Finding Your LIP! In Honor Of Veterans Day

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Boot camp was everything the young man expected and then some! Grueling, exhausting even what some might label abusive at times but he embraced it all.  Small in stature, the young man went above and beyond to prove that there was more to him than just size.  He excelled in all the physical tests except one; he had not been able to successfully vault over a wall that was part of an extensive obstacle course. In every attempt, he always fell short of being able to grab the top of the wall and propel himself over.

The night before the final tests of boot camp, he was awakened by his Drill Sergeant and ordered to go outside. Sure that he was about to be chastised for his failure on the course that day, the young man stoically waited for what was to come. Instead, his instructor led him to his nemesis: The Wall.  Then the young man was given an odd instruction: feel the wall.  Disciplined to respond to orders, he did as he was told. He slowly walked the length of the wall as he ran his hands over the rough surface. Thoughts tumbled about in the young man’s head. This wall stood between him and his long held goal of becoming a Marine. If he wasn’t able to get over this wall tomorrow, he would fail and be sent home.

The graveled voice of his Sergeant barked at him.

“Find a way over that wall!”

The young man pressed closer and breathed a silent prayer, “I gotta find a way.” and then he felt it…. a small niche, a lip in the face of the wall. Stepping back, he marked where the lip was and then began the circuit of the obstacle course which included running, belly busters, slide for life and swinging from ropes. He smoothly managed through each of these and then the wall loomed darkly before him.  Heart pumping wildly, he raced towards it.  In one fluid movement, he leaped on the wall, his boot instinctively finding the lip. Pushing up with strong arms, he grasped the top of the wall and sailed over! As he hit the ground on the other side, excitement surged and tingled. He’d made it!  He knew in his heart that he’d be able to repeat this performance the next day and he did. But what thrilled him even more than that accomplishment were the words he received from his Drill Sergeant after graduation: “Good job Marine.” He’d successfully become one of the few and the proud.

(November 10th Marine Corp Birthday – Happy Birthday Marine Corp! Semper Fi) 

This story inspired me to find my own LIP.  Life presents us with obstacles every day and often they seem to be just as daunting as that wall appeared to be to that young man. But I learned 3 things from this story that I want to share with you.

  1.  Get yourself an accountability partner. Someone who will challenge you to do what’s in your heart and not let you back away from it
  2.  Be willing to face the obstacles that stand in the way of your goal. “Feel the wall.” You may find your  answer in the midst of your problem
  3.  Understand that your goal is worth every ounce of effort you have to expend to get it. Don’t back away from the challenges of reaching what you really want

Exercise In Nine Feet Of Water? I Don’t Think So!

I signed up for the “Y” and eagerly looked forward to my first water aerobics class. The brochure said beginner and expert swimmers would enjoy the session. I figured I was as close to a beginner as I could get: I don’t know how to swim! How deep could the water be anyway? 4 maybe 4 and half feet? My 5 feet 2 and a quarter inch could handle that.

When I arrived, I grabbed a few towels at the front desk and headed for the outside lap pool. A few early morning risers were already swimming laps. I noticed two ladies at the far end and strolled in their direction. “Are you here for the water aerobics?” I inquired. They grinned in welcome. “Yes!” “I’m Frieda.” Said one. She was slim with gray curly hair. The other was pleasingly plump and pleasantly proportioned. Her name was Nancy. She had a delightful Scottish accent and immediately set to work making me feel at home.

“First we have to get you a buoyancy belt.” She explained. I had no clue what that was. Turns out it’s supposed to keep you afloat in the deep water. I eye it suspiciously. It didn’t look like much to me. Nancy assisted me with getting it cinched nice and tight around my waist before leading the way into the pool. “Just follow me.” She reassured me. “I promise, you will float.” Nancy descended the ladder on the nine feet side and quickly slid into the water. “Oooh. It’s a wee cold!” She called out. “Just get your shoulders under the water as soon as you can and you’ll warm up quickly.”

I cautiously tested the water. Yeah, it was cold! Slowly, I eased my body down the ladder . Nancy cheered me on all the way. “There you go! You’re almost there. Now, dunk your shoulders under so you can get used to the water.” It took me a few minutes but I finally made it completely in and promptly proceeded to go under! Nancy was immediately by my side. “Don’t panic! Just relax your body and let the belt do the work. It will keep you above the water. Trust the belt to do it.” I wanted to believe her. I really did. But I grabbed hold of the side of the pool for dear life. I wasn’t about to let go!

Just then the instructor, Carolyn, showed up. Nancy called out to her in greeting. “Hey there Carolyn! Meet our new comer, Edwina. This is her first time and she can’t swim!” Carolyn smiled and waved. “Welcome Edwina! Let me get you a noodle!” She walked over to plastic bin and picked up what looked like a long piece of colored Styrofoam. Stooping beside me where I was still clinging to the side of the pool; she offered me the noodle and proceeded to explain its merits. “This is just a little something to make you feel safer. Put it under your arms or you can sit on it.” I tried it under my arms and what do you know? That was exactly what I needed! Carolyn turned on some Chubby Checker music and donned some really weird looking webbed gloves before getting in the pool herself to start the class.

The next hour was spent having the most fun I’d ever had in a pool! I did have a few close calls during the aerobic routine. Once I leaned forward just a tad too much and lost my balance. I thought I was going under and begin flailing the waters. Carolyn was there in an instant. “I got cha. Don’t panic” Pointing up to the life guard, she gave me a little bit more encouragement. “See that young lady sitting up there?” She’s got her eye on you too. You’re covered!” The life guarded nodded in my direction and waved. Between the belt, the noodle, Carolyn AND the life guard, I was destined to stay alive until the end of class! Later, I gave Carolyn and Nancy big hugs and thanked them for making the day very comfortable and enjoyable for me. They congratulated me for braving the deep waters on my first visit. I thanked everyone and assured them I’d be back for the next class.

Later as I dried off and dressed to go home, I thought about the very valuable life lesson I’d learned.
First, I pondered: What in the world would make me get in nine feet of water when I know I can’t swim?
• I was encouraged
• I had support
• I had help
• I wasn’t judged or made to feel incompetent
• I was reinforced when I tried
• I felt genuinely welcomed

Doesn’t the Lord do the very same thing with us?! Oh yes He does! He truly helps us to navigate through the ‘deep waters’ of life! As I applied that lesson to my relationship with God, I felt His love in a whole new way! I felt like the little girl from the movie, “The Help.” The Lord was telling me, “ You is smaaart. You is kiiind. You is important! The grammar police may not like it but I was sho feelin blessed!
Have a great day!