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

Let go! Walk into a new thing!

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In October of 2011, I was sitting at the kitchen table doing my devotions and God told me to let go of triathlon. I asked Him to repeat that and of course He did. He wasn’t speaking out loud, but He was telling me,” Daughter, in your workout room, there are pictures, medals and trophies from triathlon and athletes you admire hanging on the walls – this sport I gave you to learn about me through is becoming an idol (replacement god, something I am loving just a bit too much) and I need you to go back and take all that stuff down for awhile and put it away. I know you are injured right now and I can’t tell you whether you will return or not to this sport. But, remember what I did for you through this sport- I helped you learn to swim, brought you a coach ( who turned out to be like the brother you never had), I helped you understand that if you swam in cooperation with the water it would be much easier.  I showed you that in life, when you cooperate with me it will be much easier. I gave you a great job as a triathlon coach and blessed you with many wonderful athletes. I gave you the discipline and talent to go from never being an athlete to competing rather competently in your age group. I provided you the funds and blessings to have all the first rate equipment you needed and to travel to great places to race. I placed in your heart the audacious goal to qualify for the World Championship race in Florida.  You believed in Me enough to go for it and I brought you there didn’t I? That dear daughter, was the last race I brought you to. I brought you to the top race in your sport. That is how I roll dear daughter! Only the best for you. So, now, I’m doing a new thing. I’m taking you new places and I need you to let go of triathlon to go with me on this new journey. I need to be number 1 in your life. Remember this triathlon journey we have been on? I promise you, the next one will be just as exciting and challenging as everything I blessed and challenged you with in your triathlon life.”

I cried. Both in sadness and in joy. I looked back at all God had done and wondered how could I not  let go of triathlon to go into this “new thing”? I decided God was making me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I got up in that moment of commitment and packed up everything as He had told me to and determined to go forward into this “new thing”.

Yes, I drift back into desiring to train and compete. But as time passes, I drift back less and less and less. And as time has passed He is showing me, leading me, preparing me for the “new thing”.

Over the years, I can tell you God has asked me to let go of many things that were hard to let go of, but each time I have let go, I have never ever regretted it. In fact, a few times I have wondered why I hung on so long!

About a year after I put all my triathlon stuff away, God permitted me to put it back up.  Why?  It serves as a visual reminder of all that He has done so I can remain hopeful, patient and confident in Him as He leads me into the new thing! Now, instead of an idol it is an altar that confirms who He is and how He rolls!

I  believe that whatever it is we are hanging on to isn’t nearly as good as what He wants to give us!

Let’s make a commitment today to release what we are hanging on to. He is a loving and trustworthy God. Let’s agree  to take a step forward with Him into the “new thing”!

 

Ephesians 2:10

10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Philippians 3:12-14

12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.