I know it's only February but we've already started thinking about swimming this summer. Why wait until summer to learn when you can start now. Luckily my local school has a public pool. What a great idea. I'll get home after a long day of work, after my hour long commute, shove all my swim gear in a bag, grab a quick snack, and drag my 4yr old to the pool for a quick "lesson". I brought a kick board and arm floaties. My son will be kicking around independently in no time. Perhaps my expectations were a little too high. So let me tell you what actually happened.
I'm go into the warm pool. "Ok honey. Come to mommy."
"Umm... I don't want to. I want to go home." I just spent all this effort to get here, I'm so not going home.
"This is going to be fun. Just come for a little bit." He reluctantly gets into the pool.
"I want to go home."
"In a little bit, mommy's going to walk us around in the pool."
I imagined this would be fun and relaxing except my son has a choke hold on my neck and vice grip legs around my mid-section. Well we're not going to get any swimming done in this state. Luckily, some other kids are now entering the pool, emitting an aura of confidence as they wade, swim, and leap into the pool. Too bad that choke hold hasn't loosen up yet. Maybe I should switch tactics.
I walk us over to the shallow 3 ft end. I try to peel my boy an inch from my body when he starts to frantically kick and doggy paddle. I tell myself this is okay. It's a natural reflex to try to save yourself. But panic is not helping our "lesson". Maybe if I help him feel safe. Maybe if he realizes he's not going to sink with me holding him, he'll relax... a bit.
"Sweetie... stop moving for a second. Mommy has you and you're safe."
"Good job. See... I'm holding you and you're safe. Can you try to touch the floor with your toes?"
It's 3 ft at the shallow end and I have a very tall 4 year old. This should give him some confidence. Except... he panics and starts to put the choke hold on me again. There he goes trying to save himself again. I know he can touch the bottom with no problem. If only he would trust me enough to try it. I know he'll feel more confident and relaxed if he knew he could stand up in the pool. Past experience has shown me that once he has that confidence he'll be asking me to let go of him. Then I'm the one with panic in her eyes making sure he's well supervised and safe.
This is no lesson on how to teach your child how to swim. I'm obviously not a swim instructor. But as expected, once my son gained some confidence I was able to lead him around the pool without any problems. I didn't think much about the whole swimming session until our Wednesday night bible study. We were talking about trusting and obeying God. Our first instinct is probably to ask "Why? Why do you want me to do this God?" It's pretty hard to just trust and obey. Then J mentioned how nice it would be if her kids would obey her first, ask questions later. She would give them the explanation but it would be nice to have them obey first. I immediately thought of the swim session. I wanted so much for my son to trust me about being able to touch the ground. I knew his limits and I had him safe in my arms the entire time. I was trying to teach him a new skill. I was trying to build his confidence. I wanted him to have fun. But it couldn't happen without his trust first.
Then it hits me. Oh, how often have I been this way with God. How often has He asked me to try something, to step out of my comfort zone? "Should I talk to that stranger who seemed to be having a bad day? Should I ask them to church?" How often has He asked me to trust and obey so that he could build me up only to hear me say no. "I don't know if I have time time to help that person this weekend. I would help with that ministry but I just don't have the time for it." How often have I panicked and tried to save myself not realizing God has me in His grip all along. "Everything will be fine if I can just fix this." All I had to do was be still and feel His presence around me. "Thank you, Almighty God, for being in control. Thank you for carrying me through these trials." It may be scary to step out in faith, but I pray we'll grow to trust and obey God more. For His kingdom, it will always be worth it.