I can’t swim. Like, literally, I never really learned how to swim officially – officially meaning by an instructor. When I was younger, I jumped into the deep end of the pool at my family’s vacation house in NC, but without a life jacket. My cousin, who was swimming with me at the time, had the good sense to shout while I was flailing about, and our aunt came to my rescue. I doubt I was in the water any longer than a minute, if even 30 seconds, but in those few precious seconds, I learned quite a bit.
I learned to be careful, I learned to think before I act, and most importantly, I learned to swim. My version of swimming, which perhaps isn’t the butterfly stroke and isn’t powerful and eloquent and gorgeous. But it gets me places, it gets me where I want to go and it keeps me from drowning.
Let’s talk figuratively.
I have gone to lifeguard training for years. I went to a private Christian school for kindergarten to 8th grade, and a private Catholic school for high school. I have been raised in a family with two Catholic parents. I have been training for a while now.
What’s interesting though is that it wasn’t until I got to college, this large 22000 student secular state school, that I realized that I knew how to swim,like really knew how to. See, lifeguard training and swimming are not the same thing. Training is just that – training. I was monitored, protected, disciplined, taught.
But college? College is jumping into the deep end without a life jacket. College, especially the college I attend, is the deep end. It is a very deep end.
My swimming may not be beautiful and illustrious, or a perfect 10, but it keeps me alive. It gets me where I need to go, safely, and I enjoy it. My faith may not be perfect, but I’m alive. I’m alive! It’s a gift to wake up in the morning alive and to go to bed safe.
My point, then, is this. Faith is not a training exercise. Faith is not something you learn in a book or an instructional video. Faith is doing. Faith is swimming in a tank of sharks while praising God for the opportunity to have a nice cool swim. Faith is jumping into a huge state college that doesn’t believe in or support God yet praising God for putting me there.
Yikes. Maybe I should work on that last one.
This college is…well, it’s tough. Some days I definitely do feel like I’m drowning. Those are the days when I retreat to my room and regenerate, I learn how to swim again, I pray and relax and enjoy me time and God time. Some days I feel like I’ve won a blue ribbon for my backstroke. Some days, I’m treading water, some days I’m jumping in to save my friends.
But I’m still swimming, or even just treading water. I still have my head over the surface.
People ask me all the time, why don’t you just transfer to a Catholic or Christian college, to an easier college? Oh, so, why don’t I just get out of the water?
Years later my children will walk into my house and see memorabilia from my days in lifeguard training, then ask to see the ribbons and medals and scars from my days as a swimmer. And I’ll show them…nothing?
Now, now. I am not saying Catholic colleges are pointless. Catholic colleges are a blessing. But I don’t feel called to them. Sometimes I really wish I did but I just don’t, I feel like I’m meant to start swimming now, I’m meant to start doing now.
I’m not going to lie, it’s very tough to be here. And I know there are many people out there who can agree with me, that you all are drowning or treading or swimming or paddling, too. But we have to just keep swimming (to quote a fish friend of mine).
We will make it, eventually. We will learn to enjoy the water, the waves. Hell, we’re going to hate the waves and the water too, plenty of times. But we will make it. I will make it.
Yesterday was a choppy day. Today was a still glass day.
Every day is different. But every day I’m alive.
And every day that I’m alive is another day to praise God.
Update from the 2016 Relaunch…lol I did transfer to a Catholic College. Doesn’t make this all any less true, ok?