This past summer, my sister and I decided that our toddlers should learn to swim, so we did exactly what we had done for their older siblings – we called Miss Nancy. Miss Nancy is a spry little lady in her eighties, with an uncanny ability to teach little people to swim.
Here’s how it went, in a nutshell, for Anna.
Day 1 – Anna and her cousin both CLUNG to the side of the pool. Miss Nancy said all sorts of clever things; however, the girls could not be persuaded to let go for more than a few seconds at a time.
Day 2 – Miss Nancy pried Anna off of the side so that she could practice walking to the steps while moving her arms in a swimming motion. She beelined back to edge at every opportunity. Meanwhile, I wondered why I was wasting my money on this child who didn’t really even want to put her face in the water.
Day 3 – Miss Nancy took Anna to the middle of the shallow end, counted to three, and gave her a giant shove. That’s when the miracle occurred. My kiddo actually swam.
Over the next few days, I watched my daughter discover the delight of swimming. She especially loved to float face-down in the water – not moving a muscle, completely relaxed. This progression from terrified clinging to joyful swimming reminded me of myself (and a lot of people that I know).
Just like Anna preferred to stay by the side of the pool, where it was safe and comfortable, and completely risk-free, I know I often try to do that exact thing with my life and my kids. I hold on (with white knuckles) to the comfortable, the familiar, the safe.
Anna didn’t find real freedom in the pool until she learned to let go and swim. It turns out that holding onto the edge really isn’t any fun. All the fun takes place in the middle of the pool, where you can jump and splash; where you can float with joyful abandon.
Paul reminds us in Galatians 5:1, “It is for FREEDOM that Christ has set us free.” And Jesus himself says in John 10:10, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Friends, instead of standing by the side of the pool, miserable and afraid, let’s swim out to the middle, where freedom and growth live. Let’s be free from living a comfortable, risk-free life, just because we’re afraid to really accomplish what Christ has set us free to do.
In my tiny corner of the world, I’ve recently witnessed friends bravely let go of the side to write books, start homeschooling, go back to work, quit jobs, adopt children, start ministries, plant churches, and love their neighbors. I wish I could tell all of their stories. Their lives, just like Anna, encourage and inspire me to release my grip on the safe (but boring) edge. Let’s really live the full, meaningful lives that are ours in Christ!