I am 110% petrified of open water; anything other than the pool basically. Even sometimes I feel like shamu (the killer whale) is going to be in the pool behind me. The thought of it made my hair stand up on my arms and I would feel my chest getting tight. The minute I jumped in, I have a FULL panic attack!!
It makes no sense. I grew up on the lake my entire life and swam when I was younger. I was never a fan of it but the older I got, the more frightened I got. My thoughts would be completely irrational….like a shark was coming to get me….yes in the lake….or an alligator….or a dead body. Seriously think of something completely ridiculous (like shamu in the pool) and those were my basically my thoughts. What led to this anxiety? I have no idea….I just know it has gotten out of hand. How am I going to be a triathlete who is terrified of the water?
The other weekend when I raced Lake Logan, it started. I stood on that pier with huge alligator tears in my eyes and I looked at my husband and told him, “there is no way I could do this!” I was sure I was going to drown. We got in the water together and it happened, no I didn’t drown, but I had a panic attack. I couldn’t breathe and I was freaking out. He told me to roll over on my back and float for a minute to calm down and get my breath. And then he did something I will never forget. He rolled over on his back to float beside me and he took my hand in his and said, “you got this, I believe in you.” My husband isn’t the best with words; he is very straightforward with no sympathy, so when he said that, I knew he meant it from the bottom of his heart. I began to try again. I didn’t make it very far that day but those words were etched into my soul forever, “I believe in you.”
After the race, I was determined that I was going to conquer this fear and not let it hold me back. Last week alone, I did four open water swims in the lake! I did one at 6am in the morning when it was still dark!!! I swam for about 40 minutes and about 15 minutes after I started, it began to click. My confidence started building and I kept hearing those words my husband told me, “I believe in you.” My strokes looked better, I was swimming further than I have before and I never even needed to roll on my back to breathe. There were no panic moments. The rest of the week, I jumped right in the water and was ready to swim!
In order to conquer our fears, we must face them. We must look them straight in the face and say, no way buddy, I got this, I believe in me!
I have once heard that the Bible says do not fear 365 times, once for every day in the year. However, when I wanted to research this further, I found that actually the Bible(KJV) says ‘FEAR NOT’ only 63 times and it says ‘BE NOT AFRAID’ 26 times. Regardless, it couldn’t be more clear what God is commanding us. God only said once, ‘Let there be light,’ so the reality is even if God only said ‘fear not’ one time the message is crystal clear!
What is holding you back? What are you afraid of? Fear of rejection, planes, spiders, failing, shamu in the pool, swimming in open water? Regardless of what fears you have, remember what God has commanded you and stop living in fear. Don’t let your life pass you by. Think of what amazing things you can accomplish if fear wasn’t in your way.
So today, I encourage you to make a list of things that have a hold on you. Write down your fears and come up with a plan on how you can face them. Make a detailed game plan of how you going to accomplish this. Don’t wait another day, stop being held captive in your life.
After last week, I called my mom and told her that God had performed a modern day miracle. I am no longer scared and I faced my fears! That was one of the best feelings. I am no longer a prisoner to my anxieties.