In my seminars I tell a story about when I did the swimming leg of a triathlon and the life lessons I learned from that experience. I am not going to restate all the lessons we discuss in depth in the seminar today. Instead, I want to bring up a few other lessons from the parable of the deep water swim that are beneficial for us all to remember. Sometimes the only choices we have in our parenting race are either to keep doing the same thing we have always done and accept failure and frustration or to change our stroke in hopes of maintaining our vision. We all have times when we feel like we are being pulled down by other people around us. They may not even know that we are taking their comments so negatively. We need to keep in mind that everyone is just trying to move forward. Some people are more aware of how people feel than others. Don’t take comments personally. The person giving them probably didn’t want to pull you down. Also, it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks about what we are parenting like anyway. God is the revealer of truth. Follow his counsel and forget about everyone else.
If the children are pulling you down, then you know you need to improve the government system in your home. Life is going to be crazy sometimes, but behaviors which pull the family down should never be tolerated. Remember to keep your tolerances low. I have met many people that have looked like perfect parents. They probably weren’t, but it seemed like they were to me at the time. There will always be times when it seems like people are passing you up and you are moving so slow in your parenting race. As a person who probably gives people the impression from time to time that I am flying past everyone else, know this: every day is a new challenge for EVERYONE. No one is excluded from challenges. The only way I have found to make my race more enjoyable is to focus on principles instead of drama. Focusing on dramatic situations doesn’t help people solve anything, but focusing on principles brings peace and clear vision.
My wet suit was putting a lot of pressure on my chest. This feeling made me panic. I am pretty sure that I had a panic attack in the lake that day. It is significant to note that I put the wet suit on. I put the pressure on myself. As parents, we are constantly putting pressure on ourselves. Some of this pressure is motivating, but lots of it (such as comparing ourselves to others or making unreasonable lists of things to accomplish) only creates anxiety and stress. We can easily burn out and have panic attacks if we don’t take time to calm down.
There was a point in my race where I was swimming in a spot with no other swimmers. I found my swimming rhythm there. From this I learned to remember that if my home rhythm doesn’t feel like I want it to, I probably need to pull back from things in the world and be alone at home with my family; away from other swimmers until I find my rhythm. We often make ourselves too busy.
When other swimmers passed me, I started taking in waves from them, and I felt like I was almost drowning. Don’t try to be like someone else or you will drown. God gave you the perfect personality to lead your children to their greatness. Ask yourself, "What gift was I given specifically to inspire change in my children?" Parent the way your family needs you to. Consciously choose your schedule and family moments so that they support your vision for your family.
We accomplish what we train for. I trained for my swim to take me exactly 23 minutes, and when all the challenges of the swim were over, I found out it took me exactly 23 minutes. This applies to the visions we have for our families. Whatever we prepare for in our families will most likely happen even though the long hard journey may make us think that we aren't going to make it to our goal. As long as we keep focusing on solid principles, our families will make it to our goals. James Allen said, “As a man Thinketh so he is.”
Success in life is finding out what our Father wants us to do and doing it. This applies to parenting as well as everything else. After swimming the deep water of life, I know that my loving Father in Heaven will be there to tell me, “You did the hardest part. You did what no one else wanted to do, and I love you for it.” just like my dad was at the end of my triatholn telling me these very words. Even if my body dies, this approval will be all that really matters.