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  • Writer's pictureJubilee Lipsey

Surfing the Impact Zone

Full disclosure (as the influencers say), I've been close to giving up lately.

Not on living...just living with purpose as a writer, teacher, daughter of God, believing it all matters.

While claiming to despise the concept, I've actually allowed myself to drift out into that tricky undertow known as "quiet quitting"--that place where you're not really trying anymore, though you might not be complaining out loud. Even though most people wouldn't notice there's a storm brewing on your horizon, you can feel it surging through the water.

While self-publishing is a wonderful tool that gives fresh, new writing a voice, it's also an extremely lonely world. It tests your fortitude continually since there's not always someone behind you with finances, resources, and marketing ops to remind you people care. But that's the truth about pretty much anything you'll pursue in life--anything God put within you to use for His Kingdom and Glory to impact others for the Gospel.

It will be lonely. It will be tested.

Believe it or not though, there is a way to pass the test and surf on top of the waves sent to bury you.

One of my old favorite movies has been reminding me of this lately.

The family adventure film Soul Surfer, released in 2011, is as heartfelt and endearing as it is taut and intense. I heartily recommend seeing it if you haven't. It's based on the real-life ordeal of pro-surfer Bethany Hamilton who had her arm bitten off by a shark when she was a teenager.

The film walks audiences through the devastation Bethany suffers as she faces the new obstacles of surfing in competitions with only one arm. After facing a humiliating defeat halfway through the movie, the heroine wonders if she can actually continue to compete the way she dreamed she would, agonizing over how Philippians 4:13 actually seems to mock her incompetence.

When we hear, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me", it's easy to assume we know what those things are. We reason that if God gave us certain gifts, He has to use them the way we've always dreamed, and if we're in His Will, then what could go wrong? But we live in a fallen world where plenty does.

We're continually faced with challenges and disappointments, but some are worse than others, hitting us with hurricane speed and leaving our hearts as shredded as Bethany's mangled surfboard. In these moments where devastation forces us to confront a crossroads, there are a few important things we need to do.

First, we need to grieve. It's okay to take a step back, take a breath, and release all your tears, acknowledging that things are different now and may never be the same. Something may have been lost that will never be recovered. We do ourselves no favors when we ignore those realities. Faith doesn't ask us to do that.

However, the danger lies in building a monument to our grief and setting up camp there forever. This is what I've caught myself doing. I don't want to drown in the impact zone, and we don't have to! Jesus has provided a way for us to walk on the waves.

That's why the second thing to do is to remember what He's done and who He is. After this recalibration, we are back to understanding where we get the power and heart to move forward. Then, we're ready for step three: get a new perspective.

Bethany's trip to Thailand gives her the vision she needs to see the greater impact that God intended her life to have, something that's incredibly possible even without surfing professionally. This is the catalyst that gets her moving again, and when she returns home, a God-surprise is waiting for her in the form of thousands of letters from disabled kids who were impacted by her decision to compete with one arm.

Ask God what you should prioritize in this season, where you can create margin to slow down and listen to His voice, perhaps in a different setting than you've been used to. This is a way for us to own some of the change, embrace it. Then, ask Him for His perspective, His vision. "What now?" is a much better question than "Why?" because it gives us direction for today, which is all we're responsible for right now. When we jettison what we can't control and focus on God's will for us today, we're freed up to appreciate the surprises only He can generate.

I'm so thankful that God never gives up on us. He hasn't given up on me, and He hasn't given up on you. He has a miracle in store for you like He did for Bethany. And even if you don't know what the future holds, you can be sure of one thing: God will always be faithful, and He hasn't destined you for despair. Choose Him, and you choose the good future He has for you, heat by heat, wave by wave. And it'll be more than you ever bargained for!

Let God bring you the competitions that you're meant to engage in, but otherwise don't let comparison or fleshly expectations rule your life. Because with the Maker of waves on your side, there's no contest.

McNamara, Sean, Director. Soul Surfer. Screenplay by Sean McNamara, et al. Sony Pictures, 2011. YouTube, Uploaded by YouTube Movies & TV, Soul Surfer (

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