When you go swimming, what is the first thing you do when you’re ready to get into the pool?
A counselor asked me that question a number of years ago. My answer was “If I know it’s a safe place, I dive in head first!” I admit I really enjoyed the look of exasperation on Jeff’s face. Ruining one of his “great lesson ideas” was a not so secret thrill of mine. He replied “No, you dip your toe in the water to test the temperature.” By now I was wondering who needed counseling because I was pretty sure I knew what I did when I went swimming. I knew he had a point, but I was enjoying my miniature victory. I have an all or nothing personality, and I take it to every area of my life from relationships, to projects, and even when it comes to swimming.
I spent countless hours swimming at my best friend’s house during my teen and college years. I still owe her parents money for all the pool water I swallowed. Her family became my family. Amber and I have two completely different approaches to getting in the pool. When it was time to swim, we’d grab our rafts and head into the pool for a relaxing afternoon. If I was getting in that water, I didn’t care if it was cold or warm, I was committed. See, I preferred to get the shock of cold water over with all at once. Amber had a different approach. By the time I made it to the diving board, she was standing on the steps with water barely covering her feet. I’d jump right in, scream from the shock of cold water, then do a few laps. By the time I was fully acclimated to the temperature, maybe Amber was up to her knees. I’d head to my pink raft. Once I successfully got on my raft (after falling off at least 7 times) it was time for tanning oil sunblock. On a good day Amber was waist deep then. By the time Amber’s sister and I were happily floating and sunning ourselves, Amber was sometimes completely in the pool. It took her longer to commit, but she was still all in. Now we got watch her to fall of her blue raft several times while we laughed at her. Then it was time for one of my favorite soul refreshing moments where it’s easy to find Jesus. We’d lay there trying to figure out what shapes the clouds made. (If you haven’t done that in a while, I strongly recommend it. You’re never too old to find a hippo-camel-butterfly-elephant in the sky. It’s very relaxing.)
When it comes to life, I could take a lesson from Amber (Ok two lessons. One being her regular use of sun block.) The other lesson fits into Jeff’s metaphor. I’ll admit he still had a good illustration even if I did throw him off for a few minutes. While it’s good to commit to something, It’s usually better to slowly test the waters, especially in a new relationship, including, professional, friendships, and romantic relationships. Back to that particular counseling session, I was frustrated because I trusted someone who seemed safe, but now I wasn’t so sure. Ok, more than unsure, I was convinced she was downright evil. I opened up my heart, and it felt like she stomped all over it and tore me to shreds. Jeff wanted me to see I needed to test the waters when it came to new relationships. If I dipped my toe in and found out it was too cold, it would be easy to back out. It would also be easier to slowly learn to trust someone instead of finding myself in over my head and freezing.
If someone appears “safe” to me. I have a tendency to forget my life is to be treasured, and I shouldn’t give every part of my heart, time, or emotions without carefully and slowly approaching a new relationship. Matthew 7:6 drives this point home for me.
Do not give what is holy to dogs or throw your pearls before pigs; otherwise they will trample them under their feet and turn around and tear you to pieces. NET
Just like a pearl necklace, you and I are treasures.
Unfortunately, not everyone sees the value in others. Our hopes, dreams, and secrets are something to be guarded until we know if someone is going to treat us with respect or tear us to pieces. That particular day, sitting in Jeff’s small office which was filled with a large amount of Chicago Cub’s memorabilia, I felt torn to pieces. I jumped in head first when I should’ve dipped my toe in the water.
What do you do when you find yourself in over your head and freezing? Sometimes it is necessary to get out of the water and walk away. This time, Jeff recommended I get out of the deep end, and try wading for a bit. He saw there was still potential in this relationship. I hadn’t opened up my entire life to this person, and maybe there was something worth sticking around for, if I took the time to slowly get to know her. It pains me to say this, but he was right. (Actually, I’m glad he was right, but I know being right fed his ego. At least my Yankees still have more World Series titles than his Cubs!) As I slowly let this woman into my life, I discovered she wasn’t as cold as I thought she was. Actually, she was rather warm and welcoming. In time she became someone I could share my heart with, and she treated me like a treasure. We just got off to a bad start because I dove in head first. She didn’t know how to relate to me, and I didn’t know how to relate to her. In the end, she made a huge impact on my life, and I’ll forever be grateful. She showed Jesus to me in many painful moments.
Remember to see yourself as a valuable treasure worth guarding. Take your time before you open yourself up to someone. Make sure she sees you as you really are.
You are treasured by God.
You’re important to me! Please leave a comment so we can connect. I’d love to know, when it comes to swimming, are you a “dive in head first” or a “slowly wade in” kind of person. Also, let me know if there’s something you’d like me to talk about in a future blog post.