Spiritual Growth, Triathlon Training

Swimming with Sharks and staying alive

Tri swimLately, I have been feeling like Dora from the movie Finding Nemo swimming in shark infested waters.  My natural reaction is to swim as fast as I can, as far as I can.  It’s the logical thing to do when confronted with harm and danger. But, instead, I’ve decided to stay and swim.  In this situation I had to choose.  Sometimes we don’t have a choice and we must stay and swim.  If you too are swimming in shark infested waters, here are somethings I’ve learned. I hope they will help you swim strong too.

* Realize where you are swimming!  See the sharks.  Recognize the situation.  Listen.  Observe.  Assess. Take your time in doing this.  Don’t rush it.  Listening and observing can be like peeling layers off an onion. Accept the truth that actions and behaviors show.  Talk is cheap and often contradicts behavior and actions.

*Now, it’s time to ask the question do I swim away  or do I stay and swim ? As a Christ follower, I can’t determine this on my own.  I have to ask Christ!  If He says stay I stay.  If He says swim away, I swim away. There is a time for staying and a time for swimming away.  Be sure you make the right decision here. Again, take your time. You may take a few bites and the water may get a little bloody; but if this is a “stay” situation and you swim away…guess what?  You’ll get another “opportunity” to swim with the sharks again sooner or later!

*If the answer is swim away – by all means swim away with everything you have.  You can stop reading right now!

*If Christ is keeping you in the waters; then Christ also has a way for you to swim!  Again, ask Christ to show you how to do this!  He will.  If He has told you to stay and swim, you can count on a few very important things:

1.  That He has indeed prepared you for this swim.  You are ready.

2.  That you will need to keep your eyes on Him and not the sharks.

3.  That you will have to want to please Him more than you want to defend yourself or run the other direction.

 

During my triathlon days, I reached a point in my swimming ability where I needed to change my approach to the swim portion of the race.  Prior to this point, I had usually swam off the back of my swim wave.  I had not been a strong swimmer and swimming off the back kept me out of the fray of people kicking and shoving and struggling at the start of the swim.  But, I was, at this point not longer able to swim off the back because I was now both a strong swimmer and a pretty fast swimmer.  So, for this race, for the first time, I decided to swim off the front of my swim wave with the sharks! I was confidently nervous!

The night before the race, I was chatting with a couple of women who had raced this race before.  They gave me a very KEY piece of information.  The swim course would be marked by a tow line that was bright yellow and was about 2 feet beneath the surface of the water.  But this bright yellow line would be easily visible. They advised me to jump off the front of my wave, find the yellow line and swim right next to it the whole way. This would mean my siting would need to be minimal and I could swim a very straight course (preventing me from swimming any extra distance which is common in open water swimming).  I was excited about this KEY advice and it gave me additional purpose to stick with my plan to swim off the front.

Race morning came and there was a huge fog over the lake.  The large orange buoys that marked the swim course from above could not be seen.  The race start was delayed so the fog could lift somewhat.  Finally, it was my turn to get in the water.  I nervously went right to the farthest front point allowed in my wave.  Many other women hung way back.  I was focused on finding the yellow line.  I wasn’t worried about the fog.  I wasn’t worried about the other swimmers.  I just needed to trust my new found ability, trust that I’d find the yellow line and then swim my swim.  The gun went off.  I thrust myself forward and swam like crazy barely taking breaths until I have found the line!  It was bright yellow!  Easily visible and straight as an arrow.  Very few athletes ahead of me were even swimming near it!  Woo hoo!!  I quickly settled into my race pace and honestly I had a really good time.  As I rounded the last corner and was heading for shore I saw traffic near the yellow line for the first time.  A bunch of big guys, in wetsuits, that were not good swimmers.  What to do?  Get slowed down by them?  Swim around them and lose the yellow line? I kept looking and watching.  Finally, I caught up to them.  And I laughed as a tiny gap between them opened up. I  stretched my body as long and narrow as I rolled on my side and swam right through the middle of them!  I was home free!  A few hundred yards and I would be done with the swim.  I had gone off the front of the swim wave.  I had followed the yellow line. I had found a way through the blockade of big guys! As I got out of the water and ran toward my bike, I heard Robert yell, “you are third out of the water!”  What?  me?  Kimberly?  Third out of the water?  In the past I had been one of the last 3 out of the water!

The memory of this swim powers me as I follow Christ and learn to swim with the sharks by knowing I’m going to finish, knowing that Christ has trained and equipped me for this “swim”, knowing that if I keep my eyes on Christ (my yellow line) I will survive, thrive and come out obediently victorious!

It is my hope and my prayer that if you are indeed swimming with the sharks that you will ask Christ to guide you, trust His training and keep your eyes on Him and not the sharks.

 

 

Spiritual Growth, Triathlon Training

Swimming in chop and peaceful decisions

As a triathlete, at some point, you’ll have to deal with swimming in choppy waters. Be that lake, river or ocean. Swimming in chop used to be scarey to me and it took me time to learn to adapt and adjust but not to fear. One day, while in training, the lake had a lot of chop, plus it had the swells of boats nearby. It was kind of stressing me out and I started to swim pretty hard, with a lot of effort. As I tired, I thought, “how can I do this and not have it wear me out?” That’s when I realized that the chop was on the surface of the water. If I just rolled my body more to breathe I could get air and not water and if I lifted my arm high and very relaxed I didn’t get it stuck in the chop. But the coolest part was realizing that there wasn’t chop beneath the surface. So, my pull underneath the water didn’t require any addiitonal effort. Relax more and lift gently on top, and pull in smooth water below. That’s the trick to swimming in chop.

But, how does this relate to decision making…let me connect the two!

Often, as a disciple of Jesus I begin to pray and wonder and ask what Jesus wants me to do. I worry that I’ll make the wrong decision or somehow I won’t hear Him or worse yet I’ll hear Him wrong! But, that’s just worry. It’s not decision making. Recently, in the middle of the night I awoke for about two hours and was thinking through a decision and praying. I came to the answer of no. No I wouldn’t. And I honestly, couldn’t tell you my “reasons” or my “logic”. Oh sure, I had some of those, but truly not enough to support the confidence with which I was going to say no to something.  Even though I wanted to say no, it was a joint decision with Robert and I. We would need to agree. So, my deep peace, I took as the Holy Spirit confirming that no was indeed right. How would I explain this to Robert?

In the morning, over coffee, I told him I thought we shouldn’t. He looked at me, didn’t ask why, and said, “I totally agree. We shouldn’t.” Wow. That was easy. We didn’t discuss our reasons. We just agreed. Then, after agreeing, we began to review the situation and we had exactly the same reasons but the biggest “reason”  was the feeling of peace. Peace that didn’t doubt or question.

Really, if we wait until we have this solid peace about a decision. If we don’t rush it. If we just wait for the Holy Spirit to confirm it, through peace, isn’t that pretty easy? I say, “Lord, here’s the circumstance. I’m not sure what to do. I think we shouldn’t. But, I await for your answer to me.” I’m probably not going to get an email or a facebook post or a text. But, I will get peace.

This decision came with some fears, some doubts and that’s the chop at the surface. That’s the stuff we start to focus on that we think is the issue. It is not the issue. The issue is do I or don’t I and which answer brings me peace. Perhaps the answer comes nearly instantly, perhaps it comes in a week or 6 months. I ask the Lord to confirm whether I should or shouldn’t and I stay in limbo awaiting the peace to come.

Good decisions bring peace even if the decision involves some uncertainty, fear , doubt or risk. But, those things are just chop on the surface water of life! Focus on the peace below the surface.