Some time along my junior high years, my Grandparent’s got a pool. Oh, nothing fancy, mind you, just an above ground model. It was a level 4 feet deep complete with a metal ladder to climb up and in. My Granddad built a wood deck on one edge, with steps up to it, so we could sun there and on brave days jump from it too.
I don’t really remember any pool rules we had to follow. Maybe because we were all equal there. All welcome: Aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and friends of friends. No one was turned away from early morning hours and well into the evening.
No suit? No problem! My Grandma had a supply for all shapes and sizes that she had culled from various sources. Sometimes they were a bit baggy, even mismatched, but it never seemed to matter. We all wanted in the pool, all felt accepted in whatever suit we wore.
Never the strongest of swimmers, I would usually ease my awkward self in one step at a time getting used to the chill of the water as I went. Ever encouraged by those around, before I knew it I was jumping off the ladder, a rung higher each time, until finally making the brave leap from the wood deck, swimming stronger and stronger as the days of summer waned.
There is another pool I have dipped my toes in. A pool of words. Words that flow from heart to head and on to paper or through a keyboard. I am not the strongest and certainly not the most talented but my heart is willing to swim.
This pool of gifting is not just for writers but for singers, photographers, gardeners, musicians, chefs, painters, (insert your particular talent here), and is vast enough to contain everyone with every measure of that gifting.
Many have welcomed me, encouraged me and helped me hone my craft. Being in this pool has inspired me in so many ways. It has made me want to support others, to stop comparing but encourage, not judge but support.
We all wear different suits into the water, mine slightly mismatched and baggy, but we are all equal, all welcome. If you are already in the pool, welcome all comers. Let’s encourage each other as we make our way down the ladder, as we learn to paddle and even glide. Let’s celebrate one another’s victories and second place finishes as well. Let’s keep trying. Let’s keep making a difference even when it feels small- even when we feel small. And if you see a fellow swimmer struggling, toss out a life preserver of encouragement, of hope, of love.
For those of you just sitting on the edge, fearful to dip that toe in, hesitant to develop and use your God-given gift(s), let your faith be greater than your fear. You were given that very gift by God. He is waiting to work in and through you. We are waiting to receive and be blessed by you.
Come on in. The water’s fine!