Change is difficult. We fear moving forward. We fear remaining stuck where we are. It’s fear all the way around. Working with fear remains a vital part of being alive.
As a boy, I was a very good swimmer. When I was nine or ten, I took my first deepwater test. It occurred in a lovely lake that contained a shallow pool for small children. This pool was surrounded by large boulders that prevented young swimmers from venturing into the deeper water beyond the rocks. The lake had a cement border, on top of which was a small sandy beach. People would dive into the lake or use one of two ladders to step down into it.
The lifeguard asked if I was ready. She taught me to swim and was confident I would pass the test. I stood on one of the boulders. The test involved swimming from the boulder to a far ladder and back again. It was probably fifty yards total. The lifeguard stood on the beach holding a long bamboo pole. She would keep it in front of me. I could grab it if I experienced any difficulty.
I gazed out over the water and looked up at the lifeguard. She smiled and nodded her head encouragingly. A few minutes went by. I remained on the rock. Several more minutes went by. And still no movement. An adult woman approached in the water. She offered to swim alongside me if that would help. I smiled back at her but did nothing.
I was paralyzed by fear. What was I afraid of? Drowning? That was unlikely. Failing the test and feeling ashamed? Perhaps. But I was a pretty good swimmer. It was the unknown that beckoned. I had never been in deep water. I stood on a threshold peering into an unfamiliar room. And I could not move.
Sometime later, a person gently pushed me from behind. I fell into the water and swam for dear life. I passed the test that day, proud of my achievement. It changed my life. But I always remembered standing on the boulder. That was excruciating.
Standing at a threshold can be extremely challenging and exhausting. Where are the thresholds in your life? What will enable you to risk a courageous leap into the unknown? What will allow you to venture into the deepwater?