I am not more faithful than when I was twenty.
I am filled with the same doubts and fears.
It’s just that now I live
Into my faith more than my doubts
And pray to walk with a heart wide open;
To live into the hope that love is eternal,
And allow the course of the river to carry me,
Instead of trying to swim upstream.
– Becca Stevens
Swimming upstream is difficult, but we have all tried to do it. As a metaphor of life, swimming upstream looks like working our fingers to the bone to accomplish something that is barely possible. I don’t know about you, but I know that I have done that many times for several of my obsessions.
I tried to breathe life into a struggling nonprofit organization for ten years. I tried to build a vibrant church with a group of weary people. I tried to squeeze funding out of the City of Little Rock far beyond where they were willing to go. I tried to get the City to reinstate the Little Rock Commission on Domestic Violence. I tried to get a family court judge to remove a child from the home of an abuser. I tried to host an annual black tie gala without any budget . . . just to name a few.
One could legitimately ask if I was crazy or just foolish. Many people actually did ask that. In a nutshell, I chose to swim upstream far too long. I had life jackets, lifeguards, and lifeboats all along the way. But nothing helped me finish the swim in victory. I just swam until I could swim no more. The breath in me was gone and the energy of my body was not far behind.
Finally . . . Finally, I am beginning to learn how to allow the course of the river carry me. And I am at last getting somewhere. Emotionally, I am being carried upstream by a healthier psyche. Physically, I have given in to inevitable kidney failure, but am learning to make peace with it and listen to what my body needs. Spiritually, I am allowing myself to be carried in God’s everlasting, protective arms.
The reality is that the words of Becca Stevens are true for me. I am not more faithful than I was when I was twenty. I am definitely filled with the same doubts and fears. But now I do live into my faith more than my doubts. Now I walk forward with my heart wide open and into the wonderful hope that love is eternal.
Most importantly, I am allowing myself to be carried by the natural course of the river. “Allow” is the important word here. I have given up swimming upstream, and at the same time, have allowed the river to carry me.
What’s all this about the river? Well, the river is a metaphor for being carried by God in loving, compassionate, protective arms.
River, river carry me on
Living river carry me on
River, river carry me on
To the place where I come from
(Lyrics by Peter Gabriel)