Did you know you are raising a miracle?
Parenting a wonder?
If you have a child, you are.
I’m discovering this more and more every day.
Let me explain…
Yesterday before the sun came up, we hit the road to travel over two hours away to a state park where my girl would swim two miles in an open water swim meet. Two miles. Non-Stop. In a lake. With hundreds of other water warriors.
Did you see that it was TWO MILES in a LAKE? Just didn’t want you to miss that part, because wow.
My girl had been working tirelessly for over two years to make the cut for this meet. It’s been her greatest goal and hardest challenge. It’s been an obsession with every meet to get the time she needed to be invited into this ridiculously difficult feat. You should see her swim notebook, packed with pages of times and goals and graphs. She’s a force to be reckoned with, that one.
After all her attempts to make it into the meet, she ended up just one second away from the cut. Her coach had mercy on her desperate attempts and let her go anyway.
I was against it from the beginning. I mean, there’s the long drive to the meet, the getting lost finding it, the preparation and the caring for my other child while I’m gone, and all the other details that are just a nuisance to my comfort zone. Then there are the brain-eating amebas that threaten to invade her brain and take her life, like another local girl who met a tragic death from such a thing.
And of course, there’s the hidden fear that she will fail, she will drown, she will…
In some way. Any possible way, really.
I can’t have that, now can I?
But my girl was relentless in her desire- unstoppable with her passion for grabbing hold of this new exciting challenge, one which many great swimmers have steered clear from and for good reason. It’s a grueling adventure of epic swimming proportions. But her need to do it was typical of her can-do spirit and her tenacity that doesn’t quit. And of course, her profound determination dissolved my own limits of worries and what-nots, because this is how parenting goes, right?
Our kids take us beyond ourselves and we are forced to let go- of us. We must break free from our barriers to allow them to cross their own.
It’s hard but necessary. And whether it’s from suffering or adversity or a gruelingly long road of dreams and achievements our kids travel down- we learn this slow ripping off of our own vulnerabilities is what allows our kids to flourish and fly. Because they are their own miraculous wonder, and who are we to keep them captive in our safe secure sanctuary?
So we went and she had only swum in open water one time before- just a week prior to this meet. The funny thing about this is that my girl had no idea the swim was so long. When I first found out, I almost cried. Maybe I would have if I wasn’t surrounded by other parents and her coach. I was stunned and when I told my girl about the distance, she was too. I watched her face turn into shock, and within seconds, a smile as she said, “Oh. Really? Wow. Okay, I got this!”
I didn’t believe her.
This is hard to confess, because why wouldn’t a mother believe in her kid’s incredible abilities and determination? This is the kid that won’t miss a practice- for anything. Her motivation is planted so firmly in her spirit, it’s palpable and unbreakable.
I don’t dare break it- but I am a constant worrier of this one. She keeps pushing me to trust in her and ultimately trust in her Creator- not in the confines of my own distorted perception of miscalculated failures and wonky what-ifs.
She’s not a what-if girl. It’s a wonder she came from me. Truly.
So after the long drive and setting up on the shore, signing in, and marking her body with swimmer number 229, we waited for her age group to be called. They gathered with the masses from surrounding states and listened to the rules of the event, learned the sign for ‘help’ if they were in peril so the lifeguards on the kayaks could save them, and I noticed the paramedics standing on the shore.
I was buzzing with both excitement and wonder, yet trembling with fear and falsehoods.
I keep believing the lie. The lie that my girl doesn’t have what it takes to endure, persevere, withstand or rise among the victorious. I suffer greatly at the hands of doubt. I wrap myself in the flesh of human nature and protective parenting that doesn’t bode well with a miracle.
I hear The Mighty whisper gently, soothing those aches and cringes in my soul…
“She is mine. She is my miracle. Let go…”
But I choose not to fully believe this proclamation and this promise when I am grappling with the ordinary, grasping onto worst-case scenarios and real-life threats. I sometimes grip harder with an intense need to protect my child, possessive and punchy- as if I know best.
Ah, ye of little faith.
I stood on the shore with the binoculars to my eyes, searching for my girl over the long stretches of splashing surface water, filled with tiny bobbing heads. All of a sudden, one swimmer began to stray from the flock and take an immediate hard turn toward shore.
Oh, God. It’s her.
I told her coach standing next to me, gave her the binoculars, and started to unravel…
“Why isn’t that kayak going over to her!! OH my gosh, what is WRONG WITH HER? Why aren’t the lifeguards swimming to her? SOMEBODY HELP MY BABY! I knew this was too much. TOO MUCH!”
Her coach, who knows my neurosis all too well, explained that she doesn’t look to be in distress, because she is still swimming and she knows she needs to raise her hand out of the water if she needs help.
We began heading toward the area on shore that she was swimming toward, my feet fumbling on the sand as I tried to move them as fast as I could, keeping my eyes on my girl with a fierce and frightened gasp.
The dialogue in my head spilled out.
“It was too much. I knew it was too much. Oh God, why did we do this? What’s WRONG with her? Oh Lord, please let her be okay!”
As this swimmer got closer to shore, we both realized it wasn’t Cassidy after all.
Shock and relief.
The coach took the binoculars and searched for her back out in the endless stream of splashing arms and bobbing heads and found her. She was actually keeping pace and looking strong.
Break down, averted.
You see, I’m at the ready for the worst, the what-ifs, and the worry that can bury the best of intentions, the greatest of dreams, the hardest of goals. I’m the parent who loses her phone and immediately thinks I have missed “The Dreaded Call” during those five minutes looking for it. Anxiety is an insidious beast. It resides fully alive in me.
It spills out everywhere.
And this fierce little budding water warrior is catapulting it off the charts.
But this issue isn’t about all these details really. It’s about the belief in a God who is in charge, and my struggle to accept that it’s true.
It’s an ongoing battle I always lose. And I wonder when I will finally step out of the ring and allow God’s mighty Hand to work freely in her life without me standing in the way, holding down the bar, shutting the gate, or stifling her spirit simply because I struggle to believe. It’s exhausting, really. I’m no boxer.
It’s a banter I reckon I will shuffle through with every new and glorious cliff she dangles over with her eyes peering wide and beautiful over the edge, beaming hope and life for each new flight she takes.
I stare at the fall, the depth, the danger-
She gazes at the sky, the wonder, and the dream of new heights.
Years from now, I envision standing at the airport sending her off to a dangerous foreign land to serve the sick and the suffering. This mission she has already firmly planted in her heart to do.
And I know that my flesh will fight, but my God will win.
He always does.
She’s His miracle, after all.
And this truth?
It’s the most important thing we can surrender to, with each one of our miracles.
Care for them, teach them, lead them. Encourage them, inspire them, nourish them. Catch them, console them, carry them. Empower them, show them, believe in them…
And realize they are the handiwork of God. His glorious creation. His divine art and magnificent gift to the world.
We’d best not get in the way of His plan and purpose for their lives.
No matter how much we love them.
Because the truth is-
He loves them more.
So here’s to letting go.
Over and over and over again…
She did it. With ease.
Let us never forget we are all raising a miracle and parenting a wonder right before our very eyes…