By: Tessa Valadez
She’s poised and ready. Her toes curl around the edge of the board, her floating devices are Road Construction Orange, swollen with air as they tighten around her scrawny biceps. It reminds her of the blood pressure wraps the nurses in Winnie the Pooh scrubs attach to her arm when she goes to the doctor. Swirling chlorine water sloshes about as public water patrons cannonball and kick around the board. She glances up. A smiling nod greets her from her mother who is standing off to the side and waiting for her to jump. She looks down again. What if there are sharks in the water? That’s silly. It’s not salt water. What about underwater gnomes with sharp teeth? She looks around. Nobody seems to be dragged under. The board shakes and she looks behind her. The stupid neighborhood boy is hugging his ribbed skin and yelling at her to hurry up because he’s cold. She sees goosebumps on his flesh. Her eyes widen as she feels the rush — like the whole world is tired of waiting and urging her to jump.
She’s done it before, she’s ready. A tight-pinched nose and deep breath later, she’s popped into the water. She surfaces and checks her surroundings. Right floatie? Good. Left?
It’s completely deflated and she’s pretty sure she’s going to drown.
She starts screaming for mom. She’s a goner for sure with one floatie limp against her arm. Her mom tries to meet her on the side and commands her to swim to the side. It’s no use, everyone knows a left arm paralyzes and goes limp if its flotation device is down. Hot fears spill down her cheeks; but somehow she has made it to the side, clinging to the pool’s concrete lip. Dad’s next to her in the water. He had grabbed ahold of her in the deep-end and swam her to the side of the pool. Everyone is staring at her, some are laughing. Laughing? Why are they laughing? Oh yeah. Because a five-year-old thinks she’s going to drown if one of her floating wings pops. Thinking back, it was a pretty comical scene, but not while I was in the midst of thrashing water, popped plastic, and safety too far away. Yes, that was me. I thought I had walked the plank that day, not a diving board.
The same sensation comes back when I find myself with my toes curled at the edge of 2013. All of a sudden I’m about to jump into the unknown — the watery depths of chlorine-water sharks, underwater gnomes, and resolutions. I look to the skies and sigh. I’ve tried this all before, LORD, I tell him. I’ve checked my flotation devices, my securities, and they always pop and I always think I’m going under. Then there’s a glimpse of you assuring me that I can make it to safety. So what difference does this year make? I always feel like my resolutions are new and improved floaties making me look falsely buff in orange sleeves. But then I hear a sermon this past Sunday that reminds me that in order to find a fresh start, I need to acknowledge that I am in need of my Savior. Once I find myself in that place then I can proceed with goals and hopes with the knowledge that, no matter what, I will be safe with Christ as my Anchor.
I pump my floaties full of air and look into the face of my Father — seeing Him in the water ready to catch me makes me break into a grin as I sprint along the board. This time it’s gonna be big. The diving board flings me high, I go full cannonball, and the splash of 2014 is here. I’m safe. I’m safe in my Father’s arms.
Let’s do this, LORD — underwater gnomes, sharks, and all.