Saturday, March 8, 2014

When I grow up...

She is dressed up in a pretty blue dress with lacy ruffles on her white socks. Confidently, she walks across the stage to the little microphone stand in front of the big audience. With a sweet, enthusiastic joy in her voice she announces, "When I grow up, I want to be a swimming lesson teacher!"

Of all the things I could be, I chose to announce to the world... err, the parents of the kids at my Christian school's  kindergarten... that I wanted to be a swimming lesson teacher! All my classmates said things like "doctor", "fireman", and "policeman". Smart jobs. Good, sustainable jobs. I aspired to be a mere, slutty (but tan), swimming lesson teacher. Hey, at least I was original right?

Fast forward nearly 20 years later.

I walk into the counseling room of a clinic and there sits a 15 year old girl. She is looking intently with fear filled eyes at two little pink lines on a pregnancy test. She begins to feel her world crash down around her and she begins to drown in the shock, sadness and uncertainty that awaits her in the weeks ahead. She glances up at me with eyes brimming with tears and cries, "I can't do this."

It's my first day at a new job that I have eagerly anticipated beginning. I walk in, unsure if I really have what it takes to do it. Several hours later, the house is trashed, there is blood and tears, and the fire alarm that will not cease. The police arrive, as do the fire fighters, and the ambulance takes one of our own to the hospital. The fire fighter silences the alarm and the police man begins to take statements. No arrests were made that night. No one was injured beyond recovery, physically. Time would tell what damage was done emotionally. The police man looks at me and asks, "Did they prepare you for this in school?"

Today, my reply would be a resounding "Yes!"

I am a swimming lesson teacher.
The doctors, policemen, and fire fighters are definitely necessary, and I hope my classmates followed through on their dreams and aspirations. However, my call in life is to be a swimming lesson teacher.

I have acted as the life guard on many occasions. I have dove in and rescued and resuscitated the drowning. Immediately after the life has flooded back into their eyes though, I begin to teach them to swim.

Life is hard sometimes. Wind pushes you down and the waves pull you under. Lightening strikes, thunder roars, and people get scared. They dive in to pools that are deeper than they expected and panic when they realize their feet can't touch the bottom. The ocean has a way of making people feel really small and helpless.
Life is kinda like the ocean.

It is my joy to teach others to swim through the ocean of change, depression, insecurity, and divorce. It is my joy to swim next to them as they battle waves of addiction, anger, and anxiety. When a wave pulls them under, I am exceedingly pleased to be the hand that pulls them out from under the water. I am so honored to be able to hand others the life preserver of the Gospel and show them the way to Hope.

My name is Joy, and I am a swimming lesson teacher. 

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