The Sparkle is Not Looking Very Sparkly

I will come clean and admit it right here and right now … I have fallen out of love.  There, I said it, and it does not feel so bad.  The brilliance and the sparkle of that first season together is … well … gone.  It has been replaced with hazy, cloudy, questionable, even difficult, moments.  If I am telling the truth, this has been coming on for a few years now.  It was fading more and more with each passing year.  Everything became so one sided and nothing I did seemed to make much of a difference.  Last summer just about did us in and I was ready to throw in the towel; but, I stuck around and gave it one more shot.  I have truly given it my best effort and have tried so hard to make it work.  I ask myself, “How do you just walk away from something fourteen years in the making?”  After all that I have put into it, all the effort and hard work, it seems odd that my heart is not even broken, and that I feel a deep sense of relief that it is now out in the open.

Yes, it is true, I am seriously thinking of breaking up with our pool!  

Oh well, what were you expecting?  Sorry if your mind was going in another direction.  There has been such a love/hate relationship with the pool over the years and it has now, predominately, come down to, well, not hate, but seriously not love either!  It has become so difficult, and expensive, to keep it going.  Every time we turn around there is cash falling out of our pockets into the deep, murky depths; and I’m talking that the “murky” just will not go away this year!

During those first few months after my thirty-nine year old sister-in-law passed away from breast cancer, things just seemed unreal.  The summer passed in sort of a haze.  My brother was working long hours every day.  He lived about forty minutes away and made the decision to move closer to his family so we could help out with his five year old daughter.  She started kindergarten here that fall and we all began adjusting to a new normal.  Late winter and early spring found us planning a trip to the beach, where my niece discovered the joys of a swimming pool (thanks to a couple of new friends that helped her lose her fear of the water.) We had a hard time coaxing her out of that pool each day during that vacation.

When we got home, my brother decided to have a pool installed in his back yard, (which, conveniently, is right next door to our back yard!)  He picked out the pool and before long the team was there digging away, making room for the pool and mapping out the precise spot for their dream backyard fun spot.  It did not take them long to get it assembled and filled with water.  It was a large, above ground pool with a suntanning deck and a walkway all the way around the pool.  It was all white and blue and shiny and sparkly. It was not exactly love at first sight, but once the landscaping was completed, it was a pretty big crush!

Those first few years we wore that pool out.  We were in it so much.  We had lots of company and we always enjoyed splish-splashing around.  On the first time in the pool my, then six-year old, niece decided that she did not like the pool and she wanted it to be taken back.  Seems that she could not touch the bottom and all she could do was hang onto the side.  She wanted her dad to trade it for a pool that was not so deep, one that she could play in.  She did not believe us at the time, but eventually she figured out that he had made the right choice.

One of the other things about the backyard pool was that it was pretty easy to take care of in those early days.  We shocked it once a week, twice if we were in it a lot or if it rained more than normal, and we kept the chlorine level up.  We never had to do more than vacuum it once or twice a week, back wash it when necessary and just enjoy.  I am not sure what the difference is between then and now, but it is a constant struggle to keep it clean these days.  I really am so frustrated, and the past couple of years have wanted to take a bulldozer to it!  Of course, since the pool place told me they would be able to sell it should we ever decide to sell, that has stilled my destructive tendencies somewhat.

I have enjoyed the pool and my favorite thing to do is to exercise and just walk in the water.  The muck and mire that was this spring has made that undesirable.  The mess from this year started two years ago and the end of that summer.  Someone with a “lake” bathing suit had been in the pool.  Wow!  If you are wondering what that means, it is when someone that has been swimming in the lake gets in the pool in a bathing suit that has not been washed since it was in the lake, even a teeny-tiny bikini!  What an explosion of green, slimy insanity that developed almost over night.  We could never get it all cleared up that fall and just went ahead and closed it and hoped for better luck the next spring.  But last year when we opened the pool, that green mess was still there and had about a zillion babies!  I fought with it all summer last year.  I would get the water clear and think I’d seen the last of it only to turn around two times and there it was, back in full force.  I was ready to be done with the pool and for it to just go away.  I almost had my brother convinced to sell it this year.  Then in a moment of weakness, he said why don’t we try one more year, and I gave in.

It was crazy getting it started, but with a most excellent pool guy hanging around this year, as painful as it was, it still seemed to shape up pretty good…that is until this week.  We were getting company this weekend, to include three children, ages from five to twelve.  They were expecting to be entertained in the pool.  My niece and I had been in it the first of the week and I noticed a light coating on the sides.  I vacuumed all over, the bottom and sides and shocked it good.  When I went out to look at it yesterday, the film was still visibly there.  The water was almost clear, with just a little cloudiness, but not where I want it to be.  I want that crystal clear water from fourteen years ago!

We were able to enjoy it with the children this weekend.  But I don’t know if I have dedication toward the pool in me any longer.   I don’t know if I care enough to spend the time and effort that it takes to keep it going, especially since my pool time is somewhat limited these days.  Previously, I didn’t have to worry about folks worrying about me and fussing at me for being out around the pool.  Now, with my field vision loss, it is a mini battle when I start toward the pool to do anything, especially if I am by myself.  So I spend less and less time maintaining and making sure that everything is working as it should be.  Then I wonder “why” the water keeps getting more and more cloudy and difficult to maintain.

Doesn’t that sound familiar a lot of times in how we treat our relationship with Christ?  And truly, truly the importance there is about the relationship.  How the relationship goes, so goes the state of our walk with Him.  It is not about adhering to a bunch of man-made rules and regulations that hinder God’s Spirit working in our lives.  Do you remember the inception of that relationship?  How did you feel when you first asked Christ to be a part of your life?  Did you want to spend lots of time with Him, working on strengthening that relationship and learning all about Him and about the wisdom He shares from within His Father’s Word?  Oh yes, when we are first in that place, we see the sparkly,  brilliance that is the light of God glinting up through the murky, cloudy waters of life.  In those early years we are willing to put in the work and the effort to see that relationship grow, to make sure that we do our part, to strengthen it so that others can see that we have somethingsomething that they want to explore a little closer.

But what happens when we have been walking this road with Christ for so long that we are just plain tired? We start to cut corners.  What happens when we spend less and less time seeking, nurturing, maintaining, working on that relationship and making sure that everything is as it should be?  What happens when we get to the point that we just want to give up, call it quits, let all the things we have worked for go by the wayside?  If you have been walking with Christ for any length of time, you have most likely faced disheartening and discouraging times, times when you can’t see the bottom of the pool, you can’t see through the cloudy, murky water.  The thing about our relationship with Christ is that we cannot ignore it.  We cannot hope that leaving it be for a while will fix it.  The thing to remember, when we are paddling around in those hazy waters that (most likely) are of our own making, all we need to do is call on the ultimate Keeper of the Pool and tell Him that we need Him to come and clean it all up again and get it sparkling like new.

Even though, I have absolutely no plans to break up with my Heavenly Father, there are times when I can use a fresh dip in that Holy Water to get me all clean and shiny and sparkly!  He will clean you all up and refresh you like new, you know.  All He is waiting on is for you to ask!  Come on.  Let’s all get cleaned up and dive back into that Water of Life!

~~~

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”  (Hebrews 10:22 NIV)

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