Hawaii 2018 Overcoming our fears
For most of my early life, I was deathly afraid of the of water. Even though I was born and raised in Florida, my parents own fear of water was passed down to my siblings and myself. I remember feeling embarrassed around other kids when I was in a pool or at the beach. Like – why am I so deficient that I can’t do what comes so easy to so many? When I was in my early 20s, I took a few lessons and started swimming a bit on my own, but I was always in a pool and stayed where I could touch the bottom. Even though I love the beach, I typically did not like being at the whim of the ocean’s constant ebb and flow and stayed safely near the shore.
However, God has this funny way of testing our limits and our boundaries of what we believe to be possible. At the ripe old age of 38, I started to slowly test my limits of this deep fear. I began to swim by myself at my pool in the deep end for a few months. Then I started to get a bit braver, considering going out into the ocean on my own. See, I typically would only go out into deeper water (esp in the ocean) if there was someone else with me. But one day, when I was meditating, I had perhaps one of my first talks with the Big Guy. I had been contemplating going out into the ocean to deeper water, but I was terrified and was going to ask a friend to join me. During this mediation, God conveyed to me – “Really Robin, you’re going to trust Joe (names have been changed to protect the innocent 😊) to save you and not me?” Duly noted God, duly noted.
One day soon thereafter, I put on my big girl panties and decided to go in the inlet all by myself for a quick swim. And guess what????? I survived!!!!!!! And I was actually pretty damn proud of myself. But oh, the work is not done quite yet. Next were my paddle boarding sojourns. For some of you, this may sound an easier feat, but you are talking to a newly reformed klutz. Before I started doing yoga 9 years ago I had about zero percent body awareness and was super ungrounded. This led to many embarrassing moments facilitated by falls, bumps, tumbles, and scrapes. So, I again pulled out my big girl panties and went paddle boarding. Even though my legs were shaking, and my heart was pounding in my chest – I absolutely loved it. Being out on the water, out in nature, doing something I never thought I would do, it was such a rush.
This is also about the time that I had the revelation that God puts these little way finders in our person. It’s like these hidden instruction manuals within each and every one of us. The things we are most afraid of, hold the key to our most liberating experiences. Given this great discovery, it should have come as no great surprise to me that during my stay in Maui I would want to BE in the ocean. Not my normal pansy ass shallow water kindof being, but swimming around and enjoying it like so many others are able to do. About halfway through my trip, I met a guy who had just moved out to Maui. During one of our conversations, he mentioned Napili Beach which I later discovered provided a gentler wave than some of the other beaches. Once again, I pulled out those panties and made my way to the little cove on the west side of the island.
While I was testing the waters a bit (no pun intended), I ended up floating near a family that had three little ones. The youngest of the 3, was a baby that looked to still be in diapers and probably wasn’t walking yet. The dad had a paddle board and was taking turns letting the kids go out with him. By the time the baby had her turn, I had swum pretty far out and was near the dad and little one. All of the sudden, very loudly and clearly I heard him say to her, “Remember what to do it you fall in the water? Just float and I’ll come get you.” Wow – if I didn’t lose my shit and start sobbing. As some of you may have experienced, God sometimes delivers us little messages through overheard conversations or little snippets that we pick up from strangers. This was apparently the message I needed to hear.
During these various opportunities to overcome this fear, the parallel between swimming and real life has not been lost on me. Swimming is more about faith, letting go and surrendering than I had previously known in my youth, which is probably why I used to suck at it. And actually, also indicative of my jacked-up belief that I needed someone else to save me. All we have to do is go with the flow, enjoy life and God will take care of the rest – He really has made our journey quite easy. However, it is human nature that turns our journey into something that is difficult beyond belief. He just asks that we surrender to his infinite love and grace, he’ll take care of the rest. So, when in doubt - just float, and he’ll come get you.