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  • Katie Smith

Just keep swimming

When we knew it was time to turn the page on our living quarters, we didn't know where to move. We knew we wanted to be open to change, but we weren't certain what that change looked like. I once loathed alterations; the ease of continuity feels like the dangling fruit constantly calling my name, but when something in my spirit moves me, I have two choices: fight and feel frustrated swimming against the current, or jump into the wave and enjoy the ride.

Counter-cultural "upstream" swimming is one kind of struggle worth enduring, but fighting pure change for the sake of ease is a different kind of fight with little to no value. In the beloved animated film Finding Nemo, the father clownfish, Marlin, fights to keep control and safety over his son. His disparity wraps him in an easy, static life among comfortable sea anemone. Dory, on the other hand, lives in the moment (literally), forgetting what is behind and enjoying her "ride" every second of the day.

When these two characters begin a difficult journey to find the lost clownfish, Marlin's crux occurs in the East Australian Current. He fights against the waves while Dory and the turtle pack move with the motion. Finally, Marlin reaches his breaking point and let's go of the fight. Then, he enjoys his journey while learning and meeting friends along the path to his desired destination.

Lately I vacillate between a Marlin and Dory existence. At times, I blissfully sing "Just keep swimming" and take steps blindly and faithfully towards my next adventure. But when my school of fish start crying or fighting, I succumb to Marlin's mentality. I wonder and worry like any other mama. I lack trust, and begin to settle somewhere that feels safer than the tumultuous current that's pulling me in an unknown direction.

Many people assume that I am spontaneous by nature, or that I easily live out my days without a plan or daily calendar based on many of my most recent life choices. However, those who have known me from birth, know my world revolves around a well-planned schedule (with open slots for spontaneity of course).

So I have to laugh when I hear, "I wish I could do that, but I'm just too structured." Or "That sounds so exciting, but I just need to know things in order to plan." These comments reference big life changes, like having babies, school choices, or most recently, selling a house without knowing where we will move.

Contradictions come into play when I choose careful carelessness, but those choices don't come easily all the time. I have to fight against my natural currency of comfort and control. I make a choice to let go of the personality traits that benefit only myself. Through faithful obedience, I begin to see the bigger, lasting rewards that come from letting go of my life and gaining a new Marlin-Dory mixed concoction, which benefits everyone.

You don't have to "wish or want" to let go of your hang ups or habits, you just have to ask God to help you take that first step out of the sea anemone. He knows how to push you so that you aren't injured, or if you do get a little banged up, He'll help you grow a new fin. However, you have to choose how to respond to the nudges and injuries. Fight or Swim. Either way, He will put people in your life to uphold you, encourage you, and push you to "just keep swimming" until you reach your final destination.

Just keep swimming....

~Carefully Carelessly Swimming

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