Water pressed me on every side and the air was sucked out of my starving lungs. I frantically kicked and squirmed but I couldn’t get him off my shoulders. I was going to drown!
He had me pinned to the bottom of the community pool. Finally, I reached up and strategically clawed him. That caused the weight to release from my shoulders.
I broke free.
I laid on the edge of the pool, drained of all energy, traumatized, and gasping for air.
Saturdays, were usually the day I went to the local pool to hang out. I was ten years old and I had started horsing around with a boy in the water. We were having fun until he thought drowning me seemed more interesting.
I ran and found the lifeguard and told her what happened and she called the offender over. He told her I had grabbed him inappropriately, and that’s why he sat on my shoulders. The lie was suspended in mid-air for a moment as she pondered it, then she believed the dirty-rotten-liar, and dismissed me. I felt even worse.
Ever have one of those moments, where you felt the weight of the world on your shoulders, or maybe you remember being in University or College when your professor announced you were going to do a group project and you thought to yourself:
There go my grades, I’m going to end up with someone who’s a slacker and do the work of two people!
I was that person.
No, not the one who did the work. I was the one who was the slacker.
We had a science fair every year at our school. In grade eight we were forced to participate. Mr. Bunting had explained it all to our class and told us we could enter alone or with a partner. I hated science and school work. I was a terrible student. Kyna, my best friend, also knew this about me.
I approached her and asked her if she wanted to be my partner. Being the wonderful friend, she was, she said yes. But I’m sure she was secretly cringing on the inside. Kyna ended up doing ninety-five percent of the work, while I worked on my social life. We were doing a project on the importance of vitamins, and I had no interest in sitting inside working on a boring old science project, while the great outdoors and friends were calling my name.
A couple of months later we stood with our trophies in hand. Everyone was clapping around us…
I felt guilty. I wondered if anyone in the room knew my secret… I was a slacker.
Not once did Kyna say to me, I did all the work. She didn’t have to, I knew the truth, and it sat on my shoulders like that boy drowning me in the pool. Thankfully, Kyna got her reward for shouldering the heavy load of work and pulling a selfish friend along too. I received a trophy I didn’t deserve… and a guilty conscience that told me I was like a sumo wrestler, Kyna had carried uphill.
Eventually, I would get a taste of my own bitter medicine…
I had been married twenty-five years, when my family was watching, The Amazing Race, on TV. It starts with twelve teams of two. Each team races from country to country around the world, doing tasks along the way, in hopes of winning a million dollars. This year, there was an engaged couple that was participating. The young lady whined and cried her whole way around the world, non-stop. I am not exaggerating! Her fiancé, a young man in his twenties, dragged her from one country to another, listening to her constant and annoying complaining, and he kept his cool at all times. He had to do the work of two people, and unbelievably, he won, The Amazing Race!
One year, Bethany Hamilton and her husband, Adam Dirks, were partners on the Amazing Race. You may remember Bethany from when she lost her arm in a shark attack when she was surfing as a teenager. There was a movie made about her true story called, Soul Surfer.
Bethany was a tall blonde with one arm. As I was watching the first episode, I was wondering how much Adam was going to have to do, to make up for her disability. Did I just say disability? Yes, I did, and I couldn’t have been more wrong! Bethany carried her end of the stick, and many times she finished tasks faster, and more cheerfully, than girls with two arms. She was a team player!
I was reading their bio on the CBC website. They were asked to describe their professions:
Bethany, “I travel the world surfing unique locations and compete against the best women in the world. I love surfing. I also speak to different groups in the U.S. and internationally, motivating them to live a life of overcoming!”
Adam, “Switching my life from full-time youth ministry and substitute teacher to married life has been an amazing experience. I love being with my wife as she travels so often and being her rock, support, and encourager for life.”
Adam gave up his career as a youth pastor and substitute teacher to be Bethany’s full-time support team member, as she travels as a motivational speaker and world renown surfer.
Watching them on the show as a married couple was inspirational. They were by far, the best couple and team players, I had ever seen participate over the years on the show, due to their love and support of each other.
I remember a time in my life when I felt alone even though I was married:
As a young mother, I cared for my child with severe autism, and I did it alone. I was married with five children, but my husband wasn’t a team player at the time. He had a disability… called “Me-ism” it’s when you only think about yourself and not the needs of those around you. He was gone five days a week logging and came home on the weekends. When he was home, he didn’t help out, and he felt like a burden. He was the sumo wrestler I carried up the hill.
Over the years God changed my husband’s heart so much so, that he became a man who served me daily and was always looking out for me and my needs. He also took over all our son’s care and became a devoted father to all our children. Instead of having a ‘me-ism’ disability, my husband became a blessing and my race partner in life. He began to have ‘you-ism’ and started carrying other people’s burdens for them and making their lives easier. His transformation was incredible, and it eased my uphill load and caused me to fall back in love with him all over again.
Recently, he handed me his monthly bills from his company and asked me if I could pay them for him.
I said, “Yes” with a sigh… you know that guilty sigh you give when you don’t want to do something… ya that one. When he left the room, I could hear that whisper in my conscience:
Cindy, remember the man he used to be? Why are you complaining when he asks you to do a simple task for him? He serves you daily.
I felt my heart soften and paid the bills. Sometimes I have me-ism and I have to step back for a moment and remember there are others who need me, and I should put my wants aside, while I give someone else a bit of tender-loving-care.
There are still days I have to take off my sumo-diaper and wear big-girl pants. Sometimes I want to be selfish and shut out the world. I want me-time and I think I deserve it. Then God gives me a gentle nudge and some encouragement, and I refocus on those I cherish.
How about you, are you feeling the same? Do you want to ditch the me-ism and be an amazing life partner to a friend, loved one, or spouse? Let’s support each other and carry our share of the load, because after all…we’re all in this together!
Life… the most amazing, and rewarding, race you’ll ever enter.
When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. Psalms 94:18-19 NIV
Believing and hoping
*Would you like to read more about my husband’s transformation and how God healed our marriage. Our story is one of the greatest love stories you may hear, and possibly bring healing to your marriage, or someone else you know.
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