This semester I signed up for a beginner’s swim class. Me having had no prior swim lessons, I was completely unaware of what to expect from the class. I thought I would just jump in the water, learn some steps and well, swim, but five weeks into the class, I’ve now learned otherwise.
“Front float,” my instructor told me during a one-on-one lesson.
As I pondered this suggestion, I awkwardly froze as I told him I was afraid of front floating. I should probably add that I was standing in 4-feet deep water while he sat inches in front of me on the edge of the pool… Also, while an on-duty lifeguard was a few feet away. Not helping my case, but helping you understand how massive my fear was. Just to be sure, we later tested the fear out as he held a floatie out while standing right next to me. After three failed attempts of me placing my tense body, face first in the water with feet still afraid to leave the ground, he decided to check my heart rate. He didn’t tell me what it was but he suggested we “Call it a day…”
This situation drove me insane. I hated how afraid of water I was. That weekend I went on a retreat with my church. During the retreat, the story of Peter walking on the water to Jesus was mentioned along with the Hillsong song “Oceans.” Both are about trusting God “where feet may fail.” I worshipped, wept, reflected and vowed to get back in that pool trusting God.
Monday. 9 AM. Class time. I was ready. Ready to overcome my fear and to progress with the rest of my peers. My instructor numbered us off for drills andddddd I hardcore struggle bussed as usual… So the class split off with me and 2 other struggling students going with a different instructor for extra help. I still sucked, I still was afraid, but woohoo I was making progress! Or so I thought…
Next class came on Wednesday and yeah the struggle bus persisted. Partly because they decided to have us use fins and largely because well I still sucked and was afraid. I persuaded one of the instructors to split the class off again.
“I’m going to work at this part of the pool with some other students that are still having problems for anyone else that wants to join,” he announced.
*Awkward silence* as I, the only student that needed help, slowly trudged with my fin engulfed feet through the water while everyone else stared…
In this class I accomplished nothing, save for further learning that I was still afraid, but that I didn’t wanna give up. Since Monday would be a holiday, I had a week before the next class, and in that week I was determined to overcome my fear and improve. A friend of mine went to the pool with me and I did something I hadn’t done before. I asked her if I could pray with her before we started. Since she wasn’t a Christian and I was/am well, awkward, I wasn’t sure how this would go. The whole time I thought my swim fears and improvements would be accomplished with just me and God in the water, but after praying with her and going to the pool with her two days in a row, I realized that God had different plans. He used my friend to help make me more bold in the water. For once, I wanted to and wasn’t afraid to get rid of my kick board, I wasn’t afraid to float and I wasn’t afraid to practice in the deep end (deep meaning 5 feet, but hey no judgements!). It was nothing short of a miracle to me, but even in a miraculous feat like this, my flesh still managed to get the better of me.
My next swimming class was two days away and rather than being excited about returning with these new accomplishments under my belt, I dreaded going back to class. The embarrassment I previously felt, fear of my fears in water returning, and some more human rationalizing overwhelmed me. I was ready to give up. I would continue to learn how to swim, but I just didn’t want to continue in that class. The clock was ticking as I had 2 days left to drop the class without a “W.” As my rationalizing got the better of me, I didn’t go to class that day. Though, I was still left to analyze and think about whether or not I should drop the class. While dropping a gym class isn’t the end of the world, the reason why I wanted to drop left me to ponder mine. Would I really quit a class because of fear and pride? Would I really give up because this was a challenge I had never before faced?
No. The answer to those questions was no.
I couldn’t allow the demon that was gnawing at my insides to win. That night I decided I would go to the pool. The entire half mile walk to the gym, my stomach was in knots, my heart was racing and I was unbelievably anxious, nervous and scared. I had no idea why these feelings were upon me, but they were. I slowed down my power walk pace as I slowly exhaled and then a song came on shuffle on my iPod that I don’t think I had listened to more than once: Jason Castro’s “Only a Mountain.” The song brought me tears in the street as the words filled me with peace.
This is only a mountain
You don’t have to find your way around it
Tell it to move, it’ll move
Tell it to fall, it’ll fall
This is only a moment
You don’t have to let your fear control it
Tell it to move, it’ll move
Tell it to fall, it’ll fall
I listened to it 5 times and I prayed and told my mountain to move in Jesus’ name. When I got to the pool I wasn’t afraid. I got into the water and while I didn’t make any miraculous changes, I was able to do what I had worked on with my friend and that was more than enough for me. One of my instructors was teaching a class while I was practicing and I spoke with him later. He gave me more encouraging words for why I shouldn’t quit and how I should just practically set smaller goals than the rest of the class. Great advice that I’m just now heeding. I’ve ultimately realized that there’s a reason I’ve had such a battle in this class and I know that in His perfect time, God will make that reason known.