I’m almost embarrassed to say it, but my youngest three began swimming lessons last week….they’re 9, 7 and 5. And yes, it’s their first time taking swimming lessons…. Every summer for the past several I’d think “really need to get those kids some swimming lessons” and every summer it wouldn’t happen.
When I told them that I’d signed ’em up, Declan, the 9 year old, was not happy. Probably an understatement He was unhappy; SO completely unimpressed….and anybody that knows the boy will understand. I didn’t get the same reaction from Rhys and Tess, but Dec? It was constantly on his mind; he would not say that he didn’t want to learn, he was just afraid.
I explained to him that it was normal to feel nervous before starting something new and I used a couple of his siblings as examples to encourage him. I asked him if he thought Meagan was nervous that first time she got into a glider, or the first time she flew a Cessna on her own. Do you think Cam was a little jittery when at 12 he donned a set of pads for the first time and stepped out onto the football field, Dec? Certainly didn’t know what he was doing…. or that first College game he actually got to play in? Yikes, talk about pressure.
Declan admitted to me a couple days after starting that he felt nauseous before each lesson…but despite the queezy tummy, despite the fact that he had to get his face wet and be in a group with strangers and take instruction from someone he doesn’t know, he didn’t ask if he could quit and I wouldn’t have let him anyway. He continued to go and to listen and to do what what asked of him and now he’s jumping off the dock and “swimming” out to the raft. He faced his fear and won and his mama is proud of him. Rhys is also doing very well and Tess? Well, she is another story. A strong-willed little girl with the appearance of an angel who doesn’t like to take instruction and certainly isn’t going to get her face wet.
Such a head game! Despite the fact that fears are, for the most part, irrational, our fears have such a capacity to hold us captive, keep us from learning, growing, changing. Though having a gang of children gives me a great vantage point for such observations, I don’t have to look beyond myself to see the signs of fear….though I’d like to say that I’ve put those puppies to bed, I have not. There have been times when the fear of what tomorrow may hold has met up with anxiety about today (particularly when the bank account drains precariously close to the edge) and I’ve found myself in the grip of complete and absolute irrational fear. What helps me the most in those times are
- family. They are God’s gift to me and an example of his faithfulness, despite my own brokeness
- good friends. Not acquaintances…..the ones who despite knowing me….all of it…..love me anyway. Those who have my back.
- a past. We all have them, but sometimes they have us. Looking backward is a fairly pointless exercise UNLESS it`s to look and see all that God has done; to recall his mercy and faithfulness. All the times he’s shown up in the nth hour and I realize…again…that all my fear and anxiety were for naught. Other than make me just a little bit crazier.
One of my “go to” scriptures in those times? Matthew 6: 25-34 (ESV)
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[g] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.