“You call me out upon the waters.
The great unknown, where feet may fail.
And there I find you in the mystery.
In oceans deep, my faith will stand.
And I will call upon your name.
And keep my eyes above the waves.
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in your embrace.
For I am yours, and you are mine.”
– Oceans, Hillsong United –
I can swim the English Channel. I know that.
I didn’t know it the first time I jumped into the pool 4 years ago. I don’t have to do anything. I can just be me. I wasn’t trying to be a swimmer or an athlete or to get anywhere or across anything. I was just being me. Alone. In my own head and heart and spirit. And liking it.
I didn’t know it during that first event I ever swam in my entire adult life – 8 miles in Lake Champlain. But I knew with certainty: I can do this. I can swim. I am strong. I can be me. Here. Now. In this. I can.
I didn’t know it at the end of that first 10 mile Kingdom Swim. When I stood up to an unexpected hillside of cheering people as I came in last. Last. And that’s okay. Because I’m me. That’s worth celebrating.
I didn’t know it the first time I went to Distance Week in Ireland. Not until I watched myself doing things I never dreamed or conceived possible. Swimming through 10,000 jellyfish, in storms, at times not knowing where I was going, for 50 miles, in 50-55 degree water. Qualifying for the English Channel with so much more than a 6 hour swim. For the first time in my life, I was really, really good at something. I walked into the water and into the unknown and, laughing all the while, found out that I am an athlete.
I knew it in the days after that first Swim Across the Sound when it was cancelled. I knew that I didn’t have to swim to still be a swimmer. I knew that even though I didn’t get to go across, that I could have. Because I’m just that able. Just that willing.
I knew it when they pulled me out of Tampa Bay. I knew it when I got back in and kept swimming, anyway. No, it didn’t count. No, it was over. I love the rules and I love the conditions of accepted swims and assisted swims… but, there is a place in that ocean for me. Just for me. Because I love to be there. And it doesn’t have to count for any merit or recognition or certification given by any organization ever. I can just be me. That’s enough.
I knew it during that beautiful, terrible 25 mile Memphre swim. When I felt so sick and so empty. When the pain would not subside. When the songs and the smiling and the laughing stopped. When the tears came. When they passed. I knew that everybody loved me just the same, whether I made it or not. I don’t have to get there. I don’t have to. But somewhere, deeper than all my soul – mind, heart, will – has to offer, is an inherent, ingrained resolve that takes me where few have ever gone before. I got there. I got there well. Because that’s who I am.
I knew it this morning, somewhere between dreams and eyes open. The hushed haunting hour and its moment in my heart. My nightmind left some fearful residue on the back of my eyelids and ‘It’ and ‘What if?’ were all I could see… until, I remembered. I remembered something very soft and very quiet and very sweet:
I can swim the English Channel. I might not. But I can.
And not because I have to. Not because I have to prove anything. Not because anything depends on it. Not because I’ve had every swimming advantage since I was a child. Not because I’m really fast or particularly athletic.
Order yourself, were the words I heard resonating in my spirit years and years ago at the beginning of all of this. That was what Yahweh said to me. Order yourself.
He didn’t say, “Swim the English Channel.” He didn’t say, “Try.” He definitely won’t do it for me.
Make yourself into the kind of swimmer who can. Be who you are. Become who you can become.
That’s what I did.
I have loved this journey – the cold and the hard and the windy and the turbulent and the cancellations and disappointments and the miles and miles and miles of success. I love swimming. I love the sea and the way she feels and the way I can move forward even when the waves push me back. I have done everything. I have worked hard. I have ordered myself. And in all of the oceans, lakes, rivers I’ve swum, I’ve been afforded lessons and wisdom and strength.
I have learned to believe in me.
When I get to the shore of the English Channel, I will know that I did everything to be ready, to be qualified, to be the kind of swimmer deserving to be there. That is my success. That is my triumph.
I don’t have confidence in a thing that will happen.
I have confidence in who I am.
And when I look at me, there is no doubt in my mind that I can swim the English Channel.
“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever you would call me.”