My grandmother was scared of water. So she never learned how to swim.
So neither did my mother.
And so neither did I.
Not only was I scared of the water, I was embarrassed by my fear.
At Camp Neyati in the summers when my girlfriends would look forward to our swimming hour, I’d dread it. When they had pool parties, I’d hope we wouldn’t have to actually get in the pool. And when I needed one more P.E. credit in college, I was horrified that Beginning Swimming was the class that would fit my schedule.
I signed up for the class anyway, meeting with other waterphobes that winter semester, three early cold mornings a week in the (somewhat) heated indoor pool. We started with putting our faces under water, then progressed to learning strokes, and then—the mother of all fears—diving into the deep end.
It scared me then.
It scares me still.
When my feet can’t touch bottom, I don’t like it.
I really don’t know what I’m doing.
And that’s what I’d rather you not know.
God keeps giving me things I don’t know how to handle, showing me things I’ve never seen before.
Is this how vulnerability feels? Is this what authenticity looks like? Knowing your feet won’t touch bottom but jumping in anyway?
- Knowing when I pray God’s blessings over strangers that I’ve no clue how those blessings will come?
- Knowing I need to voice my beliefs regardless of how surprised it makes others?
- Knowing I must say yes to new things despite how inadequate I feel?
If I have to jump in over my head, I need to know God is already in the water. To hold me afloat once I’m in. To show me what to do with the other characters he throws in with me.
My feet no longer touch bottom.
All I know is . . . God.
Maybe if Grandma had learned how to swim, she wouldn’t have been scared of the water. And she would have taught my mother. And my mother would have taught me.
So if you see me in the swimming pool, now you know I’m still not comfortable.
But since I’ve learned how to swim, I’m not as scared as I once was. I’ve learned how to dive.
Because God is in the water. And he is who he says he is. And he’s making me into who he says I am. And fear and shame aren’t allowed to stop him.
After all, God hasn’t let me drown yet.
* * *
Have you read Glennon Doyle Melton’s fantastic series the past few days, Sacred Scared? I highly recommend it.
- My reading list February 2014
- What the Dalai Lama says