Saturday, January 3, 2009

Swimming in the Shallow End

I’m 48 years old and I’m not a very good swimmer. I can jump off the diving board and paddle to the edge of the pool. That’s kinda fun from time to time. But as for swimming, I never really learned that skill.

My mother was not a swimmer and was very terrified of deep water. For that matter, any water that was in her face really bothered her. I don’t know why she suffered from Aquaphobia, but it was real powerful. Maybe she had a bad experience when she was a kid that none of us knew about. All I know is that it was real to her and she attempted to foist that fear on me.

I did take swimming lessons one summer at Northwest Pool. But somewhere in that first week, we ventured down to the deep end to try our hand at treading water. I was pretty sure I could do it, until someone shoved me in. It was unexpected and to this day I have no idea who it was, but something happened that day.

I came up gasping for air. I’d caught lung full of water and realized I was about eight feet away from the edge. The swimming teacher just stood there like “okay show us what you’ve got”. But all I could do was panic. I imagined myself dying right there in front of all those laughing kids. Once I finally made my way to the edge I was crying and having a hard time catching my breath.

I remember getting out of the pool and walking away in total humiliation and fear. I never returned. Mom was right; I had cause to be afraid of the deep end.

Eventually, I did learn some basic swimming techniques, on my own. But I never really got over that fear of the deep end. Oh I can somewhat enjoy the pool these days with my kids and thank the Lord we gave them swimming lessons and they do pretty well, but it’s funny how things like that will stick with you.

Most of my life I’ve been swimming in the shallow end of life. I’m not sure if it’s because of my early and unwanted introduction to Aquaphobia or if that’s just the cards I’ve drawn? But the one thing I am very sure of is this: I’ve made the decision to move into the deep end. I’ve decided that the second half of my life, if God gives me a second half, must be spent swimming in the deep end.

Thirty two years ago an old friend, Jerry Holte, coached me to memorize some scripture. One of the passages of choice was Philippians 4:13. I know that there is much in the context that surrounds this verse (for all you textual critics out there), but for me that verse was powerful then and I’m gonna make it powerful again in my life.

I can do all things, to include swimming in the deep end of life, through Christ who gives me the strength. So back up I’m takin’ the plunge!

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