We love the pool. Well, THEY love the pool, I actually kind of hate it...in this stage of life at least. First there's the sunscreen. OH the sunscreen. Don't use the aerosol stuff, they say, because your precious children will inhale it and basically - you're killing them. But I have to cover FOUR BODIES with the stuff every time we venture out to the pool. So do I spend half an hour rubbing lotion in? Or tell them to hold their breath and then spray them down in a fraction of the time while the disapproving glances from fellow pool moms burn into the back of my head? And then there's the fact that I'm exhausting myself just to keep them alive. Emi throws a FIT if I put her in the float. But she'll aspirate water (and most certainly drown) if I left her to her own devices. Luke has waaaaaay too much faith in his swimming abilities - and in everything else he does. Caleb, while actually a decent swimmer, looks much like a drowning cat in the water which causes the lifeguards so much anxiety that I have to stay within arm's reach. And then there's Jenna - the one who gives me hope that one day I will enjoy the pool again. Maybe within the next decade...
But believe it or not, our pool experiences this summer have been very insightful, and God has used them to reveal truths to me that transcend the exhausting task of pool-side parenting. Early in the summer, Caleb's fear of the water was paralyzing. Donning a coast-guard approved life-jacket AND water wings, he clung to the side of the pool like his life depended on it. And then there was this one time where he slipped in the water (or he might have been pushed...the jury's still out on that one) sans flotation device. As I turned in response to his blood-curdling scream, I quickly realized he was in 3 feet of water. Caleb is almost 4 feet tall. Yep. So instead of jumping in to rescue him, I try to calmly tell him the solution to his predicament. "Put your feet down, son," I tell him. The screaming continues. I'm watching his feet and arms going every which way in the water below as he struggles to keep the head on his horizontal body from going under. "Put your feet down! You can touch!" I say. Much louder this time and with increasing frustration at the panic that has completely incapacitated him. "Stand UP, Caleb!!" By now it's more like a yell. I was watching my son drown himself in 3 feet of water. And those anti-spray-sunscreen moms are now about to report me to CPS. So I reach in, grab him and pull him up on the side. Please know that I do have a heart for my kids and their fears, no matter how irrational. But it tests every ounce of my patience to deal with a child that doesn't trust my words. It hurts, to be honest. I know what's best for them. I'm above the water, so to speak, always watching out for them. I can see the big picture. And I'd give my LIFE before I'd let anything happen to my babies. But in those moments of panic when they allow that fear to take them over, they don't listen and they don't trust.
So I dry him off and hug him tight, and as I hold him in my lap, my mind races with parallels. The pang of rejection I felt when he didn't trust me - his own MOM - echoed the sadness God must have felt in the Garden when Eve first doubted His love for her. And I find myself doing that very thing to Him every.single.day. The fact that Caleb was fully equipped to handle his situation (with legs long enough to touch the bottom of the pool) and was self-destructing in front of my eyes painfully reminded me of the times over the past year when I felt like I was floundering, wondering when God was going to jump in and rescue me, when He had already given me everything I needed to stand up and keep my head above the water. And just like I would have jumped in, hair and makeup and clothes and ALL, had Caleb truly been drowning, why for a moment would I doubt that my perfect heavenly Father would do the same for me?
Because I listen to the wrong voice.
I choose to believe the great deceiver that whispers the lies that cause us to doubt and to question and to rely on our own insufficient strength instead of listening to the quiet voice at the side of the pool saying, "Put your feet down, child. I'm right here next to you and I've completely equipped you to handle this very moment. You were born for this. Just trust Me and stand up."