For the last couple of months I’ve been getting up early to go swim in a lap pool. In my ‘in shape’ days, I played Water Polo for about 8 years in high school and college, and was also on the swimming team for 5 of them. I’ve grown up primarily on the west coast where I’ve done a good amount surfing, boogie boarding, and casually swimming out to buoys. Which is why it was certainly a surprise to me when I got in the pool one morning and was paralyzed by fear at the thought of a great white coming out of nowhere to gobble up my equally-white self.
I know you’re probably saying to yourself: a great white in the pool? C’mon. A zombie falling in and walking aimless on the bottom is more likely. And er.. you would be right. I think. The point is, it’s an irrational fear and one that a grown man with a good amount of pool experience shouldn’t have – so what’s going on here?
4 Ways to Avoid Sharks in the pool
I believe a lot of our fear comes from a place of not having peace with God. We’re restless, unaware, or unintentional about seeking God’s peace so fear creeps in. When it gets to a certain level, it can be downright paralyzing.
I honestly thought it was just something odd the first time it happened. I muttered to myself about a few days of binge shark week watching while I stepped out of the pool earlier than anticipated, and didn’t give it another thought. The second time was a little creepier.I didn’t quite hear the ‘dun dun….dun dun…’, but my fear was almost palatable. I actually stopped in the middle of a lap and stood up to look behind me, preparing for the inevitable big fin and a toothy grin.Nothing.
There I stood: in the middle of a lap pool, fists up, goggles flopping to the side, looking for a chlorinated-water-breathing shark, in six feet of water.At least I had my fists up.
Here are 4 ways to avoid this scenario (and others) and get God’s peace back in your life.
It’s serious, don’t Brush it off. At this point I started realizing something was wrong.I say ‘started’, because a part of me wanted to sweep it under the rug and think nothing of it.It was an irrational fear after all, so what was the harm? It’s not like I was going to actually get eaten.The problem was, it wasn’t the shark that was doing the damage – my fear was swallowing up my joy, peace, and ability to exeperience God’s grace.
It was affecting my mind by my inability to concentrate; my health because I was unable to stay in the pool and get exercise; and now my spiritual life as I had allowed fear to overshadow my peace.This couldn’t get brushed off, it was a full-blown enemy.
Find safe people, and share it.Beyond writing about it here, I casually brought it up a few times to my wife and family.After a few jokes about sharknado, sharks in the closet, and an impending zombie-shark apocalypse, we lightly talked about it as something that was bugging me. A thorn in my side, a relationship left unrepaired, a flaw unseen and unchecked, a habitual sin.
Talking about it with others allowed me to get a different perspective, advice, and even some space to joke about it.Let’s face it, we can’t be trusted to think and act emotionally stable when we’re afraid.We aren’t designed to live and make decisions in the midst of fear – in fact when we do they’re usually poor. We need the help of others, and must give them permission to remind us of who we are and what God has done for us. As scripture says in 2 Timothy 1:7: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind”.
Fear is empty, don’t try to beat it.I’m not a huge fan of the motto ‘conquer your fear’.To me, it essentially gives too much credit to fear as a thing. It’s not.It’s one of the tools of the enemy, and as we all know he doesn’t create anything.He just perverts, twists or distracts from the good things God has made. Fear is a smokescreen that attempts to cover up the real issues, fooling us that into thinking we must overcome it in order to move on.
Like trying to climb over a gust of air, it’s pointless and impossible. What we can do instead is use that negativity as a marker of a bigger issue. It won’t point directly at what’s really bothering us – remember his art is deception – but it can clue us in that there’s someone who needs our attention. It could be ourselves, a spouse, a friend, or someone we’re yet to meet. Don’t try to beat your fear, look for the real issue.
Take it to God, ask Him to reveal the issue.Before we relegate this ‘insightful’ point to the obvious bin, we have to ask ourselves if we’re attempting to conquer, face, or ignore our fear. When we do any of these things we position ourselves at the opposite end of fear as it’s opponent, and hopefully it’s victor. Without even knowing it we take God out of the equation, and ultimately give the enemy an upper hand.We must always involve God even if it’s painful in realizing where we aren’t measuring up. Anytime we choose to go it alone instead of involving God, we aren’t doomed to failure – worse, we’re occupied in purposelessness.
Have you ever had a ridiculous, irrational, or inexplicable fear that was resolved when you took it to God and resolved the issue?