A big, smiling welcome to you! This post is part of a series I’m working my way through in the month of October, called Swim Your Own Race. If you’d like to start at the beginning (it is a very good place to start, after all) you can do so, right here.
Yesterday the love the God of the universe has just for teeny, fleeting, rare, precious you was the topic of discussion. If you missed it, I hope you’ll go back and have a look, because His love for us is so central to our understanding our life as Christians and our interactions with Him.
Now let me tell you a little something that might be new about competitive swimming. When you first dive into the water to start a race, it is a great, great, feeling. Water whooshes past you on every side, and as you exhale that deep breath you’ve been holding since before the plunge, little bubbles surround you and dance their way toward your toes. All the noise from above the water is a distant murmur. You can almost feel alone. Peaceful. But you know there’s a race, and you’ve got to get started, so with a few underwater kicks, you’re up and as you take your first breath the rising noise is there to greet you.
In high school, our swim coach usually walked alongside the length of the pool with us as we raced. If he wanted us to pick up our pace, each time we took a breath he’d shout out this indiscriminate “Uhhht!” sound that would get a little faster and a little faster. He cheered us to victory and walked with us through defeat. His hand signals and facial expressions were enough to tell me how it was going.
Sometimes I think my life could use a coach, too.
Some days I feel like I’m barely making it through and the things on my to-do list are staring me in the face.
But an interesting thing happened a few weeks ago. It was my birthday, and I woke up in the morning, just happy and certain it was going to be a good day. The Hubs made a special breakfast for me and it was wonderful. I still had things to do around the house, and I still spent time homeschooling the Bear. My Mom came over with lunch and gifts, and it was wonderful and I was happy. There were still tasks on my to-do list, still things waiting for me to get done, but I realized I was deliberately choosing to enjoy the day, rather than to allow the things waiting for my attention to draw me away from enjoying the moment.
I tidied up around the house and a friend stopped by for a chat with a gift. Precious!! I made dinner for the children before the Hubs and I went out to dinner. My heart stayed joyfully present in all the special moments throughout the day. I decided I could only get so much done in 24 hours, and that would have to be good enough because it was my birthday.
But here’s the question. Is the 18th of September really so very different from the 19th?
Can I not find joy, can I not deliberately choose to enjoy a day — even if it’s not my birthday?
This is where having a Coach really comes in handy. They often help you to recognize your patterns – especially the not-so-good-ones.
In swimming, I once had the habit of slightly rotating sideways while doing a flip turn at the wall. While a slight rotation might not seem like a big deal, it was taking me longer than it could have to make that flip before pushing off the wall and continuing the race. Losing time in the pool is a problem. My coach saw this problem that I couldn’t really see for myself, pointed it out, and helped me work on correcting it.
In life, I have developed the pattern of waking up stressed. Instead of organizing tasks and reminding myself that I can only accomplish so much in 24 hours, I scurry around throughout the day, homeschooling and trying to get a few other things done during “independent work” moments, cooking and planning a menu and simultaneously trying to answer an email.
I’ve let the task list discourage me so much that I’m forgetting, I can choose to enjoy today.
What might my Coach say about this pattern? I discussed it with him and this is what I felt led to pray:
“Dear Lord, Some of these days I feel like I’m barely making it through. Help me to *remember Your goodness & faithfulness* and to let that perspective change the way I view my life. Your gifts are so good. Even with the challenge of settling my Dad’s estate lingering all these months later, I know this is according to Your purposes. Holy & Awesome God, help me to find perspective.”
This morning, I scurried outside long before the sun came up to catch a glimpse of the lunar eclipse. The “Blood Moon” was supposed to be a strange and interesting sight, and I wanted to see it. The moon had been out my back window, bright and bold the night before, but this morning, I searched the sky and couldn’t find it. I went out into the backyard and searched in every direction, until finally, just through the trees I saw a bright reddish brown light. As I backed up further and further, so my perspective changed, and above the trees, there was the “Blood Moon,” reddish brown, and eerily glowing.
It was there all along — but I would never have seen it if I hadn’t looked for the light, and changed my perspective.
I also would’ve missed this moment on the journey if I’d allowed the task list of the day to stop me from going outside.
The Father, God, is the one who welcomes the prodigal home with open arms. He gives us more than we believe we deserve, and sees us as intrinsically valuable — worthy of the gift of the life of His Son. He is the Coach that’s cheering us on, waiting for us at the finish. If we spend time with Him, while He is an almighty King, He can also be the Coach that comes alongside us, helps us to see our blindspots, wrong patterns, and incorrect perspectives.
When we find our way into His presence, He reminds us that He’s really the only one we need to worry about pleasing. We can choose to enjoy each day, not worried about how other people feel about our actions or decisions. If His heart is at the center of ours, we can be confident that we’re on the right track.
That moment when you first dive into the water and the bubbles surround you and the silence feels like a peaceful haven is full of a unique joy you often want to stay in. But you can get so focused in on the race — and focus is important — that you completely forget to enjoy the moments you spend racing. As you turn your head to the left or the right, every breath is a gift, as the air fills your lungs and empowers you to keep going.
There is joy at the beginning, but there is joy for the journey, too. Lean heavily on the Coach that can teach you to relax, to remember that life is not an emergency, and to enjoy the journey.
Enjoy your swim today, friends.