Everyone always talks about struggling.
This week I have talked about various things being ‘the struggle’
Just tonight at dinner I spoke with a friend about being on the ‘struggle bus’
Struggles can come in the form of many things. Struggles can be big, or they can be small. Struggles can be internal, or they can be external. Struggles can be prevented, or sometimes they’re unavoidable. Struggles can be heartbreaking, or sometimes they’re empowering. Struggles can make us, or sometimes they’re what breaks us. Struggles can bring us closer to God, or they can drive us from Him. And struggles are so much more than just this list.
In addition to my last post, there is another moment I’ll never forget from lifeguarding.
It seemed like an average day by the pool.
I was sitting on the bench in the deep end of the pool in front of the slide.
Campers came one after another down the slide and then got out.
A staff members daughter was also at the pool that afternoon. We’ll call her Katie. She was a good swimmer for her age, and had gone down the slide many times. I smiled and told her good job each time she came down the slide and swam to the ladder. Katie was definitely a water bug. Between Katie’s turns, campers kept coming down the slide, all searching for the fastest way to get down. (It’s on your back, back arched and on your heels, just by the way)
I watched Katie climb the steps to the top of the slide
I watched her sit down and smile as the jets splashed her.
I watched as she gave a small push came down the slide towards me.
I watched as she giggled the entire way down
and I watched with a splash she plopped into the water.
Just like always… Wait.
Only it wasn’t. This time was different.
This time Katie didn’t emerge with a big smile on her face.
Because Katie didn’t emerge at all.
I jumped into the water and swam below her.
I pushed her up out of the water and onto my rescue tube.
We swam to the ladder and she was taken into her father’s arms.
You would think this is why that day was so memorable to me.
It is, in part – but not completely.
What made this day unforgettable is what came next.
Her parents looked at her and said
“Why did you do that? What happened? You know how to swim”
They looked at me “She knows how to swim.”
She knew how.
We all knew that Katie knew how to swim.
But this one time, she was just too tired.
Katie went on the slide multiple times, but she still went under.
It has the potential to happen to everyone.
So does struggling.
Struggles happen to everyone.
It doesn’t matter how good you are.
It doesn’t matter how experienced you are.
It doesn’t matter how careful you are.
We live in a broken, fallen world and a product of that is ‘the struggle’
But there is beauty.
And the beauty is in Christ.
Christ came as Love. As Grace. As Healer. As Protector.
And so while struggles are unavoidable, they aren’t permanent.
But He is. But they are not. Each time we go under the water and can’t find the strength to resurface, He is there to push us up and swim us out. We will struggle, but when we are in Christ, the greatest struggles, death, being slaves to this world, have been overcome.
Even in struggling, we can draw closer to God. Struggles can teach us, if we let them. We can allow struggles to teach us more about just how how powerful, strong, loving, graceful, and wonderful He is in comparison to our weakness, our human-ness. James 1 has a lot to say about this, I recommend reading it!
And as a song by Tenth Avenue North beautifully states:
We are free to struggle
We’re not struggling to be free
Your blood bought and makes us children
Children, drop your chains and sing