‘Twas the night before the beach trip and all through the house
No one was sleeping, excepting my spouse.
The children were bouncing on beds full of glee,
“I can’t sleep, I need water, Mom, I have to pee!”
Yes visions of sugar sand danced through their heads,
And great rolling waves knocked them out of their beds
To roll on to the floor and go swimming in sheets,
Mom, I’m gunna surf- swim way out- buy sweet treats!
But up on the island, early the next day,
They stepped off the bus and looked round in dismay
When not a white grain or a wave met their eye
Just miles of mud and a matching grey sky.
Everything in Korea is just a little bit different, from the taste of a Coke to the mindset about toilet paper in public restrooms, and Korea’s beaches are no exception. When I took my children to a nearby island for a day at the shore, they expected white sand for castles and burying each other alive. They got rocks, from tiny pebbles mixed with broken shell all the way up to boulders the size of castle ruins. Where my children expected waves crashing over them, they got a mile of slick, grey mud flat, under an inch of ocean- just enough to tease our toes. It wasn’t a beach where the ocean crashes up against the shore, this was where the ocean came to nap. Where grey sky and grey mud gave it camouflage to silently slide up to the shore and rest, breathing only the tiniest, rippling breaths, hidden from the world that expected it to roar,behind a curving wall of black green mountain. The only thing that crashed down on us was my children’s expectations. Clearly, I had ruined their lives by depriving them of salty foam and every child’s inherent right to a bathing suit full of sand. This beach was not what they had wanted.
And it was perfect. We only made it about half way through the mile long trek across the mud flat before my children discovered crabs. Real live, tiny crabs, all the way up to crabs bigger than my hand with blue claws, and eye stalks that really swiveled to look at you. We were seeing and holding things we had only read about. Soon after we were visited by garden eels, a baby octopus, and an entire civilization of strange, membranous things we have yet to identify. We ran our fingers through a tiny sea anemone, and dug up clams and shrimp. I climbed twenty feet up a cliff, in my sundress, with my camera tied to my bathing suit strap and got completely caught up in our discovery of caves, a crab trap, and real tide pools. David went on a mission to rid the world of barnacles because “They’re just too creepy, Mom!” This beach was filled with amazing things way beyond what had even thought to imagine.
And, then… my children jumped. I can’t even put into words what I was thinking but when four minors, with not yet fully developed risk assessment skills, asked if they could climb a swaying, rusty metal tower 50 feet into the air then put their lives into the hands of a middle aged man who didn’t speak any English I said “sure,” and my children, all the way from 16 and immortal to 6 and unsure each conquered their knocking knees and fluttering stomachs and soared. When I caught up to them back down on the stony sand they were the happiest I’ve ever seen them.
Our beach trip wasn’t what we expected. Honestly, my life isn’t what I expected, not when I think about all the things I should be. But it turned out our beach trip was better than what we thought we wanted and my life is that too- its great and unimaginable. God plans all the best for us. He has been on our side sense He created us, but sometimes we miss it all because we get caught up in our expectations for our lives and for ourselves. God asks that we abandon our expectations. That we leave them like my children left solid ground and safety railings and that we trust only in our identity as His redeemed to carry us along. If being His is enough then He can carry you into adventures better than you could ever ask or imagine. I hope this day of exceeded expectations and of practicing courage prepared my children for the lives God has planned for them. I hope when He calls them to something as terrifying as giving up themselves and trusting in Him alone they will jump with eyes wide open remembering that He always has better planned for them then they could ever imagine for themselves.