A few weeks ago, I was reading Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst (which I really recommend by the way!), a powerful book on working through times when we feel ‘less than’ – an all too common thread running through modern society today. Social media and the world around us is constantly reminding us that we can achieve more, do more and be more. In her chapter ‘Alone in a crowded room’, she addresses those moments when you truely feel like an outsider. Her most poignant writing (as far as I’m concerned, sitting over here in my little London apartment!) is the sentence where she drops the bomb ‘I can’t expect any other person to be my soul oxygen. I can’t live as if my next breath depends on whether or not they give me enough air for my lungs not to be screaming in pain. Because here’s the thing. People don’t mind don’t mind doing CPR on a crisis victim but no person is equipped to be the constant lifeline to another. We must respect ourselves enough to break the pattern of placing unrealistic expectations on others.’
Wow. Can I just say that I felt God was flashing a sign for me in the neon lights of Times Square in New York, Picadilly Circus in London and Shibuya Crossing in Japan.
As I thought back on previous romantic failed relationships, aside from the (very important!) fact that I felt God didn’t want me to be in them… I knew that there was definitely something that God wanted me to learn and take forward as the rubble and rocks that would form the building blocks of my future ordained relationship.
And as I walked off the tube that day, God quietly reminded me of my recent diving experience on the Gili Islands in Indonesia. He showed me that any good relationship could be compared to a Diver and his Dive buddy. Where the dive is your life journey, with God as your oxygen supply. God gives us all a full tank in life – of love, comfort, peace, joy and so much more. It’s everything our spirit, soul and body needs to enjoy the experience and delight in that which is around us. Things may go wrong on your dive (in life) but as any dive master will tell you – the most important thing is to be hooked up to your air supply (obvs!) i.e. God.
Sadly, sometimes with a full tank to ourselves, we reach out and expect others to be our oxygen supply. Now I don’t know about you, but I would be wholly frustrated if my dive buddy latched on to me, breathing through my air supply whilst carrying a full tank of oxygen of their own! And yet we all do it, myself included. Being bound to your buddy and insisting on breathing through their oxygen supply inhibits both divers from exploring on their own and sucks the oxygen supply of one diver at double the rate than they would have on their own. God showed me that a true dive buddy should given allow you to feel free and comfortable to explore more on your own whilst feeling reassured that they had your back in danger. We don’t need to be bound to one another, restricting one another’s movements or depleting each other’s air supply.
When God is your air supply, you get to enjoy the experience and adventure (of life) with your ‘dive buddy’ and yet also feel unrestricted to enjoy those things He’s created and planned specifically for you. There will be many shared experiences (that shared expression of excitement between buddies when one has spotted something particularly exciting) but also some that are uniquely your own. You may swim over to see some shiny fish (I’m a a real girly girl diver >> always after the pretty, colourful and illuminated fish!) whilst your dive buddy may be more intrigued by the ominous eels and sharks. The point being, the journey is fluid. 100% team and 100% interdependent all at once, through the air supply and love of God, that carries us individually and fuels the dive (life) journey to be experienced to it’s full capacity.
Through this analogy that played out inside my mind, it allowed me to truly understand the life giving oxygen that God provides in relation to that which we can expect from other people. It’s reminded me that one need not be fooled into trying to breath through your buddies supply but rather release yourself, through God’s life giving love and grace, to swim freely, exploring with wonder the great depths of the ocean.