It’s 9:30 on a cool summer morning and I’m sitting next to the pool with all the other moms, dads, grandmas and grandpas…watching our little ones take swim lessons.
It is an age old tradition of instilling in these precious children the joy of swimming. Both for their enjoyment and fun, but also for their safety. I must say I envy my grandson his obvious delight and joy he finds by being in the water. He is not afraid at all. Some of the kids are clinging to the side of the pool with a death grip. Crying and whining when the teacher asks them to put their face in the water and blow bubbles. Not my grandson. He can’t even hear the teacher as she gives instructions to the class because he is under the water. Eyes open in his goggles, breathing out bubbles and skimming along like a fish.
My own fear of the water, I believe is pretty much hereditary. I do not remember my parents ever talking about enjoying the water. On the contrary, we were told often not to go near the water or we would fall in and drown. I remember one summer when they decided that my sister and I should take swim lessons. I’m not sure why, except to maybe prolong our time in the water in case we ever did fall in. Every day, we were dropped off at the Lithia Hot Springs pool to learn about floating and forward arm strokes. But the fear ran deep in us and we would find ways to hide out in the dressing room and avoid all contact with the lessons and the water. A fact that while outlining this blog my parents finally figured out much to their dismay.
Later in life, my husband, who is also an avid swimmer, decided to teach me to swim by taking me to the Santiam River on one very hot summer day. After some verbal instructions and reassuring, we got in the water and he guided and coaxed me across the river to the other side. Whew!! I made it. I was so proud of myself. I had entered the water and survived. I began to have visions of going swimming and having people gasp and wonder at how graceful I was in the water. Then as the sun slowly changed on the surface of the river, I started to notice that I had not been the only “fish” in the water. The sunlight opened up the green murky water and I saw the giant fish that lived there. Some were ½ my size and they were swimming back and forth between me and the other side of the river…which is where the car was parked. I don’t remember how long David and I sat there that day, but I do remember that it took all the courage I could muster up to get back in the water and swim through those giant fish to safety. I never really swam in the river again.
When our son was born we decided that we wanted to break the hereditary curse of the fear of the water. We had him in the water taking lessons at 6 months old. He took to the water like it was where he belonged. We would hold him in front of us and gently blow in his face causing him to take a breath…and then we let him go. He would just swim. Natural and free, eyes wide open! It inspired me as I watched from the sidelines. He went on to take several years of lessons and joined the 6 year old and under swim team where he refined his skills. As his love of the water grew so did he.
It is like a big circle, coming back around to my grandson at age 4 ½. Not to sound corny…but it’s the “circle of life.”
Maybe it’s too late for me. Maybe I’m too old to really ever learn to love the water like my husband, my kids and my grandson. But thinking about it gets me pondering life. Life is like swimming. It is what we are willing to put into it.
Do we want to:
• Sit on the sidelines and just watch other people experience life.
• Or maybe we’re willing to get in the water, but only at the shallow end. We don’t want to get all crazy and go deep enough that we can’t touch the safety of the bottom or the side.
• Or, can we acknowledge and recognize that to truly enjoy and experience life to the fullest, we have to go all in. Not just the “kiddie” pool, but the whole thing.
We need to put off our fears and jump in the deep end. Fully going under! And coming back up gasping for the air of life.
Take a look at your life. What is holding you back? What is keeping you in the comfort zone of your box? God wants us to have a life filled with abundant joy, peace, hope and love. But we can’t have that life by sitting on the sidelines.