When you don’t do anything.

I, I love you
When you don’t
When you don’t do anything
When you’re useless
I love you more
When you don’t do anything

When you don’t move, when you don’t try
When you don’t say anything
When you don’t move, when you don’t win
When you don’t make anything look

I, I love you
When you don’t
When you don’t do anything
When you don’t want, when you don’t lie
When you don’t make any sense
When you don’t go, when you don’t hide
When you don’t think anything

I, I love you
When you don’t
When you don’t do anything
When you’re useless
I love you more
When you don’t do anything – Sam Phillips “Don’t Do Anything”

When I mentioned that back in June that I had taken a swimming lesson, I, uh, somehow neglected to tell you that I sat next to the pool and had an honest-to-goodness panic attack beforehand. Part of it was embarrassment that I was 29 (I was still 29 then, just barely) and didn’t really know how to swim, and part of it was that I am generally bad in the water, and part of it was fear of looking stupid, and part of it was just plain fear that I wouldn’t be able to do it. The pool is supposed to be a lounging place, and I was sitting there quietly crying because I was too scared to enjoy it. In the end, Mike had to get in with me, and the teacher was incredibly nice and made me feel so much better about my lack of skills. I have practiced, and though I never really managed to get the breathing part down, I will be ready to try again next summer.

I am not a bold person when it comes to trying new things. Little things like calling people I don’t know. Medium-sized things like taking a swimming lesson at the age of 29. (You might think that’s a small one, but to me it was at least medium-sized.) And big things like, oh, I don’t know, making new friends or changing jobs or moving . . . those things terrify me. I like safety, security, plans, and to-do lists.

I have thought a lot this summer about fear. I started that post talking about the high dive, and all summer I watched kids (and adults) run off it. Or pencil. Or flip. Or do the can opener. Or, my personal favorite, the cannonball. I wanted to join in the fun, but I was scared. It’s so high! Ten feet! During my last week of summer vacation, though, I told Mike I was going to do it. I climbed the ladder and took a few steps until I was out over the water. It was so blue and clear. And so, so far away. My legs started shaking. I made small jokey talk with the lifeguard about how she might need to rescue me. I held onto my suit (modesty before even fear) and jumped. When I came up, the lifeguard said, “Was it fun?” Fun? Fun was beside the point. This was about letting that high dive know who was boss! I will get back to you when I have finally decided which one of us that is.

Mike and my family and even God, they love me when I don’t do anything. It didn’t matter to Mike if I just wanted to sit beside the pool all day. It didn’t matter to him if I didn’t want to go off the high dive. What mattered to him was that I was afraid to try. He wants me to be happy . . . but not stagnant. I know, because that’s what I want for him. If he feels that way, if that’s what the people who care about me want for me, how much more must God both love me and want me to grow? I know those things. Sometimes they don’t make it into my heart, but I know them. They are the things that help me make sense of life’s challenges. I don’t want to turn everything into a “teachable moment,” but thinking through what I have learned and how I have grown and changed gives me a greater sense of peace and perspective.

This is going to be a challenging school year, because I am going to be trying a lot of new things. I think, though, that the people around me want me to succeed, and I am going to need their help both to get through and to be bold. When we left the pool that day, the lifeguard who did not have to save me was sitting at the front desk. She grinned at me and waved, something she’d never done before. It hadn’t occurred to me until just then that one of the benefits of being brave is that you start collecting people who are rooting for you.

highdive

(That’s not me. I just wanted you to see how high it is.)

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