When I was in high school we had a swimming pool. This made my house the place where my friends wanted to hang out. In hindsight, I’m not sure if they all really liked me, or if it was just the fact that I had a swimming pool. One summer, a family friend taught a lifeguard training class at our pool. I remember one specific lesson that was about the proper technique for pulling a drowning person to safety.
This is the proper approach. Without this approach the downing victim will panic and try to use you as a floatation devise resulting in your own potential drowning.
The other day as I was thinking about Emma, I was reminded of this lesson.
Sometimes when we’re hurting, we lash out and hurt the ones who are trying to love us and help us heal. We all do it. We try to push them under in order to save ourselves.
Emma came to us, and she was drowning. Drowning in pain and fear, sinking under the weight of rejection and abandonment. We came in with our life raft and she did her very best to push us under. She didn’t know she was doing it. She didn’t know why she was doing it. She was simply drowning and trying to save herself.
The bottom line is she can’t save her self.
Two years ago, I threw Emma a life preserver for the first time. The waves had been intense, and I was drowning a bit myself. So I sat on the edge of the orphanage playroom, after being fully pushed under a pretty intense wave, and threw out a life preserver. That first life preserver was in the form of a banana. Little pieces of banana, hidden under stacking cups. It was a life preserver that said, “I will care for you. I will love you. I will keep you safe.” It took a bit of convincing, but she grabbed on tight, and I pulled her to safety.
It wasn’t the last time. There have been many other life preservers thrown out over the past two years, some taken with ease and some pushed way. There have also been may times when I went into for the rescue and got pushed under because she panicked in fear and I forgot the rules.
When God gives me a picture of my relationship with my kids, it always leads me back to my own relationship with Him. He’s the perfect life guard, and He never forgets the rules. But I sure do push Him away sometimes, and I sure do try to save myself instead of leaning back into His strong arms of Love. I’ve let pain and fear hold me back from receiving all that He has for me. I’ve let disappointment and grief cause me to push away the life preserver that He offers so freely.
So as you love your own children today in all of their brokeness, hoping that they will respond to your love, accept your arms of safety, and walk through healing while holding your hand, don’t forget to do the same for yourself. Your Father is waiting.