Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Swimming Lessons

A sweet friend of mind suggested today that my newly found compulsion to write is a reflection of the Holy Spirit's work in my heart. What welcome words those are. When I started this blog just two short months ago, I had very different plans for it's content. I hoped to share recipes, stories from family life, crafting and home decorating successes (and mishaps), improve my photography skills, and of course, include spiritual and heart lessons along the way.

I had no idea that in choosing to chronicle and capture life that I would so often find myself up against weighty life circumstances. And, as I'm about to write another reflective post, (yeah, I know, I'm still decorating one square inch at a time for the now revised “Merry and Selective Blog House Tour”) I am grateful to have seen my friend today. She tells me how my words have ministered to her heart. Others of you have said the same. I thank God for each of you and for now this unprecedented compulsion to write.

I am one of those stubborn ones who if told I “should” do something, I naturally resist. So, if there's a book sweeping a best seller list, and one of you says I should read it, I'm more likely to avoid it as a matter of (twisted) principle. The same applies to the life-long suggestion from multiple sources that I “should” write. In fact, my sweetest and perhaps most intimate friends in the world say things like, “I promise to make time to read your book(s).” Yeah, right, when pigs fly is my off hand response.

Even my dear parents, who have never wanted anything but good for me, have always encouraged me to write. Well, you can imagine how well I've responded to them. Not.

In true to myself form, I find it necessary to write lengthy prefaces to what I really want to say. It's as if I know all along what the point of all these words is, but I find that each stroke leads me closer and closer to how to say it.

I've always been a strong swimmer. Both physically and metaphorically. There's joy in the water in both the exertion and buoyant properties of water when one is swimming. I know all the strokes and can swim purposefully and pleasurably. This is often true of my emotional, thought, and spiritual life as well.

But lately, the red flag still flies. The waters have not calmed and the shore is still besieged by frothy waves and vicious undertow. So, if I flip from back to front, swim on the surface or under the water, my swimming ability fails to match the water's demands.

And yet, like Dory in the movie “Finding Nemo” I find that I “just keep swimming”. Really, there's no option to just walk out onto a pleasant beach, towel off, and bask in the sun. These are hard days filled with doubt and suffering, mostly for others, but at least in some ways me too. We do hurt when those we love suffer, even if the pain doesn't directly affect us.

The news for my Dad is not good right now. The first round of chemo was not effective. He must endure a second marathon of drugs being fed into his body 24/7 and the resultant side effects. And, although many people experience remission, we understand that there are those that don't. Only God has the answer to “will this work?”

I still feel a little tender seeing pictures of baby Maria Grace, stillborn two days ago at the very moment I pressed “publish” on my post earlier this week. I also see her mother, head bent low towards her sweet still child, and although her face is serene and she too has the comfort of the Holy Spirit, I know her hurt.

It's no coincidence that our sermon last Sunday morning was taken from the text found in Job one and two. It brought memory crashing back that upon the news that our firstborn daughter would be born still, I decided to meditate on words from Job 13:15, “Though he slay me, yet I will trust him.”

That word, “slay”, that's powerful. It threatens death. And don't we naturally guard against death? Perhaps we even go so far as to avoid all life threatening events in as much a we know.

Back to swimming lessons. I learned to swim in the Atlantic Ocean-frigid, dark, salty water. Every morning my teacher would tell me to step in over my head, and learn how to breathe. Learn how to float. Learn how to stroke. And then do all those things together. It was a decision to trust her, to step into the murky unknown, the very thing that is natural to distrust. And, there was reason enough to dislike it, the discipline required to endure the temperatures in the low fifties and the fearsome crabs I knew were on the bottom. But, somehow, I walked in, went under, and learned to swim. I trusted and obeyed.

Isn't that what I'm doing now? God has purposed for me and several people near and dear to me to enter into swimming lessons of a sort. The water is dark and swirly, but He who formed it is the one who invites me to become a better swimmer.

And, somehow that's like writing. It's as if I don't have a choice right now. I'm okay with that, finally. After all, people have been telling me my whole life I should. And that's just like me who turned a deaf ear to my child's uncertain cry when first introduced to the deep end. I taught him to swim. Because in swimming I knew his life may someday be preserved, and along the way he'd know the pleasure of the water.

Through words the Lord is preserving my life, both in memory and a maturing process. Writing is my “new” skill by which I stay firm and do not seek land. I'm in over my head and I think I'll be here awhile.


  1. Laura, I so enjoy your blog. Thank you for 'taking the plunge' into writing, you are so very good at it. So sorry that your dad hasn't responded to treatment...yet. Will be praying....
    Brenda Passon

  2. I truly like to reading your post. Thank you so much for taking the time to share such a nice information.