Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Women I Admire: Thoughts on Swimming Pools and Butterflies

source: https://flic.kr/p/ouM72C

This post has been a long time in the making. Stirring up inside me all summer. Waiting for that time when it's ready. When I'm ready.

It started at the swimming park. Week after week, I took our passes, my two kids, a black and white bag, and hung out a few hours there.

I wore a swimsuit. I went swimming. I like swimming.

And my children had so much fun, that I didn't care one bit what anyone else thought of me as I walked around in all my mommy wonder.

But sometimes I think about that. I think about my sisters. Not just my blood relations, but the women around me. The grandmas, and the mothers, and the aunts, and the daughters. I think about what we are all seeing, plastered around us: mean, and ugly, and fake, and hurtful.

BE THIS WOMAN.

It's being shouted at us. Belted out with so many voices we can't find our own sometimes.

This is the way you have to live.
This is the only right thing to love, to do, the only way you can make anything good of yourself.

And I want to tell it all to shut up.

I probably shouldn't use those words.

But I will. Shut up.

And one day at the pool, I did just that. For few seconds, I shut up. I shut down all the voices. I stopped thinking about the roundness of bodies, the marks on our skins, the tans, the white glare, everything.

I just looked.

And in that moment, I saw a bit of what God was seeing. Grandmas, mothers, aunts, and daughters, all watching children too small to be on their own. Giving of all the best parts of themselves for someone else, to keep someone safe. The children with us were surrounded by love, splashing about in this miracle we call water.

And I felt love; pleasure.

It didn't matter what a single woman there had on. God loved them. In that insant, I realized that it wasn't about the swimming suits we wore, or the shape of our bodies, or the style of our hair. God, The father of all my sisters, the maker of bodies round, thin, big and small, the creator of writers, singers, painters, sewers, crafters, builders, wonderers, seekers, helpers, and lovers, was pleased with us for giving what we could. He enjoyed seeing us happy. Seeing our little ones with us. Seeing us playing in the water He created.

Can I tell you one more story? I know this is getting long. And I'm starting to talk to much. But it's my gift; talking too much.

My in-laws came in town for a week and one day we all went on a hike. I stopped with the kids by the river. There was this gorgeous yellow butterfly sprawled out over the water, wings floating on top like some reminder of it's last fight against death. I was sad about that butterfly drowning. But I couldn't do anything about it and walked on.

An hour later, we returned to that same spot on the way back to our car. My mother-in-law noticed, for the first time, that single dead butterfly. We were hot and tired and ready to be done, but instead of walking on, she bent over to fish it out of the water.

It was a production. My father-in-law had to catch her by the back of her pants so she didn't fall in. I had a moment of thinking "why on earth is she risking falling in that river for a dead butterfly?"

"It's still alive," she told me.

I didn't quite believe her.

She carried it cupped in her hand to a tree and laid it on a branch. "It's wings got wet. It just needs to dry them out."

My son and I worked our way up beside the tree and sure enough, the beautiful butterfly was slowly fanning it's wings up and down.

Alive.

She knew something I didn't.

Remember that scripture? About the different parts of the body and how all are needed?
Remember how God made us different for a reason?
Remember how what I do well, doesn't make what you do well any less amazing? Or vice-versa?

I remember that now. I remember how my children are both different. How one does one thing and the other something else. It doesn't make them bad or wrong, just different. And when they do good with what they are, where they are, who they are; from the depths of their little bodies, with all they have; then I am happy. I am so pleased.

So shut up. Shut all the voices up and listen to yourself. Stop reading the next book, post (okay, finish mine), or latest medical finding. Stop listening to all that advice. Some of it's good. Some of it is the answer you are looking for. But just for a minute stop and think about you.

You are loved! Not because you are fat or thin, or healthy or sick. But because you are you. What do you do best? What makes you unique? Find that. And when you take what you have, the tiny specks of incredible-ness that are still blossoming inside you, and use them to help someone else, you can change the world!

Or save one butterfly.

God wants us to do both.

3 comments:

  1. Thanks, Jo. What a wonderful reminder.

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  2. I really enjoyed your story about the butterfly in the river and the little girl who saved it. I also love swimming and I like how you fitted the butterfly story into a trip to the pool. It's lovely to see little kids enjoying themselves and having fun playing together in the water. Summer is a great time and my kids always enjoy the pool or beach.

    Stella Hammond @ Palm City Pools

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  3. I love swimming! When I was a child, it was the only sporting arena I excelled in. Still enjoy it now, but do find lengths in an indoor pool can get a bit monotonous.

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