This summer I learned to swim.
My girls are 9 and 7. They have been in swimming lessons for several years now, and this year it is all beginning to pay off! Our community pool is a great size and shape for them. It has a deep end that challenges them to continue working on their strokes and their breathing, which has helped them turn into really good little swimmers! I have been very impressed as I have watched them progress, and I began saying (without much exaggeration) that both girls were better swimmers than me. I sat on the deck chair and watched them improve.
By the end of the summer, watching them improve had made me want to improve. But there was a problem:
- You can only improve if you practice.
- You can only practice if you get into the pool.
- If you get into the pool you will get wet.
- If you get wet you get cold.
- So, you can only improve if you get wet and cold.
I hate being wet and cold. Swimming is only enjoyable for me when the air is 100 degrees and the water is not far behind. So it is never very appealing for me to jump in the water to swim. That’s just how I am. So, one evening as the kids were swimming and I was watching, I started to dip my toe into the pool to see if it was warm enough. Then Luke said some words that struck me as profound:
“Don’t feel the water, dad. Just jump in!”
That summed it up pretty well for me. I jumped in and swam. I practiced my breathing and my strokes. And I spent the rest of the summer enjoying the pool with my kids. It was cold sometimes, but I didn’t let that spoil our fun. Somehow I was able to change my mindset and actually enjoy swimming, regardless of temperature. Learning how to swim was easy – I’ve known how to swim for decades. But my thoughts and inhibitions and dislikes and personality were holding me back. When I abandoned my old habits and reinvented myself, that’s when I actually learned to swim.
This is a pretty good picture of my life. I am a cautious person by nature. I like to be certain about things before deciding. I like to be prepared. I don’t like making mistakes. In my line of work that is a very good thing, but when I take it to an extreme in some areas of life it can interfere with all that God has for me to do. I have been learning that sometimes it is oK to just jump in with both feet and figure out the details later. It may not be as perfectly executed or as comfortable as it could be, but by jumping in it will keep me from talking myself out of doing what I know I need to do. Too often my planning turns into procrastinating, because I get cold feet.
It’s a balance. There are areas of my life where I need to plan more meticulously. I am working on that, and it could be another blog post. Today’s story is about the times when I know what I want to be doing, but don’t do it because I don’t want to get cold and wet. For those times, Luke’s advice is true: “Don’t feel the water – just jump in!”
What areas have you held yourself back? Stunted your own growth? Avoided pleasant or necessary activities because of some mental hang-up? What is a way that you can ‘not feel the water and just jump in’? Sometimes that is what is required to face your fear.
Please comment – we’d love to hear your stories!