Smack-dab in the middle of all these shenanigans, we had swim lessons at a friend's pool for the little Mr. As I tend to write about this subject every summer, I'll just say: The little guy hates swim lessons...heavy emphasis on the hate.
The mere mention of swim lessons elicits groans from his little self. He'll play in the water, and he'll wade around, but he simply doesn't trust his safety when it comes to actually swimming. A big part of learning to swim seems to be trusting the person teaching you. You have to give up control in order to allow them to manipulate you in the water, as they guide your body and teach you the techniques.
Each lesson, he eased himself in the water with great trepidation, while laying out the game plan before the teacher:
"Okay, today I'll swim a little, but I don't want to get my face or ears wet. Oh, and I don't want to get my nose or head wet. And, can I not swim on my back? It gets my ears wet. And I don't want to go under water...cause I get wet. And, please don't let me go."
Each day, the sweet teacher smiled and quietly assured him that all of those things had to happen in order to learn how to swim. He listened to her encouragement, and then agreed to her rules...only if he didn't have to get his head wet. They reached an agreement just shy of putting it in writing.
I had hopes that he would be a Michael Phelps by the end of lessons (a mother can only dream), but, sadly, we had a long way to go...the whole 'getting wet thing' was sort of an obstacle.
So, like any mother, pushing their child to achieve, I signed him up for additional lessons. Just two. But, you'd think I had signed him up for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for a year. He was horrified by the thought of going one more lesson past the week-long commitment.
We showed up for the lesson. Me, smiling, cheerful and optimistic, and the little Mr., grumbling, glaring and pouting. We looked great together.
He once again eased himself in the water, but this time he began shrieking, thrashing and yelling, "I hate this, I hate this, I hate this!" I typed this statement in purple...purple makes it look prettier on the page. It was an ugly sight. I'm sure the neighbors were peering through their blinds towards my friend's house and wondering who was torturing the small child. The teacher looked at me and yelled out, "Got a suit? I need you in the water." Luckily I did. So, I suited up, said a prayer and jumped into the water beside my worked-up child.
Ethan grabbed my neck and begged me to not let him go. He was scared, angry, and didn't trust us. He repeated over and over, "Don't let me go. Don't let me go." I promised I wouldn't let him go, but I told him we would move together in the water. I told him I would be asking him to do some hard things that would require him to let go of me...but, I would not let go of him.
I slowly moved with him in the water, calming him down, speaking quietly while the teacher directed me to begin floating him in front of me. As we suspected, he panicked. He gripped me tightly, and I slowly moved forward with the plan, I removed his hands from my neck, promised to not let go, and held him out in front of me so he could look into my eyes. As the teacher coached me, I in turn coached Ethan as he paddled, kicked and floated in circles.
By the end of the lesson, he was jumping into the pool without me holding his hands. He wasn't swimming on his own, but he began to do the things he feared the most.
Trust. It was all about trust. It's funny, but I learn the most about my relationship with God through my children's life experiences.
Just as Ethan attempted to 'set the rules' of engagement prior to swimming, I often find myself trying to set the rules with God.
"Lord, I'll give you this piece of me, but that's all I have to give."
"Lord, I can't do that because it's asking too much."
"Lord, I've paid my dues with tough circumstances, so I deserve a free pass now."
And while sometimes I too, thrash, shriek and scream, 'don't let me go!" He quietly asks me to trust Him. He speaks ever-so-gently. He reminds me to trust Him as he slowly removes my grip from His neck, holds me out in front of Him and says, "I've got you. I promise I won't let you go."
I slowly release my grip from the earthly things that don't matter, and focus my eyes on Him. I am reminded of all of the reasons I trusted Him as my savior 22 years ago. His grace. His mercy. His faithfulness. His love. His protection. His forgiveness.
None of these things are dependent upon me, my abilities, or what I bring to the table (which is nothing). All are given freely, when I rely fully on Him...fixating my eyes on Him.
"So we fix our eyes, not on what is seen, but what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
2 Corinthians 4:18