I don’t love water so much.
I know, I know, it’s spring and many of you have pulled out the swimsuit from storage and are eagerly awaiting the days you can return to playing in the water. But water just isn’t my thing. It’s so . . . wet. And cold.
I kinda hate being wet and cold. While others splash around the water in pure joy, my teeth will be chattering and I’ll be trying to keep my body from going into hypothermic shock.
That’s why, when our family vacationed at a little house in Virginia this fall and had pool access next door, my kids didn’t even bother asking me to jump in when they went for a swim. They know better. . . Mama’s gonna sit where she belongs—on a poolside lounge chair with a book in hand.
On this particular fall day, the Virginia sun was beating down with unseasonably warm temperatures. Sweat started dribbling down my temples as I tried to position my book out of the glare. I held a can of soda against the side of my neck for a little relief, but the heat became unbearable.
So I finally abandoned my book altogether and sat down by the pool to dangle my feet in the water. See, I’m okay with just getting my feet wet.
My kids must’ve sensed an opening. They saw the question mark in my eyes as I gazed out on the water. I wondered if, maybe this one time, the water might actually feel nice.
“Are you going to come in?” they asked with incredulity. “C’mon! It’ll be fun!”
“Bet you aren’t brave enough to go down the waterslide,” my daughter challenged. (Make it a test of character, clever girl.) I shook my head and kept trailing my toe in a circle through the water. “It’s too cold!” I yelled back. “I’ll freeze to death.”
For the next half hour or so, I alternated between sitting on the lounge chair and returning to the pool’s edge. And my kids alternated between ignoring me and pleading with me to jump in. I kept glancing over to the waterslide. Should I?
Finally, after hearing my daughter taunt me for the hundredth time, something shifted inside of me. I don’t care about the cold. I want to be the mom that will go down the waterslide.
Once my mind was made up, it was only a minute before my feet were padding up the steps of the slide. “Are you really going to do it?” my daughter squealed as I sat down at the top. “Yes I am!” I yelled, and then shoved off for a quick descent into the juice.
(And please note: I did not sit at the top of the slide and deliberate for three minutes like my daughter did on her first run. Just sayin.’)
The water was shockingly cold, as always. But I was invigorated by my little adventure. And more importantly, I’d proven something to myself: I don’t always sit on the sidelines dipping my foot in the water. I can be brave enough to go all in.
Called to Plunge
Much of life, of course, gets lived in shallow, everyday waters. We don’t always have to be swimming in the deep end: In fact, I don’t think we really can. I spent years swimming in frantic circles, trying to be a “perfect Christian woman” juggling life with perfect poise.
I almost ended up drowning in burn-out and depression.
Yes, there’s a time to get out of the pool and take a seat in the lounge chair. To enjoy a time of healing or rest and let God be God.
But then other seasons come. Seasons where a quiet calling begins to form in the heart. Where you begin to gaze at the waters in front of you and wonder: Is it time for me to jump in?
Talking recently with a friend about a new business venture she’s pursuing, she commented: “But it’s so scary.” She continued to spell out her fears: “I mean, what if I don’t get any clients after all I’ve done to invest in this?” My heart almost strained out of my chest, her words so perfectly describing all the emotions I’ve felt in the past few months since I started this blog.
What if I fail? What if people think I’m crazy? What if I pour my heart into it, and it ends up being a colossal waste of time and effort?
It’s such a scary place to be—those places in life where God calls us from the poolside and onto the slide. And yet, it’s kinda exhilarating too, isn’t it?
Those are the places where our faith is put to the test: Will we jump into the unknown and trust? Or will we remain by the poolside, allowing our doubts and fears to hold us back?
I wonder what God might be quietly planting in your own heart these days? Is he leading you toward your own “waterslide moment”?
When we obey these leadings, and we push off into that scary unknown—we feel more fully human, more alive. Why? Because, ultimately, this is what we were made for: To go all in and depend on the One who calls us to take the plunge. Our acts of courage may be laced with fear or uncertainty or even sinful pride. But I think they might be the closest we get, this side of heaven, to being who God meant us to be.
Sometimes, you need to sit poolside for awhile to sort it out. I get that. There’s wisdom to giving yourself time to listen for God’s voice and discern whether your impulses are really from him.
But then, there’s that moment when you just know. It’s time. To take the scary step. To plunge into uncertain waters, even if you are afraid they will make you freeze.
I remember this fall’s trip because of that waterslide excitement, but I remember it for another reason too:
One of those muggy afternoons, we walked the streets of historic Williamsburg and visited the old printing press and book bindery. I fingered a quill in the nearby gift shop, and reflected on how much my heart feels at home in the world of books.
I’d been toying with the idea of “writing more” for months. Years, really. But I’d been waiting. Dangling my feet at the edge of the pool, typing up a few scattered thoughts and scribbling away in a personal journal at night. I don’t have anything to say, I thought.
I kept waiting for a message. And growing more restless about my life.
As I walked out of the Williamsburg gift shop that afternoon, the Spirit whispered: You’re a writer who hasn’t been writing. And that bright truth cast light on why I’d been feeling restless for so long. Stop waiting for the perfect message, God seemed to be saying. Trust me to provide what you need. Just go. Write.
It was time to get in the water.
I went home from that trip and shifted some things around in my personal schedule to make more time for writing. I started saying no to some things so I could say yes to writing time. I started throwing words on the screen, and (gulp) tossing them out there for others to read.
And I’ve been terrified every step of the way.
The real truth? I have no idea where this whole blogging venture will end up tomorrow. But God’s showing up for me, day by day. He’s letting me struggle a bit in these deeper waters. But just when I think I can’t keep swimming, he sends an unexpected encouragement or a kind word from a friend.
He’s not going to let me drown.
I’m not sure where you’re at today, friends. Maybe you’re in a season of waiting, and the courage you need is to trust that God still loves you in the being still. Maybe you have quiet wonderings, little seeds God’s planted in your heart: The courage you need might look like praying about those ideas instead of brushing them aside as impossible.
But some of you know: It’s time. To make the call about that job. Or to start that ministry at church. To reach out to a potential friend, or finally make that appointment with a therapist.
It’s time to get in the water: And I know God will show up for you when you take this risky plunge. In fact, it might just be the beginning of your best adventure yet.
I pray you’ll have the courage to trust God, and go all in.