There are moments when I do something fairly well and feel a little puffed up, but invariably God allows someone or something to come along and pop a hole in my egotistical balloon and bring me crashing back to earth. Take swimming, for example. Dave and I have been doing laps, and the other day I asked why I was so much slower than he. His response brought back "fond" memories of the last time I asked that question. Allow me to reminisce.
When we lived in New Hampshire my husband and I swam often at an indoor facility. There I would become completely engrossed in my typical, mental, pass-the-monotonous-time game of playing heroine. For a few minutes I would rescue dozens of drowning victims whose boat has capsized, working feverishly to fend off circling great white sharks while single-handedly hoisting choking survivors into the life raft, and then, as if a remote control flipped to the next channel, thousands of adoring fans would cheer me on in my quest for an Olympic gold. No matter what scene, I always gave myself the starring role. No walk-ons for this drama queen.
But that day, just as I was gaining ground ... er, water, someone whizzed right past me in the next lane. Unfortunately, my new nature, the one that admires others' grace and aquatic excellence, recognizing how God equips all of us uniquely, did not don the swimsuit and goggles that day. My old nature did. In case you've never met her, she's the one who is petty and immature and embarrassingly cutthroat.
Leisure lap time was over for this contender. My competitor was goin' DOWN!
Digging deeper, I demanded more of my arms with every stroke, but instead of propelling me forward, my triceps were dragging through the waves like flabby, prosthetic, uncoordinated wings. No matter how hard I pressed, I fell further and further behind. I consoled myself with the fact that this obnoxious showoff couldn't be more than 15 or 16 years old and I was ... well, not.
A few laps later, as I leaned against the pool's edge, wondering how to perform CPR on myself without anyone noticing, my opponent did one of those in-your-face, underwater flippy somersaults. The last time I had attempted that acrobatic maneuver -- about her age come to think of it -- I ingested half the pool and almost broke my ankle which thrashed against the concrete edge causing a kiwi-size knot to appear.
You can imagine my devastation when my competitor and I completed our workout (my 20 laps to her 40-plus) to see that she was no spring fish after all; we matched, wrinkle for wrinkle. I had to know her secret. I decided to ask. Stupid, stupid, STUPID move.
Well, as luck would have it, she had actually seen a few things I was doing wrong. Would I like her to point them out? Would I like her to point them out? Was she kidding? Would I like her to jump over the lane divider and slap me unconscious? Same answer.
I groaned, a guttural grimace she mistook for a "yes."
For starters, my rear drooped, my head was flat, and my feet were too near the bottom of the pool. To have her tell it, I might as well have just walked from one end of the pool to the other. I thanked her and then whined to Dave about it for a month.
Obviously little has changed since that humiliating day. Dave had the sense to blame my lack of speed on me not kicking hard enough, but before he could add anything else, I told him his feet weren't doing that much, either. I'm sure glad I'm no longer petty and immature and embarrassingly cutthroat.
I'm still waiting for his thank-you.