Floating moves you farther ahead than flailing.

Flailing is seldom a graceful sight. Arms wildly flapping. Maybe a bit of shrieking. I’ve been there. Think person freaked by a tarantula or boa constrictor (yep, I’ve been surprised by both creatures in the wild). Or think someone like me learning to swim. God bless all the swim instructors out there who put up with us flailers. While we may initially flap and flounder, many us fail to give up.

I started swim lessons at our county swimming pool when I was around six years old. Dad said he learned to swim when the Merchant Marines tossed him overboard from a military ship in wartime training exercises. Mom wanted a more civilized introduction to the water for her children, so once a week in the summer we trekked 20 miles roundtrip to the pool.

The back float was one of the first technique the instructor taught our beginner class. An arch in the back with chest and stomach slightly lifted. Knees a little tucked. Arms and legs gently resting on the top of the water. Slow breaths.

I remember the instant I started to flail, Mrs. M placed her arms under my back for support and reassuringly held me there. I trusted her buoying strength and her knowledge of the water and survival skills. She would not let me drown nor would she let me flap around in a panic. With a few repetitive initial attempts, I was soon soloing on my own, confident I could stay afloat even in high seas.

When you’re drowning in the muck of tough times or overly stressed, it’s easy to start flailing in your attempt to rescue yourself. But if you pause and let yourself float, often you’ll find a life preserver or two (i.e. wise counsel, helping hand, prayer support, and more) that was right next to you all along.