"You cannot lift another soul until you are standing on higher ground than he is. You cannot light a fire in another soul unless it is burning in your own soul."- President Harold B. Lee
I don’t know if you’ve ever felt like you’re sinking, but I have. When I was about 9 my mom thought it would be a good idea to put me on the swim team. I thought it was a great idea, and I’d go every morning and be with my team The Dolphins. After a few weeks of this they decided to let us have a game day. They took us all down to the deep end of the pool, which was about 12 feet, and they split us up into two teams. The game was called Shark Attack. The object was to swim from one side of the pool to the other, without being touched by a “shark.” I thought this sounded like an easy enough game. There were a lot of people, and I thought I could sneak through. I knew how to swim, so I wasn’t very worried about it.
They blew the whistle and we were off. There was water splashing all over the place, and I started getting nervous about being kicked by the other swimmers. So I slowed down, and thought that maybe if I swam deeper, they wouldn’t get me. All I can say is that those “sharks” were vicious. All of the sudden someone shoved my head even deeper into the water. I started to panic. I was a lot deeper than I had initially intended to be.
I swam to the surface as fast as I could, and I took a big breath! I was so worried about getting air, that I hadn’t quite cleared the water when I took that breath, so I had water in my mouth. It was at that time that I started to have a full on panic attack. I looked around and I was exactly in the middle of the pool. I started trying to scream for help, but every time I did that, I’d stop concentrating on swimming and start to slip back under. I was doggy paddling and losing. All I knew is that I had to keep my head above water. I started to get really tired.
That’s when I saw someone swimming towards me. It was the lifeguard, a girl from my home ward, swimming towards me. I grabbed onto her like glue and wouldn’t let her go. Not only that but I tried to climb on top of her so that I could get more air. Because I was struggling, she was having a hard time keeping me and herself above the water. Eventually they got me to the edge of the pool and pulled me out. They wrapped me in a blanket and took me to call my mom. I was so relieved to finally be safe and surrounded by people who could take care of me!
*Fast forward 12 years*
I had been called to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the Taiwan Taipei Mission. I was called to learn and speak Mandarin Chinese. I was nervous and scared, and thought about turning around and going home so many times. I was in the MTC when I had a similar sinking experience.
I was having a hard day one day, and so I started reading the Bible. I read the account of Peter wanting to walk on the water.
22 ¶And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.
23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to apray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.
25 And ain the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good acheer; it is I; be not afraid.
29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was aafraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little afaith, wherefore didst thou bdoubt?
33 Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.
This is an excerpt from my journal:
"I had a hard time when we were practicing teaching today. I had said like 4 sentences by reading them out of our grammar/ sentence structure book, and that's all I had to say. It was on repentance, and that book is the only way I can say what I need to say. I just read the Pingyin and use it every time I teach. I can hear a lot of what people say, but I don't have the vocab to talk back. So I started to compare myself to my companions. They both talked for at least 5 minutes when teaching their part of the lesson, and one even did an object lesson. So I just thought “Why am I even trying? I know God can help me speak this language, but its sink or swim when I'm teaching, and I'm sinking." I was trying to control my emotions, when I looked up and saw a photo of Jesus walking on the water on the wall, and realized that I was acting like Peter.
I was walking on water walking straight toward God with faith, when I started to look to my left and my right and notice all the things I couldn't do instead of how amazing it was that I could "walk on water" or speak Chinese at all! I was sinking in an ocean, while the ship was far off. Yet there in the photo, was Jesus standing on the water reaching down to pull me up saying, "Oh ye of little faith, don't you know I can do all things?" So I felt myself being lifted out of my despair, and when my other teacher came in, he had me teach him the new grammar principle we learned, and I was actually able to teach him a little bit in Chinese by myself. Of course I accidently told him that "you can forgive God if you ask him" instead of "God can forgive you if you ask him" but besides that I think I got the point across.”
I was having little faith. I went to Taiwan, I learned how to speak Chinese, and made some amazing friends there! There have been other times when I’ve felt low in my life, but I always think back to this experience, and I know that God can lift me out of the stormy paths of life and back into his loving arms. I found this song "Walk On the Water" by Britt Nicole when I came home from my mission, it perfectly describes being afraid and learning to have faith to walk on the water.