From time to time, I have found myself telling God, “I’m strong enough. I don’t need to grow anymore. Really, I’m content with who I am...” Knowing I have a grin on my face and am half joking but still serious, I imagine He smiles back with a wise, understanding but slightly sarcastic, “Sure you are” to me. This now common sentiment of my heart was originally birthed out of pain and was a cry of desperation due to lack of hopelessness. You see, I’m not the kind of person who loves a challenge where the outcome is out of my control. Actually I don’t naturally enjoy any challenges when there is a risk of failure at all. I like hard work and have confidence in the things I know how to do well. So when something that is hard and near impossible but falls within the range of my natural skill set, I am ready to go for it. But when the risk of failure is over 1%, my natural tendency has been to quit before I get started. For years I had engineered a little bubble of safety around myself but masked it with all the work I was doing, so to many people I seemed brave. Over the years God has taken me to a place of deeper trust so that while I still tell Him that I’m good where I am and don’t need to grow anymore, I can move despite my fear of failure and choose to trust in Him. Now when I find myself in a place of telling God I’m good if I don’t grow for a while, there is an excitement and a hope mixed in with the fear because I know He’s not ok with me staying where I am. He loves me too much to leave me where I’m at, and has more healing and even more joy in store for me. It was a hard path to get to this place and only happened after many times of God asking me to do something where if He doesn’t show up I fail. Even as I type this out, I’m getting a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes because once again I find myself in a place of Him asking me to have faith in Him that far outweighs any faith I am feeling right now. If He doesn’t come through for me, I’m done. He has asked me to leap once again knowing full well if He doesn’t catch me, pieces of me will be scattered all over the proverbial pavement. Sometimes this challenge to trust Him leaves me strengthened in my resolve and basking in His love for me. Other times it leaves me in tears, but through the discomfort He speaks to my heart me in such practical ways. The three and a half year old I nanny had forgotten how much fun water can be. When I first took her to the pool this summer, she refused to get off the stairs. Despite having a lifejacket on that will keep her from drowning, the idea of getting in the deep water terrified her. Her fear had such control of her that even when I was holding her, she had a death grip on me and her body was so tense I knew her fear was intense. She was telling me the same thing I had been telling God about being grown enough. In her fear she was content to being relegated to playing on the stairs because she couldn’t imagine how much fun was to be had in the rest of the pool.
But I knew. I knew how much enjoyment she would get from swimming on her own and catching pool toys and playing on the noodle. I knew how much fun she would have pretending the rope between the deep and shallow ends was a tight rope and crossing it again and again. And because I love her more that she knows and I want what’s best for her, I held her in my arms and took her off the stairs deeper into the pool. As she clung to my body I asked her in my most reassuring voice, “Who has you? Who loves you? Whose job is it to keep you safe? Who’s so strong that she won’t drop you?” Each time she answered, “Danee” I knew her feelings of trust were growing. I asked her “Will I let you get hurt? Would I ask you to do anything that is not safe?” And with each response of “No” I could feel her relax a little. So I slowly dipped both of us deeper into the water. Then I gradually held on to just her feet, the whole time reminding her that I am strong and I love her and it is my job to keep her safe. Eventually I just held one foot and she freaked out again. This time though, I didn’t gab the other foot, but I kept reminding her that she is safe and that I am right here. I reminded her of how much I love her and how my main purpose is to keep her safe. I reminded her that I’ve been going to the gym a lot and how strong I am and that I am completely capable of keeping her safe. When I finally let go of both feet and she was once again scared. I continued talk her through it, reminding her that I am right next to her. If anything happens, I will get her. I will not be so far from her that I even have to work hard to save her. Eventually she started enjoying the water, but still needed to know I was only an arm's reach away. After a couple weeks of this, not only does she have enough trust in the life jacket, but she knows that as long as I’m in the area, nothing will happen. This was tested last week. I was playing tightrope in the space between the deep and shallow and she somehow inhaled water. She was close enough within my range that she only had a second of panic without my arms around her, but to be honest, we were in over my head so it took me a bit to get her out on the side of the pool. I didn’t panic cuz she had her lifejacket on, but it wasn’t an easy or graceful maneuver to get to a place where we could talk it through. The funny thing is, I don’t think it ever crossed her mind that I was struggling. She knew as soon as I had her, she was ok. After she shot off a snot rocket, outside the water of course, and gave a slight retelling of what happened, she was off in the water again. And as I sat and watched her enjoy the thing she had been terrified of and thankful I made her face the unknown, I felt God surround my heart with comfort. He loves me more that I will ever love her. He will never struggle to keep me from drowning. And He loves me too much to allow fear to keep me from doing something He knows I will love. So when I find myself telling Him that I’m grown enough, it’s just an honest reflection of my heart and the remnant of fear of failure that still is present. However, now the moments of desperation are less and less and the moments of feeling hopeless last but a second as I hear Him asking me, “Who keeps you safe?” “Who has you?” “Who loves you?” “Who’s arms are so strong they will protect you?” After thirty-eight years of hearing Him whisper this to my heart, there is no doubt in my mind that the answer is Him: The One Who Loves Me Most. I just have to wait for my feelings to catch up to what I know the truth to be. So wherever you are in your faith and trust walk know that He has you. He loves You. His job is to keep you from drowning. That doesn’t mean you won’t inhale some water from time to time, it just means He loves you too much to let you miss out because of fear.