When I was nine years old my mom signed me up for swimming lessons at the Y. Not the YMCA mind you, but the YWCA. For those who don’t know the difference the YWCA was the Young Women’s Christian Association, and the YMCA was the Young Men’s Christian Association.
I would tell my friends I was taking lessons at the Y, hoping that would be good enough. If they assumed I was talking about the YMCA, so be it. I was embarrassed to be taking lessons at the YWCA. I was a man, so I should be at the YMCA!
My mom signed me up because I was terrified of the water…at least the deep end. I could get in, splash around some and hang on to the side, but I would never venture into deeper waters. My feet had to be planted firmly on the ground. My mom thought if I knew how to swim, I wouldn’t be afraid.
My sister would say my fear was silly. She would then tell me how I used to jump off the diving board. My sister was a lot older than I was and was married not long after I was born. She was a lifeguard and would take me with her. She said I use to love jumping off the diving board.
I didn’t believe her. All I knew was that I was terrified to go in the deep end of the pool. There was no way I would ever jump off the board. Then she found the picture. I mean…THE picture. The picture that would throw me into a tailspin.
The picture was of me, yes me, jumping off a pretty high diving board when I was three years old. It was an amazing picture, especially for someone who was so afraid. Of course, I didn’t remember doing such a thing, but there it was. Apparently at three years old I was fearless.
Looking at the picture was surreal. It was me. It was really me. I was jumping off the high diving board.
I don’t know what happened to take a fearless three year old and turn him into a cowardly nine year old, but something did. I still don’t know. What could have possibly happened to make me afraid to jump in?
Jumping in can be fearful, but we have all done it. Standing on the edge of the water, fear grips us keeping us glued to the edge. As a nine year old, I was fine on the sidelines.e
But here was th time when we looked at the water and took that first plunge. We faced our fears and did it. After taking the plunge, we realized there wasn’t anything to be afraid of.
The picture didn’t help me. I was still. My dad told me the story of what really helped. My main problem was, I didn’t know how to swim. Once I learned how to swim, I was no longer afraid.
We were on vacation and staying at hotels with pools. My dad continued to encourage me to learn how to swim so I could go into deep end. I would have none of it. Until I saw a little girl, one of the other guests, swimming like it was nothing.
My dad said that once I saw that little girl swimming, I jumped in, and learned how to swim. All it took was someone else, although, the fact that she was a girl could have been a motivating factor.
After that fateful day I never hesitated to jump into the water even the deep end. I learned that my fear was just that; fear. Once I was in the water I discovered I loved the deep end. There was adventure. It was fun. I’d try to touch the bottom of the pool and sensed great accomplishment when I was able to finally do it.
I may never know what it was that caused me to become fearful. But I do know it still happens. Every opportunity to jump into a new adventure gets met with fear. What if things don’t work out? What if I get in over my head? What if I’m not able to make it back to the side? What if I get in trouble?
Of course, I’m not talking about water anymore. God calls us into deep waters. He gives us purpose and calls us to mission. Sometimes we are content standing on the sidelines. We are afraid we won’t have time, or we won’t like what God wants us to do, or, quite frankly, if we get into trouble, we won’t be able to make it back to the side. We feel we are already busy enough and are afraid to add one more thing onto our plate. The big question though is this; If God is calling us, what is our answer? Is our answer “yes” or “no”?
Maybe what helped me swim in the deep end can help us to; others. There’s a good chance others are already doing what God is calling us to do. He is calling us to jump in and make a difference. Perhaps he calls us to get involved sharing God’s love with children, or in the neighborhood, or helping people grow in their faith.
Whatever God is calling you to, realize, it is wonderful in the deep end! It’s an adventure were we sense God’s presence and pleasure.