“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life…”
I was married in 1976, the bicentennial year of the United States of America. After our wedding, we flew for a week’s honeymoon from the barely-Spring midwest to the gloriously sunny Grand Cayman Island in the Caribbean. A chief attraction of the island is not only its sugar sand beaches, but also the opportunity for snorkeling and scuba diving in the amazing coral reefs that encircle the island.
I’m not a confident swimmer. In fact, water scares me a bit, especially deep water. And in order to reach those beautiful coral reefs, one had to go out into pretty deep water. I had practiced with the snorkeling equipment near the shore, but when the boat docked into forty or fifty feet of ocean, I was indeed anxious.
My instructor – my new husband – kept reminding me that I was a good floater (I am), and that as long as I didn’t tense up too much, the water would hold me up. He suggested that when anxiety rose up in me, I should just stop paddling my flippers, slow my breathing, and lay inert on the surface of the water.
That worked. Not only did I indeed find that the water held me up and I did not drown, but I was then able truly to attend to the phenomenal colors and shapes of the coral reef, the brightly colored fish and other sealife. I had stopped feeling like it was up to me to save my life by my efforts (in fact, my efforts were counterproductive), and I was truly in delight.
Recently, I was reminded of this experience. Translating it into spiritual terms, it’s the process of learning to really trust that God’s love and moment by moment provision for me will “hold me up”.
I’m so used to trying to manage life; old habits that have been formed by painful experiences of my past and worrying expectations of the future can keep me from just resting in God’s Providence. I can resist what his love and wisdom have for me in the “now” of my life instead of allowing those experiences to transform me and drive me deeper into Him.
I’m practicing. Whenever I notice that my thoughts are anxious, I do what I did on that island so long ago: I stop my racing thoughts, slow my breathing, and remind myself that God’s love and provision will hold me up. I don’t need to – nor can I – save myself. My life is in His hands.