Updated: Jan 31, 2021
For as long as I can remember, I've been fearful or self-conscious about two things; not knowing how to swim and my legs. This shoot tackles them both but from a different perspective.
I can't remember the age, but I went swimming at a local YMCA on Gratiot and Harper on Detroit's east side. I don't know if I was taking a class or just there because others were there. Anyway, someone pushed me into the deep end of the pool. I don't know how I got out, but I had a crippling fear of water from that point. I could tolerate water up to my waist as long as it was still, but once it came up to my chest, I would have a panic attack. I would not get into the water for years unless it was a pool and no kids were around, splashing water in my face.
It wasn’t until my senior year in high school when I went to Orlando, Florida, with my DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) state team. Side note: I was the state of Michigan President for DECA 1988-1989! Not to be a punk or outdone by my team, I agreed to go down a water slide. I refused to succumb to the stereotype that African Americans (especially women) don’t know how to swim. How stupid I was!
As the fearless leader I was, I went down the slide. I was told the pool at the end was shallow, but the force of the water in the tube/slide against my chest caused a panic attack.
As I came out of the tube, I slid under the water. Kicking and gasping for air, I would see people STANDING around the pool DOING NOTHING! Feeling that I had no help, I began to pray and heard a soft voice say, “Stand up.” When I did, the water was no longer at my chest but my waist!
I can relate to the baby in this video: not just with water, but so many things God has given me the ability to handle. I’ve allowed fear (False Evidence Appearing Real) to cripple me to the point of not being all that He has created me to be.
The irony of this self-imposed fear is that being around water is where I feel the most peace and can get clarity from God during times that seem chaotic or overwhelming. I remember my second year at Wayne State University being difficult for me. Astronomy and I didn’t get along. After class, I would drive to Belle Isle (an island in the Detroit River and several surrounding islets) or along Lakeshore Drive to be near the water.
I dared not get into the water but being in its presence brought and continues to bring a calm and reminds me to reflect on the hand of God. It brings me to a place that reminds me that, in situations I don't have control over, He does!
As I watch the waves flow in sequence, I'm made aware of how the hand of God controls every progression in my life. Just as the wave's size or intensity forms based on the wind's strength, its power can appear to overtake everything in its path, only as the Disciples experienced in Mark 4:35-38. In the midst of the storm, fear grasped them, and they totally forgot that it was Jesus who told them to get into the water (Mark 4:35) to get to the destination He had prepared for them. Jesus was FULLY aware a storm was coming.
On this journey, I've confronted many anxieties; one is going to the beach. After pushing past my fear of walking to the beach in my swimsuit, then getting into the water, it hit me! Once in the water, it was too windy, and the waves were high. The only way the waves could not knock me down was to stabilize myself by digging my feet in the sand under the water.
Once I was confident in the foundation, I was able to stand in the waves without falling or succumbing to the force of the waves.
In times of uncertainty, we must continually remind ourselves that God knows the thoughts He thinks toward us, thoughts of peace (just as Jesus calmed the winds) and not of evil, to give us an expected end (Jeremiah 29:11). He knows our every move, thought, feeling, and desire in mind when He puts us in places of uncertainty, but He still puts us there, knowing what He put in us and the outcome.
You mean to tell me, sometimes our biggest fears can be our biggest blessing when we change our perspective on how we see them?
You may ask how this photoshoot relates to this post. Well, it does in two ways. Because of my fear of water, I never went to the pool or beach. Secondly, anyone who has known me 40 years can confirm they have NEVER seen me in shorts, let alone a swimsuit -- a two-piece at that!
This journey has helped me put my view of my life in perspective. I will no longer allow fear (most is self-imposed) to keep me from enjoying and embracing every good and perfect gift that comes from God, which is my life.
It’s Time to Jump and Be Free!