You have to understand that I am not proud of what I’m about to share.
I don’t like to swim.
I don’t like to be splashed.
I don’t like water in my eyes.
I don’t like getting my hair wet.
And, honestly, at 43, nearly 44 years, I still haven’t come to grips with my body. This is the part I’m really ashamed of and I wish wasn’t true. I really should be “okay” with my body. For goodness’ sake. I’ve given birth to six kids and my teenage daughters still raid my closet.
Anyway, rather than playing with the kids or my husband in the water, I typically am poolside with my sunglasses on, a cool drink beside my chair, a book in my hand, and my body sufficiently covered up.
But, Sunday, it was hot, really hot, and without a book or a cool drink with me, I decided to lay aside my MO and swim a few laps. Uncharacteristically, I put on a pair of goggles and slipped into the lap lane – a lap of freestyle, a lap of backstroke, a lap of freestyle, a lap of backstroke. I’m thinking as I’m swimming, “This isn’t so bad. These goggles mean I can keep my eyes open and my contacts won’t float out. Maybe I can get my own goggles. Maybe if I start biking too, I could do a triathlon.” But there’s a hissing at poolside.
I’m on the last few strokes of a lap of backstroke. I reach for the wall. I flip over and …
… you are not going to believe this. You are really not going to believe this.
A camera, a massive television camera was in my face. I am not joking. Film me poolside reading a book, cool drink in hand, in my sunglasses, hair dry, sufficiently covered, but NOT and I repeat NOT with goggles on, hair wet, in a bathing suit, and SWIMMING for goodness’ sake! My triathlon dreams are absolutely gone.
Now, if you missed it, look carefully at :24 – :27. That’s me. In all my swimming glory.
When I flipped over and saw that camera, I just about died. Not only was the massive camera right there in my face, but several of my kids and their cousins were lined up with this camara-gal, who, out of the 500 men, women, and children who were swimming, chose to film me. She didn’t know it, but there was something slithering around her feet.
“Why are they filming you, Mom?”
“I have absolutely no idea.”
Exposed. Naked. Defeated. Definitely ashamed. I wanted someone to toss me a towel, even a fig leaf or two would have been helpful, as I oh-so-carefully climbed out of the pool, dodging the serpent as he crawled away. Back behind the sunglasses. Back behind the book. Cool drink in hand. Hair dry. Sufficiently covered. That’s where I wanted to be.
As the hissing faded, I thought…
“Do I really believe that what I say to other women is true?”
“You are made in the image of God.”
“Your identity is in Christ.”
“Outward beauty is absolutely nothing compared to a heart that is possessed by God.”
I count on these Biblical truths for the women I speak to at retreats and women’s events, for the women I disciple, and for my daughters who all need to know that they are more, so much more than outward beauty. I come alongside them and work to place courage from God’s word into their heart. I work hard to help them see themselves as made in the image of their Creator, to cling to the One who declares beauty and redemption over them, rather than listen to the words of the one who is the serpent from the Garden, the father of lies, the one who came to steal, to kill, and destroy. But situations like this bring it home to me.
If I believe these truths for other women, do I believe them for me?
Tenderly God says,
“You, my daughter, are fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:14
“Your outward beauty may be fleeting, but as you stand in awe of me, as you cultivate a heart that is at rest beneath my gaze, beauty that does not fade is yours.” Proverbs 31:3, 1Peter 3:3-4
I wonder at these words. Do I believe them? Do I really believe them? Poolside. Goggles off. Sunglasses on. Sufficiently covered up. As my hair dries, the question gets more personal…
“Do I really believe You?”
His word washes over me and I know … I do. I really do believe Him, although my belief is, at times, weak. I’m still growing up, still growing into the reality of my belief, still battling the lies I bought hook, line, and sinker as a teenage girl. “Oh, Lord,” I whisper, “help my unbelief.”
And He does. The lies lose their grip. The liar slithers away. The hissing all but disappears.
No doubt about it – I wasn’t prepared for the slithering at poolside on Sunday. But Jesus was. He wasn’t surprised. And He’s working daily, sometimes hourly to replace the lies with Truth, to transform me from the inside out. And He won’t give up until the transformation is complete. Until He sees me fully as He intended me to be. Right from the very beginning.
Where does the enemy attack your identity? What’s your “poolside?” Are you like me and struggle with messages lingering from your teenage years? Do you have an easier time believing Jesus for other women than you do for yourself?
While the enemy is not creative, he is crafty. Slithering at poolside, he’s a liar, a thief, a killer. But Jesus came that we might have life, and have it to the full. To the FULL. (John 10:10) Really.