I spent almost two hours on Sunday in Centennial Lake serving as a Buddy Swimmer for a soon-to-be Iron Girl triathlete. “E” and I went 1100 yards in that lake so she could be ready for the sprint tri in three weeks. She was very nervous, terrified actually, to get into that muddy water and get to the big orange buoy then back. I tried to reassure her as best as I could before we got in the water and once we got in, we did a few dunks and then slowly began the trek out and back.
Along the way she expressed herself, her fears, and her pain in making the journey. It is a huge physical and mental undertaking to swim in open water for the first time. Especially when surrounded by spandex clad women who show up on practice day just to show off their muscles and show they can do it in under 20 minutes. (Really ladies, this day is not for you, but that’s another story…) I felt so honored that she would express her vulnerability to me, a stranger in a speedo. She apologized, a lot. Too much. I felt a constant need to remind her that she didn’t need to apologize to me or, more importantly, apologize for herself. She was up at 6am on a Saturday practicing a swim workout. While the rest of the 99% of America was still snoozing. I tried to re-assure her as best as possible and to remind her of her strength.
We made it. One buoy and kayak at a time, to the end and back. On her back, front, and side, whatever felt best to her to keep her in a forward motion. She made it to that beach again in one piece and expressing tears of great pride. I felt great pride in that she had conquered that fear.
One of the kayakers asked me if they would have Buddy Swimmers on race day and I told her no. But they won’t need us on race day. We have “held their hands” for them to conquer the fear of that water. And now they are free to flip their proverbial fins and swim like dolphins. It was the time of empowerment they needed to believe in their capabilities.
I think we all need this from time to time. Someone to hold our hand as we try something new so that we can trust ourselves. The people around us already trust in our abilities. Our loved ones already know what we are capable of accomplishing. God already knows the gifts He has given us to use to His glory. But we are sometimes the last ones to believe in ourselves.
I am so grateful for the people who have held my hand when I didn’t trust I could do things. When I didn’t think that I could get to the other side of the river. When I didn’t believe that I could pedal one more step. When I didn’t think I could leave or change. My hand holders are a great blessing that I hope I don’t take for granted.
Do you need a hand to hold to get you to the next step? Just let me know, I have two.