This is the face of a little girl in a little pain, and a little frustration. This is the face of a little girl after her first swim lesson.
The lesson ended in tears and the exclamation that she never wanted to swim again.
“They made me put my face in the water. I had water in my nose and I couldn’t keep it out.”
And the toes. Do you remember when you were little and swam and scraped your toes on the bottom of the pool? Do you remember those little sores, the little raw circles on the bottom of your toes?
Yep. All ten toes now have waterproof bandaids.
As we walked away from the lesson, tears still dripping down her cheeks, I told her,
“Sometimes we have to do a little hard work and something not too fun so we can have lots of fun in the end.”
She’s almost four. She has no idea what I mean…not really.
I meant it, though, even in the simplicity of swimming lessons. This life of ours requires discipline, it requires sacrifice and it requires some not too fun things all done with the hope of success and growth.
Sometimes we have to set aside the fun activity to complete the necessary activity. In the end the things that are not as fun can give us room for other things: taking care of the household chores leaves us a space where we can relax and rest, taking the time for study enriches our brains and sets the stage for creativity and imagination and curiosity.
Sometimes we have to put to death our flesh in order to see the Spirit come alive.
Sometimes we have to do the hard work before we see the growth.
But, to be honest, there are days (weeks? months? years?) where it feels as though everything is the hard work and nothing is enjoyment or growth. That is when we have to listen well; we have to pay attention.
“Listen to your life. Listen to what happens to you because it is through what happens to you that God speaks . . . It’s in language that’s not always easy to decipher, but it’s there, powerfully, memorably, unforgettably.”
Even today. Even in the difficult times and the joyful times…God is speaking.
Even when we give advice to four year olds when we really are talking to ourselves.
The next day? She jumped in the water and came up laughing. She was the first one in line for the slide, even though it meant going deep under the water for her. She came up with joy and had already forgotten the tears. After the second day the exclamation was, “When can we do this again!”