Frost. It's beautiful, isn't it? I love the way that the layer of frost on a car in the morning following a cold night, looks like a sheet of tiny diamonds. This morning, I took the time to go for a walk before Church, feeling the need to get out and breathe in some crisp, Winter air. I have neglected my camera lately, with the short days that give way all too quickly to darkness, making photography far less enjoyable for me. I need the natural light. I've missed taking photos, so I picked my camera up on my way out of the house, hoping to capture a little bit of beauty. The frost was all I managed to capture.
On Friday, I started writing a blog post to participate in Five Minute Friday, but never finished it. The word prompt was Dive. The tangent that my words took me on was not where I expected the post to go. I didn't hit publish, feeling like it was an incomplete piece of writing. Instead, I have let it sit, the memory that I started writing about, coming back to me at different points throughout the weekend. By the time five minutes had passed, this was the story that I had started to remember:
'I have never jumped from a diving board before. A part of me wonders how much this has to do with a childhood experience. One of our neighbours took me swimming with his daughter. I was 6, maybe a little older or younger. He tried to convince me to jump from the top diving board. I told him I could not swim very well and I had never done it before. He kept encouraging me to 'just try', boasting about his diving accomplishments. But I knew my limits, even at this age. I knew it would not be safe, and I didn't want to drown. I stood my ground, then, once he had relented, slipped into the deep end of the pool, which was daunting, but just a little less scary than the prospect of falling uncontrollably from the height of the diving board.
His actions have always seemed irresponsible to me. Why would you encourage a child to do something that is not safe? His assurance of my safety seemed to be based on his confidence in his own ability to rescue me if anything went wrong. It is from a place of safety that we can feel free to dive into unknown waters and places, not out of fear.'
These January days have felt all too full of work, and not a lot else. I haven't baked anything, I haven't had any words to write in this space; I haven't been running (my lungs are not especially healthy right now). I feel like I have done little besides living through the day to day routine of work, chores, eat and sleep. As I have pottered about our home this evening, thoughts of the week ahead swirling around my head as I gathered the laundry and picked up the pieces of my work that have spread around our living spaces, I wondered, 'how is it possible to feel on top of all of this? Does anyone ever feel 'on top' of everything they are juggling? Is this really about feeling on top of everything, or learning how to thrive in the midst of it all.' The analogy of keeping one's head above water came to mind, and that's when all of the fragmented pieces slotted together.
The story about my neighbour encouraging me to dive - to go beyond what I knew I could do because I knew that it would not be safe - I opted for the only way out that I could see: jump in the deep end, and hope against hope that I would be ok. Even though I knew my limitations, I still needed rescuing. I couldn't swim, and I didn't know how to get back up to the surface of the water. I had no idea that all I needed to do was to kick my legs and push my arms up towards the surface, and I would reach the surface. I didn't know that I had all that I needed to survive, and unknowingly relied on the discernment of another to see that I was in need of rescuing before it was too late.
Sometimes, all we need is a bit of encouragement and inspiration to help a little when motivation is lacking. But misplaced encouragement in a risky situation? That's a little dangerous. Perhaps this wondering and wandering through January is about figuring out what it is I need to thrive. Perhaps I have everything I already need, I just need to lift my gaze Heavenward and listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, knowing that I have already been rescued through Jesus, and that is something I can and will rejoice in for the rest of my life. Thankfully, encouragement from God is never misplaced or dangerous. It is only ever trustworthy and true.