What is the best way to learn to swim in the ocean?
I would venture to say that the toddler pool would not be very helpful. Even going as far as the adult pool, maybe the 8-12 foot deep end, would not be enough.
Why? Well, for one thing the ocean is vastly deep and often rough. Undertow can end the life of the most strong swimmers, not to mention the wildlife swimming below. A clean, chlorinated community pool is not the same. Not even close.
To be a strong swimmer in the ocean requires understanding of the behavior of the waters and wildlife, and incredible strength to withstand the pummeling of large waves.
One has to study and and train in order to survive the wild.
Lately I have been pondering this reality. As I prepare to launch my firstborn into adulthood and strive to educate my younger children I have seen a common thread woven throughout this season of life.
We avoid boredom like the plague. We don’t know what to do with it. Stillness makes us unsettled and we rescue ourselves from it with the click of a smartphone.
Just look to your left or right at any intersection. Most people cannot handle even one minute of boredom, pulling out their phone to fill the empty space until the light turns green. Dead air on the radio for more that two seconds will prompt us to change the channel.
Even our children, with fresh and creative minds so able to learn and explore, are taught to turn to video games and television because the adults find it easier…less messy…more quiet in the house when the headphones are on and the controller is clicking away.
We have shelves full of books that sit unread. Art supplies still in their original packaging, purchased with great intentions but rarely used. Yet we scroll. We click.
And we die.
We were created for more. We live in a tumultuous and rocky world. An ocean of culture and change lies before us but we don’t know how to swim in it. Our minds numb, becoming accustomed to shallow waters, bright floaties and chaise lounges while our surroundings succumb to the flood.
We can’t even tread water.
But we can change this. What if we choose excellence? What if we listen, read and learn and bless our minds with strong tools for survival? What if we study the dark spiritual waters and learn how to swim in them, to stay afloat and rescue others who are sinking? The specifics are up to you and me. Only we know ourselves and where we have neglected good and necessary growth. But I suggest we begin by seeking God, diving into the Scriptures and letting the outflow of that affect our choices in entertainment, media and education. We learn to allow ourselves to sit in boredom, to become contemplative in those awkward moments and let it result in growth and creativity.
My goodness, imagine what we might hear from the Lord if we give Him a quiet space in which to speak!
“Be still and know…”
Turn away from foolish things and look to the good, true and beautiful. Retrain our minds to look inward and evaluate ourselves before looking outward for a quick fix at the stop light.
Let silence ring loud in our ears and listen…
We can hear ourselves breathing. We might even hear our own hearts beating.
Build strong spiritual muscles in those moments and swim out into the deep, unafraid when the shore disappears because we have trained and are ready. Truth is our guide and Jesus is our light piercing the darkness.
We were born for more than a quick fix. Don’t settle any longer.