I want to tell you about a place I used to go last summer. It’s called Seven Peaks. Seven Peaks is a very little water park, but it’s all we’ve really got around here as far as water parks go. The Peaks fills up fast with little kids in bulky swim diapers, scantily-clad teenagers sprawled across their towels on the astro turf, mothers in floral maternity swim wear trying to talk their kids out of wanting overpriced slices of pizza, and scattered groups of stir-crazy college students trying to make-up something extreme to do in the next 30 minutes before class.
I was thinking about this place today as I blow-dried my hair. I was thinking, specifically, about The Wave Pool, where 6 inches of shallow water swoops down to a 20 foot depth. For some reason I have never understood, wave pools only have waves in short, timed intervals. In between, everyone just floats on their tubes or bobs up and down treading water. At these times it seems a relatively calm place, full of the diapered children and scanty teenagers and floral moms and restless college kids I’ve told you about. The people are loud but the water itself is silent. The water is still. Everyone: waits.
Then, this awful buzzer sounds. For about ten dragging seconds the sheer nuisance of this noise pierces through the park and lets everyone know that the wave pool is now actually going to do what it’s supposed to. And then, the waves come. They’re small at first, little traveling swells that displace each body a few inches higher, and then lower again. Moms at the shallowest part can be heard making enthusiastic noises at their bulky-diaper-bottomed babies. Gasp!-ing and Ooop!-ing and Ooooooh!-ing. But then the waves get bigger, and though everyone there came for these waves in the first place, though we’ve all been anticipating their return, and though we were all warned by the buzzer and lifted by the little beginning swells, there always seems to be a sense of panic in the water once the big waves come. A feeling of chaos, where the person’s head you could see just a second ago is now hidden by the next big wave, and kids are yelling and no one can hear you and you better watch out so you don’t get totally womped in the face by a surprise lift in the water or a kid on a kamikaze tube. At some point, a few kids doggy-paddle breathlessly for the sides of the pool, they hang on right under the lifeguard and cling safely to the wall ‘til it’s over. Some swim for shallower water, where their tiny dangling feet can touch the concrete bottom, at lease between waves. A few of the big-butted babies have to be plucked from their 6 inches of water because it keeps becoming a whole foot tall as it breaks on the surface. No one is quiet, even the water is splashing over heads and sloshing onto the pavement. This is the scene I was re-living today.
Because before I was dryin my hair I was takin a shower, and before that I was sleeping in my bed, having tried all other answers for making a certain feeling go away. This feeling is something that showed up in my life sometime yesterday, something I’ve been trying to explain to myself every hour since. And today, while watching myself in the mirror as my bangs blew wildly out of control, I knew. I knew how to explain it! My life is a wave pool right now, and I’ve just heard the buzzer.
The buzzer came on like this: yesterday I received a text from my Bishop.
“Just checked the missionary website… your call was sent yesterday.”
Reality: It’s on the way.
As I read this, I felt something shift within me. It was something like a warning, a buzzer… and I knew distinctly that the water was about to get rougher. This is real: my call is on the way. Almost immediately, the opposition set in. Since then there have been little waves of fear. Little waves of panic. Big waves of opposition.
So big that when someone I really love laughed at my conviction, everyone else laughed back. Could they have been laughing at anything else? I couldn’t tell. I laughed too. So much that I cried, and then couldn’t stop crying, and then laughed overtop to cover it up.
So much that thoughts of Is-this-really-right-am-I-crazy-have-I-let-it-go-further-than-I-can-handle-am-i-ready-and-what-if-I-am, in fact, laughable? buzzered through my brain until I was clinging to the side and hanging my head so the lifeguard wouldn’t see that I was too tired to swim for shallower water.
So much that that night, as a last resort, I stared myself down in the mirror and reminded my own reflection who I was, and why I was, and what I absolutely will not back down about. Because if I were not supposed to go on this mission, I would feel that with a surety. It would come by the holy ghost ,which is calm and peaceful, and not by waves of whirlwind questions. It would never be enforced by fear and it would never, ever make me feel panicked.
But here’s the thing about wave pools, as high as the water may rise, you can’t whine. You knew this was going to happen. No one enters that twenty feet of water so they can just float around for a while. I am going on a mission. You are too, in some form or another, and we are prepared to fight the waves that will undoubtedly come in intervals for the remainder of this experience. I believe that God will give us sufficient intervals of calm, still water inbetween.
My call comes on Wednesday. Get ready.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: thought war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”