The docufilm ‘Kim Swims’ (Netflix) stirs & inspires me; the story of marathon open water swimmer Kimberley Chambers becoming the first woman to swim 30 miles from the Farallon Islands to the Golden Gate Bridge through cold, rough & shark-populated waters off San Francisco, one of only a few people to complete the ‘Ocean’s seven biggest swimming challenges’. This includes swimming from Ireland to Scotland, where she was almost stung (jellyfish) & frozen to death. She is one gritty Kiwi!
And yet, due to falling down stairs, Kim came close to having a leg amputated. Swimming helped build up her physical strength & became the ‘metaphor through which she processes her whole life’. What struck me is her deeply felt gratitude for the gift of open
water swimming, which she says she’s ‘worked really hard for’.
I don’t know to whom or what Kim is grateful for her life, but this comment got me thinking about the importance of both Grace & Grit in maturing us. The unconditional givenness of God’s Love (nothing we can do to make God love us more or less) can inspire gratitude & determination to think, say & do all we can to prove God’s Love for us & the world around me, but it can also be received as ‘cheap grace’ and produce a static life of ingratitude, receiving without giving back, that rests on laurels & past achievements rather than press on to realise full potential & give all we’ve got to God.
I think the critical ingredient, which Kim has loads of, is ‘Grit’ (tenacity, fortitude, courage, bravery, ‘balls’), grown at great cost to herself in suffering endured & processed, & her training to be the world-renowned athlete & generous person she is now. The Bible letter of ‘James’ offers a diagnosis & prognosis of the spiritual disease of ‘complacency’, which
we’re all in danger of. Over the last few years we’ve been able to achieve some wonderful outcomes, not least a burgeoning Fullarton ConneXions & growing faith community, and much more is promised, but not without grit, determination & hard work.
Having people involved in ConneXions & Church who’ve experienced & overcome much suffering infects us with an attitude of gratitude. Prayerful people, determined to put in the hours of training to follow Jesus, encourages others to join in. We’re learning the ‘unforced rhythms of God’s Grace’ by which we gratefully receive what we wrestle, intercede & work hard for, as ‘Gift’, rather than the result of ‘Grind’. Burdens sit easy on our shoulders because God carries them with & for us.
Here’s how St Paul coaches us in such Grace, Gratitude & Grit:
Romans 5:3-5 (NIV) – “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance (passionate patience – MSG), character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
I’ve just visited Kim Swim’s Facebook page & found this inspiring post from a year ago:
“…for the second time in my adult life, I lost the ability to walk. Coincidentally, this was also my 3rd near-death experience … Diagnosed with a rare neurological syndrome called Guillain Barré, this has been a terrifyingly surreal journey; inexplicably forced to revisit an all-too familiar and painfully exhausting task of learning to walk again, I am once again fighting a battle with my body. However, despite all of this, I am experiencing the most life-affirming 13 days ever. I am learning (once again) that the greatest gifts in life aren’t the ones presented to us in times of joy, wrapped exquisitely with a ribbon bow. Rather, the best gifts in life are the treasures nestled in the heart that shine bright through the darkness of the worst of times. 💪🏻🙏🏻💕”