This past summer my husband and I went on what we called a “bucket list vacation”. We saved up for quite a while and decided in one trip to do a bunch of the things that were on our bucket lists. First, on Adam’s list was swimming with sharks. Second, on my list, was Harry Potter World in Orlando. And last up was a joint item, cuddling sloths!
Needless to say, I was beyond thrilled about Harry Potter World (I might have cried upon entering…and on and off for the entire day), and the sloths weren’t exactly intimidating (although the one I held did actually bite me, and yes, it was in slow motion). However, the idea of swimming with the sharks was terrifying and not in any small way. I would not exactly describe myself as a daredevil. I don’t like roller coasters, scary movies, or haunted houses. I am thirty-five years old and afraid of the dark. Adrenaline rushes are not my thing.
When I called the shark diving agency I had planned on just booking my husband for the cage while I stayed on the boat. However, the lady explained that it was a two person cage, so there would be someone else in said cage with my husband. My exact response was, “So, you mean some skinny mini in a bikini could be in a little cage with my husband?! Never mind, I’ll go too!” I guess my fear has it’s limits. I was, however, quite insistent on us cage diving, meaning we had the safety of the cage around us the entire time. They tried to talk me out of it, saying that we would have a better time if we were free diving, but I wasn’t having it.
Two months later, after doing mental math repetitively to check and double check that Aunt Flow wouldn’t be visiting while I was surrounded by sharks (I was pretty sure this was irrelevant, but I didn’t want to risk becoming chum), we got on the boat. The Captain explained that they had never once had a shark related injury, but cage related injuries were a different story. Evidently it was pretty easy to injure yourself getting in and out of the cage. With my graceful nature in mind and much to my husband’s surprise, I agreed that we would be fine without the cage. After all, I was only going to do this once, so I might as well go all in.
We got to the spot, which just looked like the middle of the ocean to me, but the Captain said it was the “right” spot. He went over the safety information, threw out the chum, the safety diver got in the water, and then we were free to jump in.
As soon as we were given the green light, my husband was the first one in. I, however, was the last one in, making sure that the sharks got used to the humans before I jumped in. As I was sitting on the edge of the boat, staring down into the crystal clear water at what seemed like a million sharks below, everything in me wanted to just stay on the boat. Honestly, I probably would have if I wasn’t worried about ruining the experience for Adam. But I was, so despite every instinct I had, I jumped in the water.
I’m not sure what I expected, but with over twenty Bull Sharks swimming with us, it was exhilarating and strangely peaceful at the same time. There were times that the sharks would seem to get a little too close for comfort, and I would fight to not pee a little (mainly because I didn’t know if it would attract them), but even those times were fun. The entire experience was enjoyable.
Surprisingly, despite my lack of desire to do this in the first place, I would do it again without hesitation. In fact, since this experience, I now want to go skydiving, white water rafting, and cage diving with Great Whites in South Africa (we will be staying in the cage for that one).
I realized that facing your fears can be empowering and awe-inspiring. We can learn things about ourselves that we never realized, like what we are truly capable of. We can see the power of God in our lives, empowering us to overcome our fears. God has truly created us as amazing creatures, and we can do amazing things if we just give ourselves the chance.
After all, living our lives in a cage can often times be more dangerous than the things we face outside of those cages. We tend to want to close ourselves off from all the possible bad things in the world, from every possible danger. However, the very protections we instill can be dangerous themselves. They can hinder us from experiencing the fullness of what God has for us. In life, same as with our shark diving experience, sometimes you have to take the risk to get out of the cage and overcome your fears in order to see everything God has for you.
If you want to see more about our experience, check out my husband’s Youtube video for footage from our swim. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rg5omATGysQ&t=1sFollow "By the Grace of God I am" on social media