• Kara Abernathy

Three Realizations from People Watching on a Summer Pool Day

It’s been over 90 degrees every day recently, so there isn’t much to do to escape the heat except to go to the pool or stay inside. Thankfully, I love a good pool day.

I bought a pool pass for the summer because #teacherlife.

I usually head to the pool with a book in hand, but on one of the days, I got sidetracked from reading with some people watching.

Public community pools are a great place to people watch – man oh man. There were these cute little twin girls in matching swimsuits with tulle skirts and hair-bows. It was adorable.

As I was watching them splash around, I started observing several behaviors from other kids. The more time I spent observing the interactions among kids, the more I was reminded of some attitude shifts I should have.


Remember when we were little gals splashing around and not caring AT ALL about how tan we were, how in shape we were, how our swimsuit looked, how our hair looked?

There were chubby toddlers, sporty elementary school students, and kids of all shapes and sizes. Self confidence wasn’t a struggle. They owned how they looked and didn’t pay attention to outward appearance.

They were too busy playing marco polo or sharks and minnows. They were jumping off of diving boards and sliding down slides. They were drying off in the sun and begging their parents for concession stand money.

Seeing these kids not overthink their appearance was refreshing. The more we focus on outer appearance, the more it drains our bank accounts, causes worry wrinkles, and leads us to judge others.

Is it wrong to care about your outer appearance? Not necessarily. God wants us to make healthy choices to take care of the bodies He has given us. However, there is a difference between care and obsession, and I think kids do a better job of maintaining a healthy perspective.

God calls us to focus on something that is far more important to our souls than our looks: Him.

The best part of this shift in perspective is that it leads to an inner beauty (that never fades!) worth far more than outer beauty (that always fades!).

“Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed” (Ps. 34:5).

People who focus on Christ are called radiant – shining, glowing, reflecting light. Yeah, I’d rather be radiant than be beauty obsessed.

“For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” (Rom. 8:6).


Kids just run up to each other and start talking. They instantly make friends. They don’t care if they sound silly or desperate or embarrass themselves. They are just looking for someone to swim with, and they are unabashedly themselves.

I watched as children approached each other without a second thought. Minutes later, they were challenging each other to a cannonball contest and having a blast.

Finding friends as adults is much more difficult than as kids. We need community; we are wired for it.

However, I think the reason it’s harder for adults to make friends is because we are too nervous to put ourselves out there. Plus, we’ve covered up our desire for friendships by maintaining a strict work schedule, looking down at our phones instead of at each other, and pretending that our calendars are too busy to help others.

Not only is the desire for friendships God-given, but having a community of people to hold you accountable and to share in each others’ burdens is God’s intention.

Check out how God calls us to treat others:

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2).

‘“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends’” (John 15:12-13).

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3-4).

We are called to not only acknowledge that we need others in our lives, but we are to order our lives so that others are of far greater importance.

We should share in friends’ concerns, offer help, set aside our own preferences, and give up time to encourage and support others.

What I love about children is that they never play it cool.

They don’t hide their longing for the company of others. Children are eager to befriend each other. I think as adults, we should return to our sense of childlike earnestness and strike up conversations with people. Instead of hiding behind a phone (myself included!), we should engage with those around us.


The pool I was at had three diving boards. There were two smaller diving boards and one high dive. The kids lined up to get their shot at jumping.

Some had real talents, flipping frontwards and backwards with great technique. Others thought they were better than they were, impressed with their ability to do a pencil jump and wanting all to watch.

No matter who the kid, all attempted some sort of jump at one point or another where their twisting bodies contorted with no clear view of how they would land. They just went for it!

It’s fascinating to see the strength of children who boldly go forth and do whatever they’ve set their little hearts and minds to do. They have persistence and imagination. They don’t let fear have the last say.

Somewhere along the way, adults lose their sense of childlike adventure. After we’ve realized that we have limitations, we start to listen to fear instead of maintaining a sense of courage. Something that children might not understand is that they will face obstacles and life isn’t always a quick jump to refreshing water. Some decisions are much more important. We can’t just rely on ourselves.

Still, even though we don’t have all the answers and we think we might have reason to worry, we don’t.

There is Someone who has told us not to fear. Over and over and over in the Bible, God calls us away from fear and toward Him.

Since there are SO many references to fear, I’ve just chosen my top three:

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Tim. 1:7).

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love” (1 John 4:18).

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

I’m comforted that even a bold biblical leader like Joshua needed this reminder about bravery and strength. Fear is never from God. He didn’t equip us to be afraid.

Who knew God would turn a day in the sun into some important reminders? I’m thankful that He uses all sorts of circumstances to teach us and affirm His teaching in the world.

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© 2019 Kara Abernathy

Disclaimer: my thoughts do not necessarily reflect the thoughts of my employer.