Wednesday, June 22, 2011

All the World is a Stage

     The community pool is our friend in the summer time.  We are there two or three days a week to beat this summertime heat and enjoy some relaxation together.  I suppose the lifeguards have to deal with many obstacles in their job and this year the rules changed.  They now require that every child take a swim test every fifteen days and they record it in a book.  That’s fine for the oldest, but for the youngster the pressure was on.  I’ve seen him swim.  He’s been doing just fine.  He used to have such a fear of the water and has come a long way.  He passed the first time he tried this summer then the tests started again only three days later.
     He stood at the edge of the pool as the lifeguard stood alongside him and gave him the test instructions.  I saw him nodding and looking in the direction she was pointing.  He looked ready; he looked…nervous.  Then he jumped in and began to swim.  He was to swim around 20 feet then tread water for five seconds.  I watched from a chair and said a little prayer for him, but about half way there it was like he just quit.  I watched and felt disappointed for him; then I went over to talk with him and the lifeguard.  He was told he could have a second chance the next time he came to the pool.  He was so sad.

     Since then, we have been back several times and each time he tries to do the test, it becomes more and more of a negative experience.  He doesn’t even want to try anymore.  I was thinking about it today when we came home from the pool, while I was cleaning.  I remembered when I was in seventh grade and played the clarinet in band.  Every week we would have a chair test.  I would practice all week.  I knew the notes and how to play them.  I knew it without the book.  Most times, though, I would let myself down.  I would get so nervous that I couldn’t do what I knew I was capable of achieving.  I did the same thing when I tried out for cheerleading in high school.  I could barely breathe, much less belt out a cheer.  I had no confidence.
     When I knew I was being watched by many as I got up to perform, I would completely shut down.  I still don’t like to get up in front of people and be the center of attention, but it only causes some slight discomfort now.  I thought about how it is so nerve-wracking to get up in front of plain, ordinary people, but every day we all get up in front of God and perform.  Do we feel nervous?  Do I feel under pressure to perform to the best of my ability?  I don’t think I’ve thought about it this way.  When I am going about my day I have an audience with God.  I don’t need to be nervous, but I do need to know that He’s with me.  He’s with me, and if I fail or do less than my best he will still cheer for me and encourage me with words of promise.  I will get more chances.  I don’t need to see each mistake as a failure, but think of it as a chance to do it again next time.  Next time I will do it better!
     I talked to my son about these thoughts and told him that he wasn’t alone.  We all feel these feelings and we are all being tested.  God is there and He’s real and in the midst of his nervous anticipation he can pray and ask for God to help him.  We all fail.  We all succeed.  Thanks to God we get chances to try again and when we’ve finally hit the mark we can thank Him.  Thank Him that we did it!  Thank Him for the chances.  Thank Him for being there to cheer us to victory.  Most of all thank Him for the challenges in life for without them we could never grow and have the confidence we need to succeed.