I told a story last week about how God was teaching me to trust on an ordinary weekday morning watching a swim lesson, but I didn’t give it the ending I wanted. I wanted to say how I knew it would all be okay, how I was ready to jump. I have been following Jesus in all the ups and downs of life for over 30 years; trust shouldn’t be so difficult, or so I tell myself. All week I kept waiting – waiting for my heart to shift, waiting for my fears to somehow disappear. But they didn’t.
I almost drowned once, a very long time ago. My friend’s mother took me to the YMCA to swim with them, giving me advice on how to be more comfortable in the water. I had only had sporadic swim lessons and they never progressed past the “stick your head in the water and blow bubbles” part. We were playing in the water when I slipped. I remember pulling at her swimsuit as she talked to a friend. She glanced at me and told me, “Great job!” thinking I was practicing bobs. I slipped and ended up in the deep end. I tried to grab other people but they brushed it off, just another kid getting to close while swimming. The next thing I remember was the lifeguard’s face as I looked up from the floor of the pool deck.
For 20 years, the smell of chlorine would cause my chest to tighten and my eyes to water. I would imagine the water lapping against my chest and I’d start to shake. Just being at an indoor pool could bring me to tears. The idea of actually entering the water was overwhelming. A mixture of time, prayer, and a patient husband and I am finally able to enjoy being in the water, to spend afternoon after afternoon at the pool with my girls. But I still can’t swim, I can’t even float, and I don’t know if I will have the bravery needed to take the plunge and take lessons. When I am at the pool and see kids walk out on the diving board for the first time, scared to jump in, I get it.
One week later and we are back at the pool. This time it’s the swim test – a lap across the pool by themselves. “I can’t do it,” she says over and over. The swim teacher comes up, the same one from last week, patient as ever. The same encouraging words, but this girl doesn’t buy it. She tears up and tells him she can’t make it across.
“Do you know who I am?” he asks her. “When swim lessons are over, my job is a lifeguard. I spend the rest of the day being ready to save people. I am not going to leave your side. I will be next to you the whole time, ready to save you.”
The girl’s tears slow down and she looks at him thoughtfully. “I don’t think I can go the whole way.”
“Then you go half, and I’ll carry you the rest of the way.”
She nods her head, takes a deep breath, and swims.
The condo still hasn’t sold. Longest negotiation in real estate history, or so it feels like. I keep hearing the words, “I’ll catch you. I’m right here for you. All you need to do is jump.” And I’m still terrified. I don’t know if I can make it. But the idea of doing it on my own? I just can’t do it anymore. So it might not be a jump, perhaps it is more of a slow ease into the shallow end. But this time I know He is there to carry me, and for the first time in a very long time, I feel peace.