Given up/giving up/considering throwing the towel? I’m going to tell you about the day I gave up on life and hopefully you’ll realise that you don’t have to.
I remember this day so vividly, I’d accepted that I was going to die and I was wholeheartedly at peace with the situation. There wasn’t a huge evaluation about the pros and cons of my life where I’d decided that there was no point in living any longer, I just didn’t have any fight left in me and I wasn’t ashamed to hold my hands up to my fate.
So let me set the scene. I’m 8 and I’m on a trip with the Brownies…
(I’ll deal with your questions now)
“You gave up on life at 8?! Are you going to tell us a heart-wrenching story about an abuse-filled childhood that’s going to bring me to tears”.
No! you don’t have to brace yourselves for heartache
“What’s the Brownies?”
If you don’t know about the Brownies, I can confidently say: You missed out bro! (Bro in the generic non-gender specific sense of the word, because if you are a boy you missed out on Brownies by default.) Brownies is this ultra-cool club, full of talented young women with bright futures ahead of them who liase every week about how to craft their futures. Okay, that might be a slightly embellished description. All you need to know is that Brownies was fun, we played games, sang campfire songs, and every so often went on field trips. On the day in question ( where I nearly let life slip through my fingers) we just happened to be on one of these field trips.
(I hear your sigh of relief) yes I have finally started telling the story.
So picture 8 year old Dani, just about to step off the coach and enter the Kids Dream (for parents who weren’t about to buy a ticket to Disneyland )AKA Guilford Spectrum. For those who haven’t just had a sudden influx of memories about their great times at Guilford Spectrum, I shall explain. Guilford Spectrum, is an all singing all dancing, land of fun where you can swim, bowl, and go ice-skating all under one roof. Today we were there to swim. Only problem was… I couldn’t swim. Brown Owl (the big boss lady in Charge) was stood at the front of the coach and was asking for anybody who couldn’t swim to raise their hand. You can imagine my horror. So many things were running through my head.
Should I confess?
Why is she only asking this now?
I’m not about to be embarrassed in front of all my clique and admit I can’t stay afloat
Maybe if I confess, I won’t get to go in the pool
Ok, decision made, I’m staying silent.
We’re all faced with those crossroads in our lives where we have to make life-changing decisions. Little did I know that I had just come into contact with my first crossroad.
Can I just say now that I wasn’t a complete disgrace? I’d stand in shallow end and move my arms and legs in a swimming-esque fashion and so I at least looked like I was swimming. Everything was fine until I got brave. I think I was having such a good time I’d forgotten that I was living a lie, and this ability to swim was yet within my reach.
This is when disaster struck.
I was standing in the middle of the pool, not quite deep, but far enough away from the shallow end to be resting on the tip of my tip-toes. We were having a blast, the wave machine came on, and I had actually begun to fall in love with this swimming thing. I was just about keeping my head above water, when out of nowhere someone nudged me into the deep end. I didn’t quite know what was happening until the horror of not being able to touch the bottom of the pool with my toes set in. For a split second I thought ‘wow, maybe this is it, maybe I’m swimming,’ but when I looked up and realised the water was above my head, that’s when it hit me that this wasn’t swimming, I was drowning…
Of course I was practical at first. I allowed myself to sink all the way to the bottom so I could kick off with some momentum and hopefully reach the top. Plan settled and put into action. I was kicking with all the energy I could muster, only then I realised my feet could take me no further and the waves were still above my head. I tried not to panic. I thought second time lucky, and I’ll be ok. So again sunk and pushed off from the pool floor, battling to get to the top. Still no success. As I looked up at the ceiling of water that I couldn’t quite break through, and my lungs burned in my chest, in that very moment I gave up.
This is it.
Today you’re going to die, and that’s ok.
I was so at peace with everything. I had tried and failed, and just patiently waited for death, until I felt two arms envelope me and drag me out of the water. As I resurfaced spluttering and and gulping in the air I had been deprived, I couldn’t quite believe my luck. I was going to die that day, I was so close to it, and yet no, Brown Owl had come to my rescue, giving me the second chance I had completely given up upon.
So many of us can use my swimming experience as a metaphor for our lives . Let’s imagine the coach trip part symbolises the time just after we gave our lives to Christ, or even just a time where our relationships with Jesus felt amazing. Everyday feels like an opportunity to basque in his presence and the devil gets so sick of watching us enjoy, he decides to dangle a decision in our faces. I knew I couldn’t swim, I knew I had no place being in a pool but I wanted to have fun so badly, I let that cloud my better judgement. So back to us, temptation has just been dangled in our faces, but we’ve convinced ourselves that somehow we won’t be affected by the environment we’re allowing ourselves to enter. I don’t know what your vices were when you got saved but let’s imagine its getting drunk. For you, jumping in the pool would be the first time you step into a bar after you’ve made the decision that you’re not going to fall off the wave again (fall of the wave= get drunk and have to repent.) At first I was having a whale of a time, everything was going smoothly, and so are you; everyone is drinking around you, and you still have your wits about you as you’re sipping on your second drink. It wasn’t until I got nudged that my world came crashing down. For you, I guess this would be that one drink too many that sucks you from the land of sober and you arrive in the land of drunk. You might not be falling over, but you know that you have completely lost control and your heart sinks as you realised you’ve failed.
Too many of us are happily living in the moment where I settled as I patiently waited for death. You’ve tried to stop sinning, you feel like you’ve made every effort and yet you just can’t seem to break through into living righteously, so you assume God is done with you, and wait for death. To everyone that is drowning, hear me out; it’s not over. Your purpose doesn’t end when you make a mistake, or even continue making them. The day sin stops ruling your life is the day you accept that you can’t live right without God. It’s only by his grace that righteous living becomes our day-to-day. You’re so used to living below the bar God has set for us that you’re at peace with it, but God is just waiting for you to change the attitude in your heart so he can envelope you in his love and drag you out of where you are, into where he’s called you to be.
No matter how bleak it is, until you breathe your last: it’s not over
I believe Brown Owl dragged me out because my purpose on this Earth hadn’t yet been fulfilled. Even if you feel like you’ll never be able to come out of the sins you’ve been committing, you must not give up. As long as you have a purpose, you have a reason to fight for the life God wants you to have.
Your God is faithful (1Thessalonians 5:24) and it’s not over.