The Following is an excerpt from Johnny Walker’s upcoming book Foundational Core Values:
Imagine an ocean. We play in it, explore its mystery and gaze at its beauty. But beneath the surface is a dangerous world, a place where a person can’t breathe. Amazingly, when we dive down to look for shells we almost instinctively know how far we can go before we have to turn around.
There are those times when a person goes too deep, and they begin to fear they may not make it back to the surface alive. When this occurs and their oxygen levels get low, they will do everything within their power to get back to the surface. Legs and arms flailing, they struggle to reach the blue sky above them that seems miles away. In their panic to survive, people in this situation have been known to seriously injure or even drown those that attempt to rescue them.
Eventually, either on their own accord or through the help of another, their head breaches the surface of the water. They gasp for breath over and over again, almost fearful that someone will breathe the air in before they do. After a few moments the person may gratefully float barely above the surface of the water that almost claimed their life, enjoying their ability to breathe once again.
No longer panicked, they are moving much slower now. Eventually they might climb up on a raft or onto a boat, but even that effort is minimal compared to the effort they exerted getting to the surface.
In the same manner people put forth great effort to get out of a crisis. They will spend every last dollar they have and focus all their attention to get back to the surface called “normal.” Once they break the surface they will enjoy the breather. They actually feel euphoric to be back on this side of normal. Unfortunately, once they are out of crisis they place very little effort in personal growth once the crisis has ended.
Many married couples narrowly escape the emotional wake of divorce through the helpful guidance of a counselor only to find themselves divorced a few years later. Why didn’t they go back to counseling when they found themselves back in crisis? They will tell you that it was because “counseling didn’t work.”
Actually, it did work. The problem was they stopped working on their marriage the moment they breached the surface and got out of crisis mode. Inevitably, they slowly slipped back beneath the surface once again.
My biggest frustration as a counselor has always been diving beneath the surface to help people get back up for air, only to watch them sink back beneath the waves because they believe that once they are breathing again, there is nothing more to do.
That’s probably why I went back for my coaching certification and rebuilt by practice around coaching. I still do quite a bit of counseling, but I let them know that getting out of crisis is only the beginning, and I now let them know that it will probably be a minimum six month commitment and possibly longer to get out of crisis and learn new skills to overcome the bad habits they’ve spent their lives creating. If they want a quick fix, they can go somewhere else.
Seem harsh? Maybe, but I got tired of working harder than my clients were. You see, Jesus didn’t come to earth to just get us out of crisis so we could exist just above the waves. In John 10:10 Jesus said he came for us to have and abundant life. In the Greek that means a superior life, an extraordinary life, an uncommon life.
When I say abundant, I don’t mean earthly treasures; we are to build treasures in heaven. (Matthew 6:20) If we have earthly treasures we are supposed to utilize them for our care, the care of our family and the care of others as we further His kingdom. In the end, we will hand it all back to Jesus and give an account of how we invested what we were given. (Matthew 25:14-30) I believe that abundant life is found in the peace of knowing who you truly are and living purposefully.
It’s life, not perfection! And we aren’t meant to live just above the waves, gasping for air. There is an abundant life out there to be had for those who seek, ask and knock. You will never find it if you only attend and listen.
There is help for those who care to seek. The rest… I guess they will continue to dog paddle just above the waves and wonder why they keep sinking back down beneath them, eventually never to return.