Recently I had the pure joy of spending a whole day with my granddaughters. Just the three of us. No schedule. No plans. Just hanging out. There’s nothing better than keeping company with these two bundles of giggles and energy.
After a leisurely morning we went swimming. They are both little fishes, I mean mermaids. The 4 year old, Avery, is so excited this year because she can now swim in the deep end like her big sis. Anything to be as big as Sissy!
When we arrived at the pool there was hardly anyone there. It was nice. Felt relaxing like the morning had been.
Eloise went off the diving board and little sis Avery climbed up to go right after her. Only, when she was about two feet from the end of the board she froze. All that relaxation turned tense in a flash.
There she stood frozen, fists clinched, jaw set. As the life guard looked on Eloise did our best cheers of encouragement. “Come on Aves, you can do it!” “I’m right here, jump and swim to me!” The more encouraging we became the more rigid she became.
After a while I changed tactics. ” Avery, no one’s pressuring you to jump. You don’t have to do it right now. No big deal. Give yourself a break and come on down.”
“Urrgh, but I want to jump!!”
It was clear she was so frustrated with herself. This was something she really wanted to do. But her fear had immobilized her and she felt stuck.
This went on for awhile until a group of older kids came and were heading toward the board. I suggested we take a chips and queso break and, since chips and queso are a favorite, she snapped out of her trance of terror and made her way off the board.
It took her a while to recover. She was frustrated with herself. Broke my heart to see her being so hard on herself. I sensed though that this was a big growing moment for her.
The chips and cheese concoction slowly worked their magic and when she’d had her fill she was open to playing in the mermaid pool, aka kiddie pool. She and her sister splashed in the fountains and played until the squeals and giggles returned. I loved seeing her smile again.
After a while she was ready to go again.
Eloise went first. Perfect canon ball. Then came Avery. This time there was no hesitation. Just sheer resolve. Once she got on the board she never even paused. One, two, three and off the board she went. Yay! As she surfaced to our cheers of glee for her, she grinned the biggest grin possible.
And, just like that, the fear was gone. Before we left the pool that day Avery jumped off the board a good seven or eight times more. Even perfected her own canon ball!
I marvel as I think about her transformation from terror to triumph. From frustration to joy. It was a process of both struggle and release. It was clear she had to wrestle with her fears and doubts and fears. And just as clear that it wasn’t until she let herself relax that she opened up to the possibilities of success.
Such, is the great journey of life. Full of challenges with which we are called to struggle. Challenges that can only be truly conquered when we allow ourselves to relax and open up to the possibilities of success. It’s in the sweet release we find the necessary strength to carry through.
I think this is what Jesus meant when he encouraged his followers to abide in him. To lay our struggles aside and rest in the truth that all will be well. Regardless.
Sometimes we are reminded of this through our participation in communion. Sometimes it comes through chili con queso and chips. And, a splash in the mermaid pool.
Something to chew on…