deep and wide

Today, I got to spend most of the afternoon with two of my favorite people - Jamila and U'ilani who lived with us for a few months about two years ago. Since U'ilani was a few days old, I have loved watching her grow, loved hearing her baby voice, loved it when she stopped screaming... loved holding her hand as she learned to walk, loved watching her curiosity grow barely faster than she did. She has definitely grown independent in the last year for a three-year old, or at least she thinks so...

The first half-hour in the pool was fun for everyone, and she happily splashed people, kicked her legs, and jumped on and off floaties with me holding her every second. But before too long, she grew discontent. She had gotten so comfortable in the water that she figured she must know how to do this herself! So she started struggling, trying to get out of my arms. I knew the pool was wide, the water was deep - well over her head, and she didn't even know to hold her breath, so I held on to her.

Sometimes, she struggled so hard to get out of my grasp that she knocked her own face into the water and came up spluttering and coughing. Rather than grab on to me all the tighter, she seemed to think I caused the whole problem and tried all the harder to get off on her own. Sometimes I let her dip into the water a little farther than normal to try and remind her that she wouldn't stay on top of the water if I let go. Still, she wanted to do it herself. But even though I loved her and wanted to give her what she wanted, I knew that real love would keep her safe. Someday she'll understand it.

We are all like U'ilani sometimes. We've gotten comfortable in life, and we don't know why we have to be so dependent on God. We can do this ourselves, right? We're not asking God to get out of the pool or anything, we still want to be friends, but could He give us a little space?

We start struggling, and sometimes things flop on us. Our head goes under water. We ask God how He could let this happen to us, not stopping to think that maybe we asked for it ourselves. Or maybe God is even trying to remind us where true safety lies.

It may seem like you're struggling to stay above water in your life. It seems like the pool is more like an ocean, and you're realizing it's too deep to stand, and too wide to swim out. But God is simply waiting for us to come to our senses, to understand once again that He is holding on to us and will lift us securely into His arms when we embrace them. His love is deep and wide. Deeper and wider than anything we face.

Even though U'ilani violently demonstrated that she didn't want me over and over and over, when she came to me afterward to say goodbye and laid her head on my shoulder, I never wanted to let go.

Whether you've been kicking and pushing away from God for the last few hours or your entire life, His love waits for that moment when you come running back.

U'ilani won't understand for a few years. I hope we understand tonight.


  1. Wonderful post, Shelby. The parallels between U'ilani's struggles in the water and the struggle for 'freedom' so many people experience makes it easy to understand our need to trust - and rest - in our Heavenly Father. Thanks for sharing this today.

  2. Very well said, Shelby! This is an excellent reminder of God's love and strength and our stubbornness. Don't you love how life is full of allegories like that?


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