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about crying and swimming and God.




When I teach swim lessons, I have 8 or 9 days to get a kid to swim across the pool. This is easy for the 5 and 6 year olds. A little trickier for the 4 year olds.

As soon as I think a student is ready, I make them practice treading water (because swimming across the pool is useless if you don't know how to also keep your head above water).

The thing about treading water is that you can't learn to do it in shallow water. You just can't. If you can stand up, you'll stand up as soon as you get tired. So, I take my students to the 5 feet which is as deep as the current pool goes.

Some of my students are terrified of the deep end. 

I mean, terrified.
They think they are going to drown.
Their fear is absolutely valid because learning to swim is all a controlled kind of drowning. 

So, in the five feet, I make them tread water. This usually includes me prying their fingers off my arms, turning their body so they aren't facing me, and letting go. This way, they have to turn around before they can hold on again—and by then, I can step back and they can't reach me.

This may sound mean, but there are some things that cannot be explained. Learning to tread water is one of these things.

Anyways, there we are in the five feet. They are yelling for help and I'm counting to ten, or asking about their favorite animal, and they are crying at the top of their lungs. Other swimmers are staring. What my students don't realize is that if they can cry, they can breathe, which means—they are treading water.

Afterwards, they are usually super angry with me. They are so angry, sometimes it takes 3 or 4 days of repeating this short ritual for them to realize what they are doing is actually fun. 

In those 10 seconds where they fight through their fear and terror hard enough to yell at me for help or cry for help, I think about God, and how sometimes, he just cannot save us—not the way we want, because he's about to show us a skill which will provide us joyousness or peace or ability for our whole life! It's just scary to learn at first. It might feel like drowning. But, in not saving—he is creating.



And now for some pics of my brave students (whom I love):
















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