She handed me her swim mask to hold as she ran to the water slides. I sat on the edge of the pool — face to the sun — and watched her skip away, her bright yellow mask threaded through my fingers.
As she slipped and slided again and again, I looked around sheepishly. Assured no one was looking at me, I held the mask onto my face and peeked under water.
I had forgotten the joy of seeing life under water, even in just the pool. Baby toes wiggling beneath their floats. Wiser and wrinklier knees butterfly stroking back and forth and back and forth. Strong and muscular legs holding squeals of delight over their heads until they are plunged down into the depths.
I braced myself and looked down at my own body. Above water, my legs were distorted and bloated and pale. But with that mask on, they were normal legs again. They didn’t shift and change and convince me I was something other than myself: I saw I missed a spot while shaving my legs. The pink of my toenail polish was rosier. I really need a professional pedicure.
It was all so clear.
When did I decide it wasn’t okay to keep wearing a mask? When did I begin believing the distorted reflections of a chlorinated world instead of the truth? The mask protects our eyes from foreign chemicals that burn and sting as we look around when we’re pulled under. And when we choose not to wear it, we just plain can’t see. We close our eyes and are swayed aimlessly, allowing ourselves to be carried along instead of staying in our lane.
I plunged into the ocean that is She Speaks without a mask. It was a beautiful and amazing ocean, overflowing with life and ministry and Jesus…yet I only saw what was visible with my head above water. When I fell under the surface, consumed by the waves again and again, my eyes stayed shut and I missed all the life that existed in the depths.
And yet, sweet and merciful Jesus met me there anyway. He saw when I was drowning in currents of insecurity and fear — He saw that I wasn’t seeing. So He wrapped His hands around my eyes from behind, and told me to look. And His fingers opened. There, beyond waves of discouragement and a haunting desire to quit was a sea of life.
And I saw.
And my eyes didn’t burn.
And then He Spoke:
“It’s not about the book, Steely. It’s not about the book. Don’t lose sight of the ministry and the mission by getting too focused on the method.”
And then I really saw.
Trying to reflect on everything She Speaks showed me is like swimming with my eyes closed. I don’t know where I’m going. I’m afraid I’m going to bump into others and interrupt their focused strokes. Or I’ll crash and burn into the sides of the pool and be left with scars and scratches. I keep looking at myself and just see distorted desires and a bloated ego and extremely pale talent. Instead, I have let God show me in His timing what I need to mediate on. Drop by drop, splash by splash.
I need to let God help me find my lane and swim in it, unhurried and steady. So that when I pray and seek and trust Jesus, He’ll tell me when it’s time to open my eyes anyway. Because He’s the Mask that protects my eyes from burning. And He speaks what I need to know for this moment in this day. And reassures me I don’t have to process it all in one stroke…that I can take it lane by lane, pool by pool.
This is what I’m most grateful for. More than a list full of ten little things that I usually post, this one thing is what has changed me most profoundly in the last week. He is so faithful, my friends. So very faithful.
Give Him your oceans and your pools and your rivers and your streams. Let Him guide you through their forceful shores and take away the fear of life.
Let Him show you how to really see.