I am trying to cultivate a generation of young women who believe in themselves and who God created them to be.
It is beautiful. It is fulfilling. It is not easy.
One of the most wonderful surprises in life is stumbling upon a scene soaked in beauty, dripping with the heart and grace of God when you least expect it. Recently, I joined Daniël at the beach near our house to watch him surf. What I thought would be a normal afternoon at the beach became a few hours that will remain with me forever.
When we walked down to the shore we came upon a group of people in wheelchairs sitting on the sand. It didn’t take long to see that these people weren’t there to just watch and enjoy the ocean. They were there to surf, too. There were numerous people in wheelchairs, and a team of people there to facilitate the surfing. One by one, these men and women were outfitted by the team to get their wetsuits on. One by one, a team member carried each individual on their back out to the waves.
One of the men crawls on his hands and knees out to the waves while a young man carries his board behind him, and I am overcome.
One of the team members lifts a young man with a blonde topknot who looks about my age onto his back, while another brings out his red board. They place him in the water with his board and give him his double-sided oar. The man begins to paddle out, headed valiantly toward the waves. The swell rushes in quickly and crashes into him, immediately flipping him over. My heart races until I see his head pop out of the water and I watch as he pulls himself back onto his board, pulling his legs back into place one at a time with his arms. He begins to paddle out again and is taken out by another wave.
He struggles to get past the break. It happens a third time. He flips his board over and pulls himself back on with all his might, again and again. And then I witness him make it past the break and out to the surf. You should have seen him flying down the waves.
I watch each of these individuals out in the water, battling and gritting their teeth and fighting past the break again and again against all odds. After an hour of watching this scene soaked with beauty, I wipe tears that fall behind my sunglasses as I watch them take the brushes of their lives and paint a picture of what resilience and determination look like for us all.
God knows I needed to witness this. Because there are days when this call - this difficult work of helping women to see their value, their dignity, of empowering them to make decisions that will set them free in a world that offers them chains, of equipping them to live authentic and beautiful femininity - feels like an impossibility. Teen Vogue...Cosmopolitan...Snapchat...Celebrities and YouTubers...Man-hating feminism...a culture that tells them there’s no difference between getting an abortion and going to the dentist...it’s all just “healthcare.” All day long this culture speaks lies to young women, and millions of them. My board is flipped over constantly. I, admittedly, have cried over their power. I have sobbed at our dinner table feeling overwhelmed and helpless, while my steady heartbeat of a husband sits close and reassures. And in this moment, my heart is imprinted with an image I will think of again and again.
It is an image of a young man with a blonde topknot on a red board who does not give up, who does not let anything get in the way of his mission and his passion. He goes back out again and again because he remembers that feeling of flying down the waves. And this is an illustration for us all - a man who may have likely been told, “You can’t,” “That will be impossible,” “It’s not worth trying” - who pushes through and says with his life as he flies jubilantly down a wave...“Yes. I. can.”
The world is cold and dark and disheartening and our sick culture is as loud as ever but the wheelchairs next to me sit empty. And this young man doesn’t know my name and doesn't say a word to me but speaks to me as directly as anyone ever has..
Do not give up. Don’t you dare give up, Emily. Tuck this into your heart and remember this for all time...this is what it looks like to keep your heart up and fight on.