canoe partner wisely, and treat them well, even when you do not feel like it. Now that I have been in the canoe with Ross for over 17 years, I can see more and more each day that I made a good choice in my rowing partner. He is kind, loyal, loving, godly, honest, wise, funny, easygoing and devastatingly handsome. He listens to my thoughts and opinions (he sure has good ears, because I have A LOT of thoughts and opinions!). He encourages me when I need to be encouraged, and he lets me know when I am about to do something I will regret. In short, he is my ideal mate. Because I chose well, I get to reap both the practical and romantic benefits of our journey in the canoe.
Before we ever boarded the canoe, each of us cast our lead lines to Jesus Christ as our Savior. This decision has relieved so much pressure from us. It allows us to know, even if we get things totally screwed up, the Captain of our lives will calm the surrounding waters and He will positively reset our course.
Friends, whether you are in a kayak or a canoe, enjoy the boat you are in while you are in it, and have the best Valentine’s Day ever!