This past week, Kate started swimming lessons with our precious friend, Emily Flynt. Emily was our caseworker during our adoption process and instrumental in the moment I held my daughter for the first time. It was absolutely fitting that she would be the one to teach her how to swim.
Water, even standing water, is a dangerous paradigm unless you know how to swim. Once you are confident enough navigate it, however, it becomes far less of a threat. Our goal in giving Kate swimming lessons at her young age was to keep her from drowning should she ever face a battle with water…very necessary since we now have a pool right in our back yard.
Kate was in a class with 2 other children a little bit older than her. Day one was easy as pie and the kids just learned how to kick their legs while Emily held onto them. You could see their attitude go from terror at the thought of having to “swim” to “I got this. This is easy.” They were completely unaware of what was ahead and confident that they had learned to swim. Day two, however, was underwater day. Emily began to teach them how to hold their breath and go under the water. This brought a variety of responses. Most of them involved screaming, crying, and manipulating. One little girl pleaded for her life using every technique she could think of. All of the children, however, discovered their vice grip and used it on Emily. She patiently pried them off amidst the cries and calmly put their faces under the water again. Day three was mass hysteria… to the point that even I wanted to cry. The kids were begging and pleading and screaming. “Please, please don’t put me underwater!!” Yet every single one of them had learned to hold their breath properly and a millisecond before they were to go underwater, all hysteria would cease and they would do what they were being taught to do.
On day 3, I watched Kate carefully and realized that the issues that these kids were having was one of control. Suddenly, they were not in control any longer and it didn’t matter what they did, they were going under water whether they liked it or now. It was also a trust issue. They did not trust Emily (or anyone else for that matter) to not let them drowned. There she was right beside them, ready to reach her hand out any minute and yet they panicked like the pool was completely empty. When Emily would let Kate go and tell her to swim toward the wall of the pool (less than 2 ft away), as soon as Kate’s head went under water, she was panicking and thrashing and trying to turn back around to grab Emily. Day 4 was pretty much the same. Though on this day, one of the little boys in Kate’s class was swimming successfully every single time, but making such a racket in between that you would have thought he had almost drowned. He was succeeding, but he didn’t believe that he was.
Day 5, the final day of lessons, was an epiphany for Kate. After a few tries of going underwater and thrashing around, it was suddenly as if a light bulb came on. Her whole demeanor changed as Emily let her go underwater and swim toward me. There was a peace in her body that I absolutely can explain no other way, but to say that she finally trusted the process. She knew that if she obeyed the instructions that she was being calmly given, that Emily would make sure that she did not drown and she could swim. And she did it!!! I can’t even tell you how incredible it was to watch the change in front of my very eyes.
As I was sitting in church this morning, God brought Kate’s swimming lessons to my mind. You see, He is teaching me how to swim. Learning the faith walk is so incredibly like what I witnessed last week. And I have been thrashing around this week, panicked, wanting nothing but to turn around and go back to the “safe” place in the water. I am scared to death to believe and I am scared to death not to believe. We need a ridiculous amount of money to even log our paperwork next week to begin the process to bring my girls home. If I told you the amount, your mouth would drop. And yet, the Holy Spirit has said, “Wait on Me. I will provide.” I am thrashing and panicking in these waters of pure faith, tempted to do anything but wait. Almost sick to my stomach when I really think about the depth of what we are believing God for. What if He doesn’t come through? What if we look like fools? What if God disappoints us? Just being honest with where my mind has tried to go this week. If you could see to the inside of me, you would see the panicked face that Kate wore as Emily let go of her for the first time.
Sweet friends, we have two choices…we can learn to swim or we can sit outside the pool and watch everyone else swim. I want to learn to swim and that means letting go of ALL of the doubts and realizing that my Savior is standing right beside me waiting to grab me when there is danger and cheer me on when I am finally getting it right. I don’t just want to swim like the boy who still believed with all his heart that he was in danger…all the while swimming. I want to swim with the pure peace that Kate had when she finally realized that it was okay and she could do it. I want to swim fully trusting in my Instructor…knowing that obeying His every Word is the only way I will every swim successfully.
What about you? If you are in the pool of Christ, are you swimming? Are you sitting on the side and watching everyone else? Are you holding on to Jesus with terror and a vice grip that says, “Don’t let me go under water!”? Or have you learned the kind of faith that has you happily kicking around, maybe even teaching other how to do it? That’s the kind of faith that I am striving for. I hope I am closer to day five than to day one.