Saturday, July 24, 2010
Lessons I learned from a pool full of algae
We have an in-ground pool. It took us several years to master the art of caring for an in-ground pool but I like to think we did it. This year in particular has gone very smoothly because we chose to open it in April, which is extremely early, but by doing so we were able to get the chemicals balanced before any algae had time to develop when the warm weather hit. Algae is a pool owner's worst enemy. Green water is our nightmare. To stay ahead of the algae is always the goal.
Two weeks ago I spotted some green shading in our deep end. (Uh oh.) I quickly checked my chemical levels and realized that due to the humidity and lots of extra swimming, the chlorine was practically non-existent so I quickly added some. Unfortunately, the following day, the deep end looked like a swamp. After attempting our own chlorine treatments with no success, my husband headed to Classic Pools where he bought a chemical called Yellow Out. Magically, the following day the pool was cleaner and bluer than it had been all season! So I started calling that the Magic Chemical. (I'm pretty clever that way.)
All was well until the following weekend when I noticed that darn color green again and by Sunday the entire pool was a full blown swamp complete with a lizard, I kid you not. This time, we took a water sample to Knickerbocker. They tested the water, said everything was fine, and told us to dump 6 gallons of chlorine in and the problem would magically go away. We did as we were told and the pool actually looked worse the next day so back to Classic Pools I went with a water sample and a request for some more Magic Chemical. When she tested the water she said, "You have a zero alkalinity level. If you don't address that problem, it won't matter how much Chlorine or Magic Chemical you pour into your pool. Your problem will continue to get worse until you deal with the root issue."
Over the next several days, I was forced to face my inner struggle with impatience as I drove back and forth, 30 minutes each way, to Classic Pools once and sometimes twice a day as I worked on slowly increasing our alkaline. In the meantime, the swamp remained in our backyard on one of the hottest most humid weeks of the summer. Three days later I finally got the go ahead to purchase and add the Magic Chemical, but this time I read the instructions on the bottle and realized I'd skipped a couple of important steps. So I carefully followed every step this time and voila, the pool is blue again.
I couldn't miss some very obvious correlations between my dealings with my algae pool and my spiritual life. I'm no Beth Moore and I'm actually quite nervous about even attempting to explain what God showed me, so please forgive me if it comes across muddled and confusing. Here goes......
"Whoever believes in me, as the scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." John 7:38
Those words were spoken by Jesus. I am a believer and a follower of Jesus Christ, therefore, according to this verse, streams of living water flow from within me. But I'm a human being. I'm not perfect and my life is full of sin.
So indulge me for just a second while in my simple-minded way of thinking I compare myself to a swimming pool:
1. It only takes a tiny spore of sin to give Satan a foothold allowing him to spread it wildly through me to where I'm green, cloudy, and unattractive, therefore I require regular maintenance. I need to be in communication with my Savior on a daily basis.
2. Extreme conditions require an extra amount of maintenance to stay ahead of a problem. During particularly stressful times in my life or when I'm feeling especially vulnerable, attacked or tempted, I need to increase my connection with the Lord.
3. You have to treat the root of the problem and make sure your foundation is secure on the inside before you'll notice a visible difference on the outside. There are plenty of people and places out there who claim to have the Magic Chemical and are willing to fill your ears with what you want to hear to get a quick fix of happiness, success, financial gain, and a stress free life. But those will leave you feeling disappointed, empty, continually searching, and constantly frustrated because until you deal with the real issue and secure your foundation, those attempts will be temporary and ineffective.
4. Read and follow all of the directions, not just the ones that appeal to your immediate need. God gave us the instruction manual. It's the Bible. It's hard, it's scary, and it makes us uncomfortable at times. It hits me where it hurts and it requires me to change from within. It's difficult and it's painful and sometimes I don't like to do it. That's just the truth. But I don't read it because it makes me feel good. I read it because I need it.
5. Our pool gets a regular stream of visitors on a weekly basis. I love sitting outside, visiting with other moms while our kids play together, and weekend cookouts typically happen at our house during the summer so as to enjoy the cool refreshing fun of our pool and share it with others. But over the course of this algae problem I've been unable to invite anyone over. It's not that algae is particularly dangerous. Haven't we all swam in a lake or two in our time? So why didn't we continue to swim and invite others to join us? Partly out of embarrassment. Nobody wants to display their ugly green pool. But I can't imagine someone's reaction if we invited them to a cookout at our house and they walked into our backyard and saw the giant swamp while we pretend that it's perfectly healthy and beautiful. You can't hide algae and pretend that it isn't there even if you choose to ignore it. Sin has the same effect. It will cause us to withdraw from our source of strength out of embarrassment, shame, or even denial that it exists.
6. Through this entire process we loved our pool and never once wished we didn't have it. We knew this was a natural part of the risk of pool ownership and as frustrating as it was we knew we could get it turned around again. My friends didn't stop loving me because my pool had algae and they were there for me as I vented to them my frustrations at the length of time it took to clean it up. When I fail and find myself wallowing in my own sin, God never once regrets creating me or stops loving me. He surrounds me with family and friends who love me in spite of my sin and support me during my cleaning up process no matter how long it may take.
Thank you for bearing with me as I compared my life with Jesus to my swimming pool. I have no idea if I articulated it well or if it had any impact whatsoever, but I truly believe that God wanted me to type this post so there must have been a reason behind it. My prayer is that God took over my typing fingers and put what He wanted on the screen and left me completely out of it.
So with that in mind, please refer any negative comments to Him...... (Okay, that one was all me.)