When I was a little girl my mom enrolled us in swimming lessons every summer. Even after we were able to swim, she continued to enroll us. It may have been that we loved it, it was summer camp activities or that she wanted to be sure we knew how to swim. I remember one lesson better than all of the others: learning to tread water. More important than the backstroke, butterfly or the breast stroke, treading water could save your life when you were in danger. I can vividly recall the day I had to tread water for a certain amount of time in order to pass the swim test. When you tread, you move your arms and legs in certain ways to keep your body vertical. You are moving, but your body stays in the same place and you are able to keep your head above water. Little did I know that treading water would be used in my life in more ways than one.
“All hell has broken loose.”
These were the words spoken by a dear friend of mine on the other end of the telephone line this morning. In fact, I have spoken this phrase more times than I can count. Maybe you have been there, when you feel like one more thing couldn’t possibly go wrong. The odds do not appear to be “Ever in your favor.” The shear magnitude, weight and stress of it all makes you just want to go belly up. You can’t take one more bit of bad news, one more stressful decision or possibly muster up the energy to do one more thing and God forbid you have to slap on that “I’m ok” smile for a single other soul when inside you’re screaming “If you only knew…”
You have two decisions to make: 1) Give up or 2) Tread Water.
Throwing in the towel, giving in to your desires or diving straight into self -condemnation and harm seems like the easiest thing. It is. Floating is always easier.
The real growth the real fight is when we tread water.
According to an article on ehow.com here are some important notes about treading water:
“When treading water, your body pushes against the water, increasing resistance and ultimately burning more calories.”
"Water's continuous resistance forces you to engage more muscle fibers through a larger range of motion."
“People underestimate the effort treading water requires. This form of exercise takes strength and stamina to sustain a moderate or fast pace. As a person builds strength treading water, the ability to maintain the motion for longer periods will increase.”
See, when you are treading, your body is working, strengthening, increasing flexibility and building muscles in important places. When you feel like you’re not moving you’re gaining so much more…you are keeping your head above water to breathe. You are conditioning yourself to endure it. It is exercising those muscles of strength, trust, dependence and faith.
Treading is not fighting, nor is it giving up…it is meant to sustain. You can endure longer if you can keep your head above the water to breathe. If you fight too hard, you’ll grow weary fast and if you only go belly up and float, you can’t see where you are going.
The thing is, we need to exercise those muscles because we NEED the endurance.
“For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.” Hebrews 10:36 (ESV)
“We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.” Colossians 1:11-12 (The Message)
Don’t forget that you have a swim instructor and a lifeboat.
“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Romans 15:4 (ESV)
Tread on, sweet friends.
A fellow member of the swim team,