Bear has a fear of water. He had a really traumatic experience when he was only a few months old. It had something to do with him believing he could walk on water (another story, another time). He was never the same after that, and I certainly couldn't blame him. We were thrilled to take him to the beach, but Ryan and I both felt a little uneasy about how he would react to the ocean. We wanted him to love it. We wanted it to break him of his fear. We were hoping that the gradual decline to the water would help him to have a different perspective than bathtubs, pools, or water hoses, which are basically all or nothing.
I apologize for forgetting to film horizontally the whole time, my bad.
The night we arrived, we took him down to the ocean and he whined a little, but we didn't make him go in so that was fine. Each day, Ryan worked with him a little at a time. He kept Bear on a leash, kept him close, and didn't force or drag him in any way. This seemed to work. It was amazing to me, to be able to see (and hear) Bear's fear, yet see him so excited to be with Ryan. Bear stayed right with Ryan, knowing that he was safe there.
Ryan continued working with him throughout the week. They would run in, and run out. Each time they might stay out in the water for a few seconds longer, but never going deeper than the top of Bear's back. The waves seemed to freak him out. The calmer the water, the easier. Whenever the waves would come in, he would go running back to shore, practically leaping over the water. It was a challenge for him. Yet, by the end of the week, we saw an amazing transformation. We decided to take him out to the water without the leash, slightly fearing that he would take off running in the opposite direction. But he didn't. He actually ran ahead of us. He still needed Ryan by his side to go out into the deep, and he still ran back to shore when the waves became too much. But he did it. He went out into the water.
It made me think about my own fears. The things I am afraid of can all be overcome, with persistence and a little bravery. The way Bear stayed with Ryan, I should stay with God. He is my protector and He loves me so much, He is always watching out for me. That doesn't mean He won't allow me to step out into the water and face my fears, in fact, I'm sure He can use that for His glory. By staying with Him, I can feel safer, and eventually learn to overcome my fears.
Allowing fear to hold us back may make us feel safer, but it does not make us happier, more satisfied, or more influential. We are safe when we walk out into the water with God. God is bigger than your biggest fear. Now, what are you afraid of?