I’m training for my first Sprint Triathlon which is happening on October 27th, so I’ve been spending more time at the pool. Last Sunday I went up to 24 Hour Fitness for my workout. The pool was busy. There were some people in the hot tub, some in the sauna. Some people were just kind of meandering around. There was a teen-aged girl in a bikini there, certainly not there to do a serious workout, but seriously trying to make herself visible to the teenage boys hogging one end of the lap pool.
I walked in and sat on the stairs leading down into the pool. I thought that if people saw me putting on my swim cap and goggles, they would see I was there to train and would stop their meandering and give me a lane. It worked. One lady sweetly told me she was done and I could have her’s.
I got in and swam a few warm-up laps. At one point during my warm-up I noticed someone standing in the lane next to mine, very close to the floating lane marker. I didn’t think a lot about it, just that they were a little too close to me and maybe I had drifted too far to that side. I continued on to the end of the pool and stopped. I turned, lifted my goggles and saw the person I had passed. It was the bikini girl….. IN. MY. LANE, splashing around aimlessly about midway down the pool. I looked at her and thought, “Seriously? She must be all of sixteen with no idea what kind of pool etiquette she is violating. This is not a community pool, honey. This is a GYM! People train here! People like me, like right now and you are about to be in my way!”
She obviously did not sense my telepathic irritation or see my stone-cold glare and looked as if she had no intention of moving to another part of the pool. So, I decided, she would just have to stay out of my way. I swam my drills and focused on my breath and my strokes. For a good twenty minutes she dodged me every lap. She would kind of swim a little, then lean over the lane marker talking to her friend in the next lane. I never came close enough to run into her, and I couldn’t understand why she insisted on staying right there, moving every time I swam by.
I completed my workout. She was still going on with her conversation as I left the pool area.
Now, I tell this story, not to gripe about the lack of consideration on the part of the girl, but because my reaction, though it might not seem at all extraordinary, was a bit of a victory for me. This morning, I thought about a conversation I had with a friend from church about how I had lately noticed a tendency to be more open and tell people what I really thought. The pool incident made me realize another change. Over the last few years, God has worked on me A LOT. It is through no effort of my own, other than being obedient to Him in studying His word, working the steps of Celebrate Recovery and journaling almost every day. The result is, I’m learning how to stand up for myself. The Debbie of just a few short years ago, would have been quite discombobulated by the bikini girl’s rudeness. I might have even left the pool and given up the attempt at a good workout due to no empty lanes. But Sunday, I knew I was in the right and I took possession of what was mine. It wasn’t a conscious, grit-my-teeth determination to complete my training for the day. I was simply completing the task I had gone there to do and dealing positively with the conflict.
It is a minuscule and simultaneously monumental shift.
God says, “Do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19) He is changing me in ways I didn’t even know needed changing. Like a skilled trainer, His incredibly wise hand knows exactly how to exercise my mind and emotions to strengthen them.
In Celebrate Recovery, I see women who short-circuit their healing. They are afraid or tired or they get a little victory and think it’s enough. So, they quit. But God doesn’t work on our time schedule. Notice the verb in the verse from Isaiah 43. He doesn’t say He has made way. He is making a way. He’s still in the process. It’s continual. We’re not done until He calls us home. If we don’t continue to seek Him with all of our hearts as long as we live, we’ll never really know all He can do in us. It’s not an easy road. In fact, sometimes it is extremely painful. But it is powerful.
And sometimes we don’t even know we are changing, ……until the bikini girl gets in our lane.