Earlier this summer, we were lounging beside the pool when my seventeen-year-old daughter Riley suggested we get in the water. She wanted to sit on the steps in the shallow end. But when I looked at that portion of the pool, I saw young mothers crowding the steps to watch their babies and toddlers splash around. I told Riley that I would get in the pool but declined to occupy the steps. I’d done my time in the shallow end. I’d sat on those steps for years. Not that I didn’t enjoy the time when my children were small, but I felt relieved that we were beyond that period as a family, especially with respect to the summer season.
When my kids were little, I experienced a great deal of anxiety during the summer months. Elementary school was out for the oldest ones, routine disappeared, and with four kids, I usually had a baby or toddler under foot as well. I worried about keeping the kids entertained and engaged, so I arranged swim lessons and numerous day camps that kept us on the move. I didn’t understand the mothers who simply adored the summer and wrote about that love on social media. They lamented summer’s end while I rejoiced to see the school supplies arrive in stores.
But then, a few years ago, my perspective shifted. I’m not exactly sure what happened. Maybe it was because all my children were getting older, and no longer needed constant monitoring. They could entertain themselves. Maybe it was because all my kids learned to swim, so I didn’t have to hover as much at the pool. Maybe it was partly because Covid shut everything down, including all day camps, and so we had to be more flexible and go with the flow. But at some point, I started to relax. I didn’t feel the need to fill every minute with activities. I began to understand the other mothers who craved summertime and wished for it to continue indefinitely. I felt calmer and began to thoroughly enjoy summer with my kids.
We can’t always pinpoint a moment when our perspectives shift because it usually involves a process. At times, God asks us to engage in the process of change too. God may want us to reevaluate our views or open our minds to new ways of looking at situations. When I was younger, I held different beliefs about numerous things, including matters of spirituality and religion. But as I grew up, matured, moved to new places, and met a variety of people, I also experienced new understandings about God. I learned that my comprehension of God and the Bible was not the only way to interpret matters of faith. Everything was not as black and white as I thought. Different churches, educated clergy, and social justice advocates within religious denominations don’t always agree.
As someone who likes rules and knowing what to do in all circumstances, I had to shift my perspective about faith. I came to accept that we will not understand everything about God and that is okay. Faith is not a math equation. The writer of Ephesians said, “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe” (Ephesians 1:17-19). Developing a relationship with God, learning more about the character of God, and understanding better God’s desire for us is a process. A process in which God reveals himself continually so that we may know him better. We must pray that we keep the eyes of our heart open to who God is, how much God loves all of us, and how he hopes we act, especially as to the outcast or oppressed.
As my perspective shifted over time, I became more at ease with uncertainty and doubt. I became more at peace with developing a relationship with God that allows me to search and change as I understand God better. No one person or church or denomination has all the answers. If we stay open to learning, growing, and deepening our relationship with God, then we will more closely follow God’s hopes for us as his people. And that may require a shift in a previous perspective.
With God’s help and guidance, we will better follow God’s overarching command to love and care for his people. Then, we can dive deeper into our relationship with God instead of remaining in the shallow end of faith.