The first few times someone told me I was worthless, I didn’t believe them. Everything inside me screamed that this was a lie. But after hearing it long enough, it overwhelmed me. In essence, that poison dripped into my understanding of who I was until I nearly drowned in it.
The funny thing about drowning is that it’s silent. Forget what Hollywood shows with all the dramatic splashing and flailing. Once you’re really in trouble, it becomes physically impossible to struggle or to yell for help. The brain overrides the conscious control of your body, conserving precious oxygen for as long as possible. I know what that feels like. I was 9 when I almost drowned. Not knowing how to swim but fearless in the calm waters of Chesapeake Bay, I waded out into water up to my shoulders. A wave came in and as it went out, it took me with it. I had been standing on a sandbar and the wave pulled me off into deeper water. I slipped under immediately and my family didn’t see it happen. I remember so clearly drifting down, arms outstretched, back and way from the shaft of sunlight coming down through the water. I remember thinking how strange it was that the light was cold instead of warm. I drifted lower than the light could reach just before I blacked out. The next thing I remember was being in my father’s arms as he carried back into shore. I choked up saltwater for most of the afternoon.
Drowning emotionally and spiritually happened much more slowly. The lies sunk in a little at time, so slowly in fact that by the time I realized I was in over my head, it was too late to yell for help. I desperately tried just to survive. I couldn’t argue anymore. I couldn’t ask for help. I felt parts of me die and found I was powerless to do anything about it. I still remember it was one line in one book that started to reverse the process:
“The Bible says, ‘The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those who crushed in spirit.'”
That was enough to send me looking for my Bible and then for this passage. Rick Warren didn’t exactly tell me where to look. Took me awhile to find it in Psalm 34. I read more of the Bible that night than I had in years but some of it started to sink in, just a tiny bit. That was 8 years ago tonight.
It would seem only logical then that if the bad stuff had to seep in slowly, the good stuff would likely have to do the same. It has been a long, slow, steady one-drop-at-a-time process. It started with the simple realization that maybe, just maybe God wasn’t going to let me drown. And when I couldn’t reach out to anyone else, I reached out for God, only to find He already had me in His arms.