The day came. Lifeguard certification day. I was nervous as to what this whole procedure would be.
I had passed the written portion with flying water-colors, but now the fear of the unknown was gripping my heart. I was trained, but was I prepared? Was I really ready?
The instructor had asked us to show up wearing jeans, long-sleeve button down shirts, and closed-toe shoes over our bathing suit. While this kind of dress was warm and cozy in the cool morning air, I felt the burden of the extra weight.
Lined up for testing.
Sleepy-eyed I was. Full of energy and pep was Instructor. He lined us up at the deep end edge of the pool in our extra garb. He shouts across the way, “You will be timed. You are to jump in and de-clothe yourself. Every moment counts. GO!”
There was no time for thinking about the cold water. Or how the weight of the clothes would drag me down. I just jumped, thanking God we had practiced this before. Well, do you call it practice if you are laughing and giggling the whole time?
But this morning, the weight seemed unbearable as I splashed in to the cold water. The shoes had to go they were confining and making it impossible to tread water. Next the jeans. Did you know jeans weigh at least 27 extra pounds when wet?
Trying to catch my breath, there was one more piece of clothing to shred. As the shirt came off button-by-button, I could feel the burden of extra baggage fall away. A renew sense of energy came over me as I swam quickly back to the side to clock in my time.
I had passed at the top of my class. Was that it? Were we done?
Soon Instructor had us out of the pool lined up again. He said now that we were warmed up (which we were all panting like exhausted dogs), it was time for the lifesaving portion of the test. My heart began to pump faster. You could tell Instructor was there to really test us. There was no laughing or giggling. It was pass or fail.
I had prepared and practiced extra hours for this, but my mind was playing the whole “am I really ready” record over and over in my head.
He called my name.
“Alene, you’re up!” I wanted to argue like Moses, “No, I’m not the one. Pick someone else.” But that would make me seem weak and unprepared.
So, I shakily step to the side of the pool. In serious fashion Instructor says, “I will be your downing victim. You will assess how to rescue and save me.”
My mind is going nuts. I sure hope he is drowning close to the side so I can use the shepherd’s crook and swoop him out. Have you seen how big he is? He usually lets us practice on one another. Today we have rescue him. He’s huge. Lord, please help me!
Instructor swims clear out to the middle of the deep end and begins to fake his drown. I assess. There was no time to waste.
I jump in with my feet-first surface dive keeping my eyes on the victim. I swim towards him knowing he is an active drowning victim and would need to be approached from the rear. I make my approach and as I reach to straddle my arm across his chest he pulls me under.
He about drowned me.
Before I knew it. I was at the bottom of the pool with a 247 pound man standing on top of my shoulders flailing around. I couldn’t get away. He was hysterical in his motions. And I was getting hysterical as I was loosing breath fast.
All the sudden I remember he had said in class one day, “Sometimes you need to hurt the victim or do something to get their attention to take control.”
With everything I had I clawed in to his strong man-calves that were perched on my shoulders. I clawed my way up his leg until he let go of me.
Finally, spinning him around I quickly emerged for a breath. Grabbed across his chest as tight as I could. I was in control now and swam his sprawling body towards the side of the pool.
I was so thankful to see the side of a pool. I hung there lifeless. Looking into my eyes Instructor says, “Well done. You have some fight in you. Remember that, you’ll need it down the road.”
I didn’t realize in the moment how I needed him to fight me, to train me for a real drowning. I didn’t know what was ahead in my ten years of guarding, but he did.
Hearing the words “you passed” that day, I knew I had earned it. I had fought hard and conquered.
Whether you are lifeguarding or in the battle of rescuing souls — training, preparing, and testing are needed. [tweet that]
At the moment, you will not see the importance of training over and over. You will not like the fight before you. But with each battle you become stronger, more efficient, and braver to handle the next drowning victim in front of you.
As I mentioned yesterday, I’m in Atlanta getting training for a Rescue House. I’m learning from Out of Darkness ministries. I’m taking it all in. I’m trying to remember every detail because I know there will come a day when I will have to fight.
Fight for a soul. Fight for a cause. Fight for a breath.
I want to know I am trained up well. I don’t want to just survive but rather to hear another, “Well done.”
QUESTION: Are you trained up and ready to fight for a cause, soul, or your next breath?
After wrestling with the word rescue for months, I decided to bring this word to life. I’ll expose the truths stirring in my soul regarding this daring, venturesome, and fearless word. Oh how I’d love your input too!