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Learning As I Go: Let’s live in the deep end

My youngest son is fearless. No matter what new adventure is at hand, he is always raring and ready to go. My oldest, on the other hand, is a bundle of nerves. He is overly cautious and worried about everything.

This summer, thanks to my newly retired parents, my sons were able to spend time swimming each week. At the beginning of the summer, my oldest refused to get in the pool unless he was wearing his arm floats. He knew how to swim and did it well, but the idea of letting go of his security net scared him to death. My youngest, however, is totally the opposite. He was just learning how to swim and we have had to make him put on his life vest and floats, otherwise, he would just dive in without thinking about the fact that he could possibly drown.

As I have watched the progression of these two over the past few months, I am proud to say that my youngest is starting to figure out how to swim while still wearing his float. He is jumping off of the diving board, letting Papa throw him in the air across the pool, and loving every minute of it. If he falls, he gets back up. If his face goes under and he swallows a little bit of water, he spits it out and yells for more. My oldest is now swimming without any floats at all. What is even more impressive is that he is holding his breath while swimming under the water and has started to venture into the deep end. With each new step, he has been scared and fearful. With each push to go to the next level, he has pushed back with nervous resistance. But nonetheless, he has continued to persevere.

Watching these two little humans this summer has taught me so much about facing our own fears. My youngest seems to laugh in the face of fear while my oldest steps with hesitation. If my oldest had not been forced to face his fear each week, he would still be in the shallow end, wearing his floats. He would have missed the confident resolve of conquering his fear and the resulting freedom of venturing into the deep end.

Sometimes fear becomes the motivator for a sedentary life. Fear grows so large that we feel our feet taking root right where they stand. We forget that we are made for more. We forget the dream that is planted deep inside our hearts. We forget the passion that is hiding in our soul. We forget that the deep end even exists. And we forget that we already know how to swim. So we stay stuck, young and old alike, not realizing the power that fear has over us.

But what if we force ourselves to face those fears? What if we take off our floats and jump off of that scary diving board? What if we stick our heads under the water and start swimming, even though we are scared? What if we stop living in nervous resistance and begin to solidly persevere? What if we embrace the confident resolve of conquering our fear and begin living in the true, unhindered freedom of the deep end?

What if we realize what we have been missing and learn to love every minute of it? Take a chance. Let go of that fear. Let's live in the deep end.

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