I loved summer as a kid. Summers meant playing outside with neighbors, spitting watermelon seeds, running around the Recreation Center while dozens of church leagues played softball, stopping at the open-air ice cream shop on the way home, mosquito bites and lots and lots of swimming. A natural swimmer, I was always called a fish. None of us took lessons; we just jumped in and figured it out. But as easy as swimming was, diving was something entirely different. I just couldn’t do it.
So there I was, one summer morning on Big Star Lake in Baldwin, Michigan where we rented a cottage for two glorious weeks every July of my childhood. Rocking at the end of the dock, my brothers shouted personal remarks of the un-encouraging sort. My dad, never a patient one with kids, decided he’d had enough and stomped up behind me. Knowing how he works, I warned him that this time I was going to do it. I was just going to dive in. Any second now. K…in a few minutes.
My thumbs were intertwined, my knees bent, my ears squeezed between my shoulders. “I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna do it.” This was the day. Or not. “Oh for pity’s sake, just do it already!” This did not help. I decided to make a show of it to appease my dad, but I knew that I wasn’t going to do it, but… I rocked for his sake anyway.
Then, I was sucking lake. With foot on my rear, (I’m not making this up) he gave me a good, hard shove. My entrance into the lake was not the lovely arc I had hoped to have but more of head-first plop. This did not thrill me, but I did dive and the first time didn’t have to be pretty. A few summers ago I had the joy of diving and diving and diving from the dock in Lake Chelan with my two sons. Oh it was fun and I have to say, my dives were quite graceful.
As much as I didn’t like it at the time, sometimes a good shove is exactly what we need. Not many of us are going to ask for it, but when it comes to kicking us out of complacency, sometimes we need a friend behind us giving us a good shove.
Many times we find ourselves on a dock of some sort, about to be pushed in. I think God needs to put us in situations like those because there’s no other way we’ll jump in. (Ever avoided a dock altogether?) We all have standing-on-the-dock experiences. Maybe it’s a new job, a life transition, a big move. It’s scary but this is where we switch to autopilot and let God take over.
When I look back at my dock experiences, often I’m standing there in position, rocking, saying “I’m gonna do it; I’m gonna do it,” with absolutely no intention of doing it!! So often we need to get shoved out of complacency or inactivity. But, we argue, talking about it with friends is so much easier! That’s when I pray someone gives me a shove!! After the fact, I’m so thankful. It’s so much better to have done it. Even if we’re sucking lake, we did it. Might not look pretty, but who cares? The next time will be better. Graceful, even.