Sunday, June 26, 2016

Learning to Swim

Beginning last summer, I had several different opportunities to take my lovely friends children to the pool.  I dont know if you have ever had the opportunity to teach a child to swim, but it can be total chaos, particularly in the early stages.  Tossing any hope of technique right out the window, the initial goal is to simply move from point A to point B and still be alive at the end of it.  We attempt to teach the child how to move in ANY type of forward motion, and while they are getting the hang of moving both arms and legs at the same time while not guzzling to much water in the process, it can look like a total mess.  I remember my dad taught all 3 of us kids how to swim, and dad was a giant.  But, he was also not easily moved by tears or drama.  Dad taught you what to do, and then he expected ( read "forced") us to let go of the wall and give it a go.  He knew we werent going to drown, looking back now I know of course that is b/c he wasnt going to go far enough that he couldnt easily get to us if we were in trouble, but that we wouldnt learn unless we let go of the wall and applied the skills he had just taught us.  When it came to learning life lessons, necessary skills, and all things safety, one thing I remember from childhood that is still true today mind you, is that we kids could not tell dad "I cant."  He wasnt buying.  "Oh horse!" would most likely be his reply to that nonsensical statement.

As I was driving to church this morning, the thought came to me that walking with the Lord has so many parallels to a child learning to swim.  Just like an earthly father teaching his children to swim, the Lord loves us so much He wants us to learn life skills and get better at doing certain things over time.  And just as a child who is learning to swim for the very first time, the beginning is messy and the sole goal of the whole experience is survival!  All I can focus on in that moment is getting to dad and grabbing on for dear life.

This visual reminds me of the first time I had to walk thru something incredibly difficult in my personal walk with the Lord, trusting Him in new ways that were stripping me down to the heart of what I believed... It was MESSY.  It was HARD.  It was PAINFUL.  But guess what?  I got better.  I got better at trusting my Father.  I got better at reading the signs and learning the skills necessary to survive in new territory.  By the end of that season, much like a child who has just learned to swim but continued to swim all summer, I wasnt nearly as afraid.  I wasnt the same person who had started the summer not knowing how to do this.  The next time we get in the water again, we remember what we learned last time.  We get a little more brave.  We swim a little bit farther.  And it starts looking a lot less chaotic.  Perhaps we even learn to roll over onto our backs and float for a while when we get tired in the middle of a long swim?

Just like my earthly father wouldnt let fear keep me from learning to swim because he knew how much I would miss out on in life if I didnt have that skill in my back pocket, how much more does our Heavenly Father who created every single thing about us know what we need?  To a child who has never swam before, holding onto the edge of that pool looking at their dad 12 feet away feels like an impossible ask... Even as an adult, I have been in that place.  When God is asking me to learn or grow or trust Him in a new way, and I am standing in all I know and understand I am thinking "You want me to do WHAT??"  Child learning to swim or adult on the verge of something new and scary, the thought processes are the same.

But you know what else is the same?  Our Father is there, standing ever so close by, believing that even tho its hard, the reward will be so worth it.  And thru this painful but loving process, we, the child, we get better.  We learn to trust.  We improve our technique.  We grow in confidence.  And one day, thru the lessons we learned, we can teach, encourage, support, and love the many coming after us.

If I can learn and grow and get better at this... SO. CAN. YOU.

Dont stop in the middle of the pool.  Dont throw in the towel before your miracle.  What are you walking thru right now that you can learn from and grow so that one day you can love on and encourage those who may come behind you?  Has there been any one particular take away that has kept you grounded during this season of growth?

No comments: