I realized as I plopped Claire down on the changing table in the family locker room after swim class that I’d forgotten to be self-conscious in my swim suit. I had spent the entire 45 minutes laughing with, and cheering for my girl. She was the cutest thing I’d ever seen in a swimming pool! She loved the splashing and kicking and the wet high-fives from the other little ones. She kicked her chubby little legs like a pro, hung on to the wall of the pool with her incredible baby strength, and jumped to me at the end of “Humpty Dumpty Sat On a Wall” without a trace of fear. She turned her wet and squirmy body several times to hug and kiss me. You know, that open-mouth-tongue-sticking-out kind of kiss… the one I cannot resist! It was absolutely the highlight of my week, until I saw us both in the mirror, hair wet and sticking to our faces, dripping with chlorine water. Ugghh… I’m still me!
I’m still the me, curvy shapes and all, that should not be allowed in public in a swimming suit. The me that hasn’t been in a pool or to a beach of any kind in the last three years because I knew I was not in the shape I should be. And yet, I had just had the time of my life with my little girl in the pool. For once I had forgotten what I looked like, self-consciousness gone, and enjoyed every moment! Despite my fears, not once did Claire roll her eyes at me or look at me in my swim suit with sheer embarrassment … It wasn’t about me!
Self-consciousness and insecurity lead to isolation. We don’t want people to know the parts of us that are inadequate, the ways we don’t measure up to our own expectations, so we avoid the situations where those things might be exposed. For me, it’s the swimming pool. And what got me into that pool had nothing to do with me. I signed us up for that class because I wanted to spend some time enjoying my daughter without other distractions. I wanted for her to learn how to be in the water without fear and to meet some other little babies. I want the very best for her in all of the little ways I can give it to her. It was then, when I stopped worrying about myself, that I came out of that place of isolation and insecurity and jumped into that pool with my little girl. And I had a blast!
We’re preparing again for the next season of Growth Groups and it occurs to me that self-consciousness and insecurity have kept a lot of people from experiencing one of my very favorite things. I hear it all the time…
“I’m not good enough to be a leader.”
“I don’t know that much about the Bible.”
“What if my idea for a group is dumb?”
“I’m not good at _____________”
We fear that we will be judged in the same way that we judge ourselves, maybe even in the same way we judge others, so we avoid it altogether. It’s safer alone, where nobody can see our frailties. It’s easier to stick to the people we already know, the people who may not challenge us, or who always agree with us… But that is no way to live!
Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another....
– Hebrews 10:23-25
– Hebrews 10:23-25
As much as there is risk, there is so much joy and vitality of life when we choose to look beyond our selves and get around other people. How very much life I would miss out on, especially with Claire, if I never jumped in the pool.