I’m not a fan of water. Our bad relationship started in my youth while I was taking swim lessons. I was taking the lessons because my mom, who was afraid of water and never learned to swim, wanted to make sure that my sisters and I would be safe anytime we were around water.
On the final day of one of my classes, I was informed that, in order to pass to the next level, I had to jump off the 10-foot diving board. That was a problem. You see, I don’t like heights, and I definitely didn’t like the thought of taking a 10-foot free fall into the water. I knew that much.
I reluctantly made it up the ladder and then hesitantly walked as far as the edge of the board. I looked down at the water far below and quickly decided that moving from a guppy to a minnow on the swim lesson hierarchy just wasn’t worth it. Unfortunately, my instructor had a different idea and “helped” me jump off the diving board.
All I remember was hitting the water and then sinking. I was shocked, terrified, and not a strong enough swimmer to make it back to the surface. Luckily, my older sister Beth was nearby and jumped in to save the day.
From that moment on, water and I began our love/hate relationship. I went on to finish what my parents felt was an acceptable number of swimming levels, but, believe me, I did so begrudgingly. I have continued to swim over the years, but it is definitely not my activity of choice.
Softening of the Heart
With age comes wisdom, and, over the years, I have softened in my feelings about water.
Both in life and in our faith, water is kind of a big deal. It is essential for life, and up to 60 percent of the human body is made up of water. And in the Bible, water is mentioned a total of 722 times—more frequently than faith, hope, prayer, and worship.
I have come to be more aware and open to the many roles water has played in my life—both good and bad. I think of the water that sustained my kids inside my pregnant belly. I celebrate the water that was poured over my children’s heads at their Baptisms, yet mourn the water that was sprinkled over my dad’s casket during his funeral last year. I curse my kids’ extremely long showers, but celebrate that we are blessed with the resources that allow them to do that. In a complete turnaround, even I now find comfort in the water.
A Working Relationship
It came when our family bought a hot tub. It was mostly my husband, Mark, and the kids who pushed for it. I was still kind of holding a grudge against water and refused to acknowledge that it could be a place of peace. But Mark finally won me over when he suggested the warm water might help with the pain and stiffness caused by my multiple sclerosis. I reluctantly agreed to give it a shot. And, as much as I hate to admit it, he was right.
I didn’t jump right in when it came, though, but rather after a particularly painful night. I got up early and headed to the backyard in hopes that I could find some comfort in the warm waters. It worked and suddenly it became a ritual. I found myself soaking in the early morning hours, well before the noise and activity of the day began. That time has brought me much more than physical relief, though. It has also become my place of prayer, reflection, comfort, and healing.
In those waters, I find both physical and mental relief. And, after all these years, I can say that water and I are in a good place with each other.