When You’re Scared to Jump

July 22, 2013 | 17 comments

Lydia stood at the end of the diving board, bending her knees just a bit to test out the springiness.  She’d jumped off the end plenty, but on this day, she wanted to dive.

I cheered and instructed from the side of the pool. “Hold your arms tight against your ears, and keep your chin down. You can do this, hon. You’ve done it dozens of times from the edge of the pool.”

So she tried. And tried. And tried again.

Most times, she landed in a sort of upside-down U shape, with her feet cutting into the water at the same time as her hands.

Each time, she’d surface from the water, looking more and more crestfallen as the afternoon wore on.  I stayed poolside, cheering and applauding. Some of the other moms, standing in the shallow end, had begun a slow chant — Lydi-A! Lydi-A! — each time she ascended the diving board stairs. Even the lifeguard offered encouragement.

But as the end of the afternoon neared, I could hear the wobbly edge of tears hanging on the edge of Lydia’s voice.

“Why can’t I do it, Mom? I don’t understand.”

I told her that she could do it, that it was really no different than diving off the edge of the pool.

Except, of course, that it was different. Because now, the elevated board underneath her feet was trying to intimidate her. That board had been bossing her around all afternoon, trying to make her think she was a chicken.

But the thing was, she’d already talked back to that bossy diving board. She’d already jumped, and leaped, and gotten it wrong, and then sort-of-close-to- right, and then wrong again. But she still kept going back, and that was how she could know she’d already grown bigger than her fears.

Courage isn’t really courage, I told her, if the thing she had to do wasn’t scary.

She stood next to me, at the edge of the pool, once more, with water dripping off the end of her nose. “But Mom?” she said. “I’m mostly worried that I’ll belly-flop. I’m worried that it will hurt.”

I thought about telling her that she wouldn’t belly-flop if she simply stretched out long and let her feet fly high. But that simply wasn’t true. Whenever we jump, we risk the belly-flop. And yes, it might sting.

So that’s what I told her. I told her that in life, some stuff — like diving — might actually hurt. Even if you’ve done the same thing before, from a safer place.

Sometimes, on the way to wherever you’re going? It can sting. But what stings didn’t have to stop us.

So she climbed those stairs once more, stood at the end, while the other mothers cheered, “Lydi-A! Lydi-A!” She pressed her arms against her ears, held her chin to her chest, and for the first time ever, she cut a hole through the water — hands, head, legs then feet. Her first real dive…




(Photo by Josh Kenzer, sourced via Flickr)

by | July 22, 2013 | 17 comments


  1. Ceil

    Hi Jennifer! I am visiting from Hear it on Sunday.

    As an ex-diver, I can completely see your daughter, and feel her anxiety. Yikes! Good for her, and good for you for giving her such wonderful encouragement.

    I can learn a lot from this post, because I often second-guess myself and I wonder if I am supposed to be doing things if they are ‘too hard.’ But the hard (stings) shouldn’t stop me, you are so right.

    Thank you for the encouraging word today 🙂

    Happy Monday!

  2. rkrumpe94

    Such encouragement for my not-so-courageous heart this morning! I shed many tears yesterday realizing I wasn’t as courageous as I thought. My fears are not rational and that intimidation strikes my heart again. What is it like to be on the other side of me? was the challenge from the pulpit yesterday. The action was to ask 5-10 people to respond to the question anonymously. This takes courage, genuine humility and vulnerability and I am struggling! I send the survey out but the courage comes in actually looking at the results. I am not quite there yet! But thank you for the encouragement to take step closer. Love, Rachael

  3. birdiecutair

    yes, it takes a lot of courage to dive off that board. I got that far, but not too successfully. I never did even jump off the high board. I guess all of us don’t want to think about possibly getting hurt. I will have to remember the diving board the next time I’m in a scary position where I have to do something difficult. Thanks!

  4. Angie Vik

    Yay for Lydia. I never got the hang of diving so quit trying. I’d watch my kids having fun diving and knew that I had missed out. Very good life lesson.m

  5. Lynn Morrissey

    I”m so proud of Lydia and the mama that raised her. Who of us isn’t afraid of something? But the only way to overcome it, by God’s grace, is to dive right into our fears, head-first. After the sting, we will sing as we punch a whole through fear and through the darkness. I needed to read this today!
    Love you, Jennifer!

  6. floyd

    Nice job, mom. You gotta love the spirit of Lydia. The ones that face the fears and the things that don’t come easy in life seem to have the advantage in the long run. I see it as a gift from God of perseverance which may be one of the greatest gifts a person can get. You handled it well. Good habits are being formed. Great story! Let her know I’m cheering because she refused to quit…

  7. Lea

    What a great story and illustration to all about life. And, the sooner we all learn that the better off we are in the long run. Blessings for a beautiful new week!

  8. Lisa notes...

    As someone who lives with fear (yes, including diving boards), I appreciate Lydia’s courage. And your encouragement to her. I’ll claim it for me, too. 🙂

    “Courage isn’t really courage, I told her, if the thing she had to do wasn’t scary.”
    “It can sting. But what stings didn’t have to stop us.”

    Thanks, Jennifer.

  9. Leah Colwell Adams

    Oh Lydia, I so understand your fear. It took me many tries to master diving. My sister got it almost instantly, but not me. In fact, my problem was that I could do a beautiful dive…..until I got halfway into the water and then my legs flew open spread wide like I was doing a split. Stink!! I just could not make those legs stay together.Then my dive coach decided that desperate times called for desperate measures. He tied my feet together!!!! It didn’t take too many times diving with my feet tied together for me to learn to KEEP THOSE FEET CLOSE AND TIGHT.

    Life is kinda like that. I gotta stay close and tight with my Jesus or it is not a pretty picture.

  10. Mindy

    Sometimes jumping does sting but the pain is soon forgotten and the reward so great.

  11. wendypainemiller

    I am here. In so many ways I feel as though I am right here.

  12. Beth Herring

    Oh I love this! I love how God uses our every day events in life to teach us such profound biblical truths!!

  13. Mia

    Dear Jennifer
    Life stings, dear friend! That just the way of a fallen world. Loving is also like diving from a very high board. It can hurt you terribly, but the hurt is preferable than never loving someone. I think that hurts the most.
    Blessings and love to you and Lydia

  14. Jean Wise

    What an encouraging post and one that motivates us to leap!

  15. Sam Van Eman

    hehe…fun story, Jennifer. I like how you gave life and personality to the diving board, because that’s how a challenge(r) really feels.


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