When you are quietly drowning

June 25, 2014

Image via Sara Lando via Flickr
For those of you living in states filled to the absolute brim with water - with forecasts of more rain than we could possible want or need in this soggy, flooded summer - you've probably seen the article circulating on Facebook about how children drown.

It isn't like the movies - no flailing arms, no loud screaming, no thrashing about.  Instead, it is insidiously quiet. Drowning is a silent struggle, without wild movements to draw attention and ends with the victim simply, finally slipping under the water. 

These last months, I've been drowning. It's the quiet kind of drowning, with no one, all-consuming crisis that calls attention to my struggle. It's been characterized by increased flakiness - last minute cancellations, not responding to invitations until receiving a gentle prompt from the hostess, from simply dropping out of communication, out of groups, out of my social circles.
I hate exposing my vulnerabilities, especially when I don't yet have a perfect ending with which to encourage others.  So then, why this confession as I find myself still in this spot - feeling like the water might quietly close over me as I eventually slip under?  

Because I'm not the only one. 

I've stumbled across several beautiful, smart, creative, adventurous women who are quietly drowning. They needn't speak it aloud; I recognize my own internal chaos in the look of their eyes, in their stories of communication mix-ups, in their confessed seeming inability to "get their act" together.

Because I am currently walking through it, I am sensitive to recognizing the same crisis unfolding in the lives of those around me.  

Of course, the pat, easy answer to this particular form of drowning is to "simplify."  But no one wants you to "simplify" your way out of their thing, and it often takes time to extricate yourself from big commitments.  And, honestly, some things simply cannot be "simplified," they must be walked through, lived through -- survived. 

So. If you find yourself drowning, if you recognize yourself in my words, then know this: you are loved.  LOVED. You are loved by the One who counts the stars, the grains of sand, and the hairs on your head. There is no pre-requisite of Pinterest-worthy perfection before Jesus meets you; he has already closed the gap. There is nothing you can do to change his love for you: just as you cannot diminish his love for you, you also cannot earn more of his love.

There is nothing left for you to do except stop, breathe, and revel in that realization.

To this girl desperately treading water in the deep end of the pool, the realization that my never ending to-do list is utterly irrelevant to my Savior's decision to lay down his life those two odd thousand years ago is a gulp of pure, sweet, fresh air.  It is my lifeline, my lifeboat, my saving grace. 

Take heart and keep swimming, friends. And, as we move together toward that magical, elusive goal of "simplification," remember who counts the number of hairs on your head.

I'm linking up with my friends at Holley Gerth's place today with Coffee for your Heart. Won't you join me?


  1. Hi Julie,
    Even though it's hard to walk through the difficult times in our lives, I think it's amazing how God draws our hearts to others in similar circumstances so we can walk alongside them with understanding and love. Beautiful!

  2. I'm laying face down in the water with you, Julie. These little "air bubbles" of JOY, like your post today, and the baby birds in the nest on my momma's porch, are how He sustains us - until we are able to stand up and walk on the water again. I pray you are finding JOY today, too. Blessings on your week.

    1. Thanks, June! It is exactly those little things you mentioned that help us recognize the nearness of God, even when life feels overwhelming in the moment.

  3. I totally understand this! A couple years ago I was quietly drowning it seemed, there wasn't one thing I could point to, but many little things that were just too much for me to handle. I finally had enough and really did cut back on everything, right to the bare bones. If it didn't directly involve me feeding and clothing my children (ie dishes/cooking/laundry) I wasn't going to do it. I am slowly adding stuff back in now, but I have to say, stripping away all the external pressures was such a huge help. Should you be a recluse? Absolutely not, but it is surprising to see how easy it is to start saying no to certain "requirements." After I cut all the external, I was finally able to focus on what was important, my relationship with God and my family, taking the time to really bask in that relationship, and cling to Him.

  4. So good - thank you so much for being vulnerable! I suspect a lot of women can find themselves in this post!

  5. Been there done that. Sometimes it seems like it will never end, but thank Jesus it does. There is always hope, whether we see a light at the end of the tunnel or not.

  6. I'm visiting you from Holley's. Your title drew me in. Thank you for the encouragement today, Julie. This is such a sweet comfort - "My Savior's decision to lay down his life those two odd thousand years ago is a gulp of pure, sweet, fresh air. It is my lifeline, my lifeboat, my saving grace."


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