Are You A Shark or a Water Lily?

A friend sent me a photo of water lilies that she captured with her cell phone in the park near my home.  The dainty flower reminds me of a story I wrote a while back about a select group of strong, naughty church women and their interaction with a pacifist.  Today’s repost with minimal changes carries a lesson for all types of personalities.  

I’m a water lily, but I’ve learned how to swim with the sharks.

Water lilies don’t move much.  They like the still, quiet water, like a pond, and they just sit there looking peaceful.  Their real strength is underneath, below the surface.  Their root system under the flower attaches itself to the soil beneath, sometimes as deep as six feet.  

Sharks, on the other hand, are good swimmers.  They keep moving to breathe and stay afloat.  They have sharp teeth and they’re sensitive to motion and attracted to blood.  They appear out of nowhere and circle their prey!

I yearned to be on the board of my church’s Women’s Ministries.  The large church offered a variety of activities for all women of all ages.  They planned spring teas, prayer meetings, fall retreats, Bible Studies, support groups and mom’s meetings in the park.

Finally, the letter arrived in the mail and the invitation to serve with the women offered me work to do in an area I love—communication!   

Summer arrived and the board’s agenda, planning the fall retreat, meant for us to pile into a large van and head to the mountains to scope out resorts for the event.  We agreed on the location and got busy choosing a theme.  We spent a few evenings together praying and brainstorming. 

I completed a rough copy of the retreat flyer I designed to show the board.  I proudly placed my doozy of a draft in front of our president with copies for all the board members.

Then it happened!  
She took out her red marker scratching out all my superb verbiage, changing my font, scribbling in the margins and basically asking me to start all over and recreate my masterpiece in her image.  Everyone agreed with her!  

On to the next order of business….

I got a surprise when I opened my email the following morning.  Mrs. President sent me a letter of apology with copies to all the gals on the board.  She couldn’t sleep the night before because she tore into my draft flyer like a shark chewing its prey.

I’ll admit sometimes things offend me, but as one who writes, I expect to redo it and redo it until everybody approved my copy.  However, I wasn’t going to tell her that.

God was dealing with these bullies and it was an opportunity for me to have some fun.  I replied: 

Thank you, Madam President, for your apology. I humbly accept it though it is not necessary.  I am happy to make the changes and take no offense.   It’s a privilege to serve with accomplished women.  I perceive that you see me as delicate; perhaps a water lily, but I assure you ladies I am not shatter-able and I can swim with the sharks!

The board members flooded me with fun email replies.  I smiled ear to ear after I read their hilarious comments to my response. 

I knew I passed the initiation test because I received long, loving hugs from each lady shark at church the following Sunday morning.  Our relationships, always good, reached a higher level.

And for the rest of you:  Don’t be so quick to judge a delicate water lily.  We’ve got a strong support system underneath where you can’t see.  

Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
Matthew 5:9


  1. I remember this, Mary! Still, I'm unsettled how the rest of the board all sided w/ Madam President. 'Wonder if that was truly their own convictions - or mob mentality.

    So impressed that you chose to take the high road! Pretty sure I wouldn't have been so strong to do the same.
    Have a blessed new week!

  2. "Mrs. President sent me a letter of apology with copies to all the gals on the board. She couldn’t sleep the night before because she tore into my draft flyer like a shark chewing its prey."

    Relieved she did this. And amazed.

    Your response blew me away. I expected to read you shyly smiled or quietly left, but you roared! Good for you. However, they have likely chased away many small fish with their sharkiness. A shame, their shame.

  3. I like your reply. Kudos to you! However, think again if you really wish to "swim with sharks" even though you can do that. Your peace of mind is more important than everything else.

  4. I am also feeiing the same way sometimes. Like, as a Christian, as much as we can be kind to people, well do it even if we know that we are offended. I just learned that God deals with the bullies! hahaha, i can really understand how you felt there, good thing that she thought of it and apologized. :)

  5. I would say I'm a lily too, and I'm afraid I wouldn't have roared as you did. I love your answer and how it really did answer the way they responded, but with a great attitude!

  6. Oh, wow, I just love this! Love the thought of the water lily's strength under the surface! Thank you for sharing, sweet friend. :)

  7. I would have written a response to her that would have been seething and full of what I thought of her and the committee and then I would have deleted it and write something similar to you. I'm a water lily too; its good to know we have great support systems :)


  8. As they say, still water runs deep! As an introvert, I can relate to the waterlily. We may not make a big splash but we are well-rooted. Thanks for sharing this, Mary. I wasn't following you when you first published it! :)

  9. I am giving you a standing ovation for that reply. Sass, girl. Wow!

  10. The water lily in me loves this post.😀

  11. I remember reading this . I loved it . Oh yes , water lilies are actually stronger than they appear to be .😊 Hugs and blessings to you dear Mary . Cindy

  12. This is great Mary! I love your acceptance of those who are sharks -- that they also have a place though they are not like us water lilies! :)

  13. That is awesome! I remember this one! And I love that verse. It was at the very beginning of the manuscript you edited for me... (good thing I can swim with the sharks too!)

    This time when I read it, it reminded me of something my dad used to say, "Don't mistake my kindness for weakness".

    That's a good memory and reminder. Thanks of that, Mary!

  14. Not sure where my first comment went, probably swimming with some sharks....great post, great wisdom..


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