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Michel: Remember most important part when swimming, loving

While other parts of the country welcome September’s promise of cooler weather, here in southern Louisiana it’s more heat and humidity.

The good news is that it extends the swimming season, a fact for which my granddaughters are grateful. They’ve been taught to never go near a pool without an adult and they don’t even complain when their parents require they wear ‘puddle jumpers’ that keep them afloat in the water.

When my children were young, they wore ‘water wings’ until they learned how to swim courtesy of their Paw Paw’s lessons. And every year about this time, I remember the summer when my daughter Victoria was only 5 years old.

Having taught her to swim the year before, her grandfather confidently sat on a lounge chair to watch her jump into the pool. She jumped in, but never surfaced.

Her cousin Tiffani, only 7 at the time, was able to grab her arm and pull her towards the ladder. Her grandfather dove in after her and made, in his words, a heroic rescue. (If you don’t believe me, just ask him about it and he will describe it in great detail.)

Once on the safety of the concrete deck, he asked Victoria, “Did you forget how to swim?”

“Well, Paw Paw,” she replied, “I just forgot one part.”

“Yes,” her oldest sister Monique said. “You remembered to bring your beach bag, your towel, your goggles and your sunscreen. You just forgot the main part, you forgot how to actually swim!”

Their conversation made me think about the many times that I ‘forgot the main part.’ It isn’t difficult to remember to go to church, to pray, to read the Word, to tithe, to participate in worship … to do all of the things expected of a Christian.

That’s all wonderful, but what about the most important part.

When Jesus was asked to name the greatest commandment, He replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37,38

I always think that I’m operating in love, until I read the checklist in 1 Corinthians 13 and am reminded that love is patient and kind. Love doesn’t envy, or boast; it isn’t proud, rude, self-seeking, or easily angered.  Love keeps no record of wrongs, doesn’t delight in evil, but rejoices with truth.  Love always protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres and never fails.

Victoria’s Paw Paw didn’t hesitate to jump in and save her when she was drowning. I pray that when I forget the greatest commandment, the commandment to love, that God will jump in, take me aside and again teach me how to love.

Ronny Michel may be reached at rmichel@rtconline.com.