Updated: Jul 17, 2018
Back in June, my son Bear had swimming lessons. He’s seven years old. I know that seems a little late for swimming lessons, but let me fill you in a bit about my son. He was born with a birth defect called Bilateral Microtia Atresia. What that very complicated series of words means is that he was born with small ears and an absence of ear canals. He is not deaf, since he has a functioning cochlea, but he is hearing impaired. If you’d take a moment and use your fingers to plug your ear canals, then you can simulate the sound he hears when he is not wearing his hearing aids. He was also diagnosed with hypotonia. There were a few other diagnoses at birth, but they don’t matter anymore. At 10 months of age, however, he was diagnosed with PDD-NOS. For the sake of time, this means he is on the Autism Spectrum Disorder, but his version is considered high functioning. He definitely has Sensory Processing Disorder in some areas--mainly food textures and water on his face, more specifically his eyes.
With all the above “against” him, you can see why seven seemed a more appropriate age to tackle swimming than two did.
Here is the summary of how swim lessons went:
-Day one: lessons started off OK but I was forewarned that it could get in tense. It’s all fun and games when you can tilt your head to the side, lean your arm down into the water, and grab a penny off the shallow step without getting your face wet. He thought he was swimming. Ms. Nan and Bear got acclimated to each other and went over some basic fundamentals of swimming.
-Day two: lessons looked quite different from the first day, and I really don’t think I had fully prepared myself for what was about to go down. Just like day one, lessons started off great then quickly took a dive into the deep end. Telling a boy with a sensory issue that he has to get his face/eyes wet is like telling a two year old he cannot have another cookie. It’s pure torture for everyone involved. It got so intense that he managed to escape out of the pool, like he was Houdini, and plopped himself down on the ground like a 75lb wet mastiff. The fact he escaped the pool so quickly in and of itself was indeed magic. He gets his genes honestly; running was not mine or my husband’s strong suit. In a determined state to remain grounded, He wasn’t budging for anyone. Needless to say, it took two grown women to get him up off the ground and back into the pool. I was one of those women, by the way. It’s June, in Atlanta, and 5000 degrees Fahrenheit; now I’ve sweat straight out of my makeup. In all honesty, I should have just gracefully jumped into the pool with him because nothing about me looked normal by this point. I was soaked in my own sweat and I would have preferred having the excuse of swimming in chlorinated pee water. I was a hot mess to say the least. I wrestled in my mind with blowing the whistle and calling it quits, holding off until next year when he would be eight. As if eight was some magic number.
Right about that time, Ms. Nan spoke up and said, “Bear you want to wear my goggles?” Perhaps my body language disclosed what my mind had been thinking all along. All I know is that he attempted the goggles and in the nicest way possible he said, “no, thanks, I’m good.” Truthfully, I don’t believe she wanted Bear to be her first failed attempt at teaching a kid to swim in all of her 20+ years of being a swim instructor, so she didn’t give up on him! Thank God her determination matched his. After this eventful 30 minutes our time was up. Day two was one for the books.
Later that evening, we took Bear to Target and got him a pair of goggles “specially-made” for him. You do what you have to do to convince your kid that these are magic goggles made especially by Santa himself, not his elves, and that they would allow him to see differently under water. Just talk it up, folks, kids are suckers for a good story. Bonus points if Santa is involved.
-Day three: I just assumed it was best to forego the makeup. However, it turned out to be the best swim day ever for my boy! His special goggles proved to be magical because for the first time ever in his life he put his entire head under water. The angels sent on assignment to protect my son were rejoicing as much as I was!
In this moment I heard the Holy Spirit say, “this is the way in which I desire my children to see. When they choose to see through “goggles of faith” they are able to perceive and respond differently to their environment.”
So often we only view life through our natural eyes, but, as children of God, God desires for us to see with His eyes. Our natural eyes limit us and only take us so far, but the eyes of faith enable us to see a whole new realm--a realm in which we can walk uninhibited. We don’t have to fear the splash(es) of setback because our goggles allow us to see past our situation. Goggles of faith allow us to take a deep breath and swim under the current and waves of this life, knowing we won’t drown. We acknowledge what we know and see, but our response allows us to make a different choice. My son now knows that his “magical goggles” provide him security in the water. The same holds true for those who see through goggles of faith the Holy Spirit provides us. So, we fix our eyes on the unseen and not the seen, so that we can dwell on those things that will never pass away… II Cor 4:18
What situation do you need to see through different goggles today, friend? I pray that like Bear you can find those goggles that let you dive deep, swim free, and relish in the safety of the love of God!