I just taught myself how to float today. I had my friend’s swimming pool all to myself as I am watching her house while she is out of town. So this afternoon I did some maintenance on the pool like vacuuming it, etc. It is an above ground, round, 18′ in diameter by roughly four feet deep pool. Now here is the thing. I can’t swim. I never have been able to swim. So much so that I have actually come very close to dying twice in my life in water.
The first time was when I was wading in this lake at a summer camp in North Carolina in Junior High. I stepped off into this hole right near the docks and absolutely no one was around to see me do it. I immediately sank, but managed to kick my way out of the hole and grab on to the dock and pull my butt out of the water. I was way more careful around water from then on.
Until, I found myself up in Massachusetts in college. Milton to be exact, just outside of Boston. I was up there to see this girl. Yeah, I was in the wrong place doing the wrong thing. Even more so because what was supposed to be just her and her best friend watching her best friend’s parent’s house turned into this massive pool party with 50 or more college age kids in attendance. Most likely without the knowledge of said parents. I never asked, actually.
Anyhow, the inner extrovert came out of me at this party, and no, I wasn’t drinking. I was in full control of myself at the time. We had this guy by his arms and legs, a bunch of us did. And we were swinging him back and forth at the edge of the diving end of the in ground pool. Well, some other folks at the party thought it would be really funny to tip us all over when we let go of the dude we were tossing in and were all off balance. So in we all went.
Only thing was, I didn’t know how to swim and being so close to the ocean, I was a rarity. Other problem, absolutely no one there knew I didn’t know how to swim. So when I start kicking and acting like I am drowning, everyone thought I was just horsing around, being a comedian. Everyone was still laughing about the whole event and no one could tell that I wasn’t playing.
Eventually, I got to the point where I just gave up struggling and I was face down in the water, submerged with arms extended and had stopped struggling. I was an atheist still at this point in my life so dying right then would not have been very good for my eternal soul but I wasn’t thinking about that then.
Suddenly, I felt something brush across the tips of my fingers and I began fighting/struggling again. I couldn’t see but I could tell someone was swimming towards me. It was a girl. Didn’t know who she was but I latched onto her with my arms and legs and we both began to sink. I then realized what I was doing to her and I eased up a bit which allowed her to get us both to the edge of the pool. I proceed to cough up all the water in my lungs at that point.
Turns out, she was a lifeguard and was the only one at the party who recognized I wasn’t playing. She wasn’t serving as a lifeguard at that party….there were no lifeguards….but she happened to be there and that happened to be her day job when she wasn’t going to school.
The Lord later brought all that up to me when I encountered Him much later in 1995, but that’s in my testimony. My point of giving you this back story is so that you can understand the immense joy I felt when, at the age of 47 in 2018, I not only taught myself how to float on my back in the water without freaking out when I realize there is nothing to grab a hold of, but that I was able to go one step further in the same day and do the back stroke. All on my own, just me and G-d there. And so I kept doing laps in the pool until finally I felt it in my arms and realized I better stop of the day if I don’t want to be in intense pain in the morning.
I’m joyous about it for two reasons. One, I can now swim to some capacity in the water, something I never thought I would ever be capable of doing. Two, I now have a new and very effective exercise that I can do that I really enjoy doing. I never have had a fear of water, mainly because I don’t fear the thought of dying. Not that I am trying to die or anything…lol, but when my time comes up it will be because the Lord is calling me home. I still have a lot to do here on this earth though, so hopefully that will be awhile still.
There is a spiritual lesson here though. For the first time ever, I completely overcame my self control issues and allowed myself to literally float and trust that I would indeed float and not sink like a rock or T-888 cyborg. I’m a pretty good size dude and in all of my past experience, I have always sank like a rock or a T-888 cyborg. We have to go beyond our past experience if we ever hope to truly connect with our Lord and Savior.