From fear to freedom

A scuba diving class? In the middle of winter? I had grown up in a warm climate and lived close to the ocean, so I felt perfectly at home in the water. But it seemed rather surreal to walk through the dark, cold nights muffled up in my coat, boots, and scarf to take this class at my Midwestern college.

I found my courage and physical ability continually challenged. I had loved swimming all my life, but scuba diving felt very different. Hearing myself breathe was unsettling, and the mask, mouthpiece, air tank with straps, weight belt, and flippers gave me a feeling verging on claustrophobia.

Since my college was a school for Christian Scientists, my friends and I approached this course with prayer. In past difficult experiences, I’d learned to trust in this powerful statement from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy: “Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need” (p. 494). 

I had loved swimming all my life, but scuba diving felt very different. 

So, instead of feeling overwhelmed by the challenges, I approached each one as an opportunity to prove God’s perfect care and provision for me. And through prayer and my friends’ encouragement, I was able to accomplish most of the underwater assignments, swimming with full scuba gear through obstacle courses on the pool floor as the instructor’s assistants introduced us to hypothetical emergencies.

However, in spite of consistent prayer, one particular task seemed beyond my skill and courage. The assignment was to jump from the side of the pool into the deep end, where our diving gear was waiting at the bottom. We had to turn on our air tank, put everything on, and then swim to the shallow end of the pool—all without coming up for air. We quickly learned that women’s bodies are more buoyant than men’s, and in several tries, I could not stay down long enough to even get started. Some others in the class also failed at this challenge.

Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the challenges, I approached each one as an opportunity to prove God’s perfect care and provision for me.

On the last night of the class, we had to complete a final test. All went well until I realized the test included performing that one assignment at which I had failed. At first, I was terrified. As I humbly prayed for courage and strength and trusted God, divine Love, to care for me, the fear left me, and I was eager to conquer these feelings of limitation and failure. I knew, as the Bible assures us, that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalms 46:1) and that “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). Holding to these ideas as the spiritual facts governing the situation, I jumped in, completed the task perfectly, and actually found it to be fun. The pool with its pale blue light was lovely. I had a wonderful feeling of freedom as I got out of the water at the shallow end.

I passed the course, and so did all my classmates. Later, a friend and I passed our open-water dive at a beautiful underwater coral reef state park in the Florida Keys and received our certification. The claustrophobic feeling never returned, and I still remember the sense of deep joy and freedom as I swam among the colorful schools of fish at the coral reef. 

Since this experience, I’ve had an abiding trust that I really can feel safe anywhere in God’s creation and that God’s loving care is with me wherever I go and whatever I face.

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