I had no intention of doing any more than dangling her little feet in the water. I thought the newness of cool waves lapping at her feet, sand squishing between her chubby toes would suffice. It was early evening, so I hadn’t even changed the baby into her swimsuit; the sun would go down, and no one would want to swim. Instead, I found myself struggling to pick up a baby who had doubled over my arm reaching towards the water. When I tried to straighten her and carry her, she allowed her body to transition from completely limp to completely tense–whichever would successfully allow her to slide beneath my grasp.
I marveled that evening as she moved through the water, determined to keep traveling ahead. She was undeterred by the small waves that would meet her and pressed on. Her orange tank-top dragging across her body with the weight of water, she continued to crawl with a small grin on her face. She purposely dipped her head into the ocean to feel the cool on her cheek, only stopping momentarily, and then she continued.
Watching her move with such grace, I thought to myself how free she looked.
I envied her. To be able to look at something so vast, so huge, yet jump in without hesitation is not an action to which I can relate.
I can relate more to my son who, upon seeing the ocean for the first time since he was a baby exclaimed, “It’s too scary! It’s too scary!” I was surprised by his reaction. He went on to say that the ocean was so big, but almost immediately, he, too, braved the scary sea.
My second-born wanted to be brave; she wanted to run towards the waves, but her fears kept her dancing along the shore.
Until the next day when she gripped the back of her daddy’s neck, wrapped her legs around his waist, and allowed him to carry her through the waves. I watched as cries left her open mouth, but then gradually the black hole I could see from afar began to close. She trusted her daddy.
And why should any of my children have been afraid? If they turned their heads away from the sea in front of them, they would’ve noticed a creased brow over the eyes of one watching with concern, not turning her eyes from the fearless babe unaware of how easily a wave could knock her over. They would’ve known as soon as they took their first step into the deeper water, their mommy would’ve been right behind them.
Or behind the lens, capturing their every move, their brave moments in the waves, stood their Daddy. With each click of the camera, a smile spread across his lips from the joy of watching his kids play. He stood proud, cheering on his children with each memory he preserved.
And when I turn my eyes from the vast sea in front of me, I am reminded that I no longer need to fear. I look into the eyes of my Father and know He is guiding my every step as I pick up my foot that has sunk into the sand and push through the water lapping at my ankles. I walk and feel the cool on my calves and then the back of my knees. As the first waves splash around my thighs and more are forming in the distance, I turn back with worry written on my face. But the eyes of my Father speak, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
It is then that I begin to play in the water and splash until I taste salt on my lips. It is then that I know that I, too, can be fearless.