I never learned to swim when I was a child. We just never went swimming often enough for me to learn. I never felt safe in the water until I went in with my husband. He was sensitive to my fears while he helped me to become more comfortable in the water.
Larry loves the water - boating, fishing, swimming, water-skiing - he did it all. And with such confidence. Though he did not fear the water he did respect it. I wanted our son to possess that same confidence and respect for the water that his father had. My husband signed him up for lessons at the local YMCA when he was four years old. And even though there were two instructors for the class, it was Larry that pulled our son up from the bottom of the pool when he slipped himself off the edge. Our son was safe because Larry was right there with him. It was then, at the age of thirty eight, that I was determined that I would finally learn. I signed up as well.
I am not now, nor will I ever be a 'natural' swimmer. There are some that feel at home in the water. I am not one of them. I lost a brother in a drowning accident. There are legitimate reason that I am not at ease in the water. I may never be able to save anyone, but I don't want it to be because i was too to make the effort to learn.
While attempting to learn to dive into the pool, my instructor was completely dumbfounded that I could not make myself just do it. Standing there at the edge just thinking about going head first into the water. it gave me great anxiety. I told her that though I am standing there, telling myself to just jump, envisioning myself doing it, my body refused to move from its position. I simply could not do it.
She could not understand. Looking at me incredulously she asked, 'This?'... like it was nothing. She was simply incapable of understanding. It is difficult to teach when you cannot empathize with the student's anxiety, or confusion, or whatever it is that is standing in the way. It is not always something that can be explained. But it is very real. She requested the assistance of another instructor. She could empathize a bit better. Then with great patience, the new instructor finally discovered a technique that worked for me. Eventually, I did learn to dive off the edge and swim across the pool.
I find myself in a similar place now. Only this time, I am the one that cannot understand. the one who is confidently assured, the one who knows that what I am trying to do is absolutely safe. Contrary to simply dealing with a fearful 'student', it is agencies and stubborn attitudes. Perhaps experience has given legitimate reason for apprehension. Like my empathetic instructor, I can see that the concerns, though very real... though they may be based on experience... they are fears about what has happened in the past... or fears about what they believe could happen.
I understand. I was there on the edge of the pool with those same anxieties... and I chose to jump. I chose not to concentrate on my fears but on my goal. In my head I recite Phil 4:13, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I knew there were safeguards and chose to focus on them. i knew that I would be safe. In spite of my fear, I jump.
While in a lesson, the instructor was sharing how she had to tread water for an hour to pass her test. An hour! How could she have done that? She did it because she didn't have a choice if she was to become an instructor. She didn't just give up and quit.
I have been treading water for the past two and a half years. Patiently (and sometimes not-so-patiently) waiting to be approved to visit my husband. I can keep doing it for as long as I have to. I shouldn't have to, but I will.
I will continue until someone finally tells me I have passed this imaginary test and that I can visit my husband. I through the strength and grace of God will not just quit.