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The moral of the story

July 28, 2000

CINDY TRANE CHRISTESON

"The best way out is always through." -- Robert Frost

I do not like admitting my mistakes, failings or fears. But God

recently used an interesting experience in my life that showed me there

are times when it helps to share struggles with others.

In fact, I not only learned that I wasn't alone in a particular fear;

but by sharing it, I received help and encouragement and ultimate

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victory.

One of my favorite sports is swimming. I especially love long swims in

warm water, but I'm pretty happy swimming most anywhere. An ideal day for

me involves time in, on or around the ocean.

You can imagine my shock two years ago, then, when I did a triathlon

with our daughter, Kelly, and had a panic attack as soon as I hit the

water. I know that being bumped, bounced and trounced happens because

I've been in other ocean races. But what hit me that morning was much

more than other swimmers. I simply could not put my head in the water.

I prayed to God, and I talked to myself. I said, "Cindy, you love the

water, you're going to put your head in now." No sooner had my nose

touched the surface, however, than I started to hyperventilate. I swam

half the race with my head up--until I finally calmed down enough to put

my head in the water.

I completed the triathlon that day, although I have been haunted by

the memory.

When our other daughter, Amy, said she wanted to compete in this

year's triathlon, I decided to join her. I knew I had more than a

physical race ahead of me; however, I wanted to conquer my fear. The

first thing I did was admit my struggle. I thought it would be

embarrassing, but it was actually liberating.

Nobody laughed at me. Several people told me they had experienced the

same thing, so I knew I wasn't alone. Many said they would pray for me,

and others offered help.

One good friend named Becky called and asked, "When do you want to go

swimming?" I was surprised and answered, "Wow, Becky, I thought you

didn't like swimming in the ocean."

"I don't," she said. "But I'll do whatever I can to help and encourage

you."

I signed up for a swim clinic. Even perfect strangers there were

committed to helping me. As soon as we did the group start, though, my

heart began pounding and my head wouldn't budge.

One swim instructor swam with me for awhile and a lifeguard paddled

nearby. I thought about quitting and just cheering for Amy when someone

swam by and said, "You'll go faster if you put your head in the water."

I realized then that I didn't want fear to stop me. I relaxed and

finally put my head down.

I signed up for a second swim clinic. Amy said she would come, and

another good friend of ours named Michael offered to join us.

"I will swim next to you, and we will see you make a breakthrough in

this," he said.

And we did. You'll read more about that next week. For now I'll close

by saying: Everybody has fears, but nobody has to face them alone.

And you can quote me on that.

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