“Don’t worry. These boats were made to float. Heeling is a normal part of sailing . . .” My husband’s words were intended to comfort, but instead, I was contemplating words echoing from another era . . . “There is no danger that Titanic will sink. The boat is unsinkable and nothing but inconvenience will be suffered by the passengers.”

“Yeah, sure, honey,” I managed to utter through my tightly pursed lips while clinging to the side of the boat trying to act normal. Cheers burst forth from the front of the boat as the other travelers were thrilled to have the boat leaning dangerously on one side, traveling at the higher speed. Oh, how desperately I wanted to be brave. Wished I could let go and relax. But instead, tears rolled down my face and I pleaded with my husband to see if he could slow the boat down.

I felt like a failure, but at that moment my husband looked at me adoringly and smiled. “You did it”, he exclaimed. “I’m so proud of you”. Wait, had I passed out and somehow done something heroic I was not aware of? What did he mean? “Remember when you could not even step on the boat due to motion sickness? Look how far you’ve come!”

Perspective. So often we can look at how far we fall short of where we would like to be, yet don’t realize the distance we have already come. You can’t have victory if you don’t take the first step. And I had taken many steps to acclimate myself to sailing. My husband understands that I struggle to do daring things, but I still do them. It might not look so brave to outsiders, but making myself do hard things that are uncomfortable is ultimately growing me. And one person’s “easy” might be another person’s brave.

We were not meant to measure ourselves by others or even by ourselves. Each one of us is uniquely made in the image of God with our own unique challenges and strengths. And all of life is about becoming more like Christ, overcoming our weaknesses by boasting in them and walking with God through it all. We find victory when we don’t give up. And sometimes we need to pause to see how far we have come and give God the glory. Victory is not in meeting every goal, but in persevering in our quest and not allowing ourselves to be deterred. There are beautiful lessons to be learned when we fall short of our expectation. Even defeat has victory in it when we learn from it and continue to press on.

I may never be a salty sailor. Sounds kind of grumpy if you ask me, anyway. But I can be ok with who I am and laugh at my idiosyncracies, rising all the while to the next level—one step—or one sail at a time.

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