What I learned from treading water

For the past few weeks, Monday and Wednesday evenings have been filled with Open Water Diver SCUBA classes for my younger son and I.  He is ten now, and has been waiting for years to be old enough to learn how to SCUBA dive.  Our first night of class, we came prepared with our gear and were eager to get into the water.


After some classroom instruction, it was finally our chance to head to the 12-foot deep indoor pool.  We entered the loud, steamy room and started reaching for our masks, fins, and snorkels, only to be stopped by our instructor saying “You won’t need any equipment tonight.”  He went on to let us know that we would be spending our pool time doing a few tests – a 40 lap swim test, and a full ten minutes of treading water in the deep end.

Ten minutes treading water can seem like a very long time…even my older son, who earned his lifeguard certification this summer, only had to tread water for five minutes to pass his test.  Ten minutes seemed like torture.


After all, we weren’t going anywhere.


We were staying in one place, seemingly stuck.


That’s not the only place in my life where I’ve felt stuck.  I’ve felt stuck in relationships, in areas I know I need to change, in my job, and in my relationship with God.  I’ve felt stuck in certain seasons of life.  Any time we stay in one place for too long, we can start to feel stuck – that it’s never going to end, that there is no purpose, or that we would do anything to get out.


I couldn’t see how this would help me in the future.


In the middle of this session of treading water, I couldn’t see the purpose of what we were doing.  What seemed pointless was actually a solid foundation for the skills I would need to become a good diver.  I had to be comfortable in the water, and treading water gave our instructor the chance to observe our comfort level.  I needed to be physically fit – it’s very difficult to dive when you are out of shape.  I needed to learn to listen to our dive instructor, no matter if we agreed with what he said or not, because one day we may get into a situation where we had already learned the importance of doing what he said.


Maybe the seasons I feel “stuck” are actually preparing me for what is next.  Maybe I wouldn’t be ready for what is coming if I didn’t spend the time learning the lessons that I am right now.  The very time that I think is wasted becomes the most foundational time for my future.

I was uncomfortable.


My legs started getting tired, and my arms wanted to give in.  I had to push myself mentally in order to accomplish what needed to be done physically.  I was stretched beyond what I thought I was capable of. (Read more about being stretched here.) Treading water was uncomfortable, but it taught me that I could accomplish more than I realized.


Could it be that this season is teaching you that you can accomplish more than you ever thought possible?


By the time we crawled, exhausted, out of the water, I saw the value of our test.


Treading water had prepared me for the future.


No matter how stuck I felt at the time, I knew there was an end in sight, and that I would exit the water better than I entered it.  In life, when I feel stuck, I need to start looking at how this will impact my future, to see what areas I am growing in without realizing it.


Have you ever felt stuck in a season or situation in life?



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