For the past few summers, my good friend and I would pick a day for her to come over and bring her two young kids to swim in my mom's pool. The pool was nothing to write home about, just a 4-foot deep, above ground, run of the mill backyard pool, but more 'pool' than my friend had or her kids were used to swimming in.
At one point in our fun, my friend was swimming with her son on one end of the pool, and I had her daughter at the ladder on the other end.
"Jump in," I encouraged her with my arms out. I witnessed her face twisted in worry, nervous I was somehow NOT going to catch her or that my whole supportive demeanor was a big fat lie - that I was waiting to 'trick' her and pull my arms away and watch her sink to the bottom once she made the leap.
I saw her fear. I watched her fidgety, physical manifestation of doubt. She didn't trust me, or the water, or that she'd make it out alive...but of course, I knew she would. In fact, I knew she would have fun and take adventurous water risks once she understood I would be there, strong and steadfast, as she splashed and played and dunked and tried.
"C'mon, jump in," I encouraged again, but this time, I saw her start to tear up. The fear had become too great alongside my gentle egging on...
That's when I said something that felt channeled through me from a higher power. Yes, the words came from me, and they were exactly what I knew to be true and how I felt about the situation, but when the sound waves travelled out of my mouth through the air, it felt as though what I said was also said to me, through me. Like the message hit its target, but also echoed back and was said to me.
The message to my friend's daughter was...
"Why are you afraid? Don't you know how much I love you? I'm here, and I will catch you."
Three simple sentences, and after they were said I saw all the tension in her face and shoulders loosen up. Like a warm blanket on a cold night, her heart spread into the idea and she relaxed: Oh, she loves me, of course she loves me, how silly of me to think otherwise. I am safe with her, she won't let me drown.
With that she jumped in, made a splash, smiled at the relief that it wasn't a trick, and laughed because it was fun, but also a little at herself for the silliness of the original doubt. It was a marvelous thing to experience.
That particular summer came after a spring filled with a debilitating wave of anxiety for me (I called it The Great Anxiety of 2014), what I said to my friend's daughter in the pool that day felt like it was what God had wanted to say to me for the many months prior filled with fear, doubt, and worry about my life: "Why are you afraid? Don't you know how much I love you? I'm here, and I will catch you."
2018 has been just as hard (maybe harder) than The Great Anxiety of 2014, because when these things come back around (and they always do, don't they) it feels like what you thought you tapped into that 'worked' really didn't have any long lasting effect at all...
...and that only intensifies the fidgety, physical manifestation of doubt. I don't trust The Universe, or that I'll make it out alive...I feel like everything is a big fat lie - that every decision I need to make is a trick and when I leap, The Universe will pull its arms away and watch me sink to the bottom.
The message that day to my friend's daughter was trying to get me to realize that SOMETHING WAY BIGGER THAN ME IS THERE, always, WAITING TO CATCH ME. Once I trusted in its strength and steadfast frame, I would be able to have fun and take adventurous risks and 'splash' and 'play' and 'dunk' and try - every day, all the time.
Some days it's easier to internalize than others.
In this season of life - with John and I broken up, the loneliness feeling unbearable at times, being well into my 30s, not getting any younger, wondering when I won't need to waitress anymore, and what's next for my career - I've been more lost than ever. There is SO MUCH FEAR, I am trembling from it.
But that's when I remember the something I once said that eased my anxiety, the something I once said that eased my friend's daughter's anxiety - and the key for me in the whole thing was how much I meant it.
Because I felt how true it was to me, I can understand how true it is FOR me as well. // I'm going to leave it right there, at that. xoxo