Brenda’s Blog – September 24, 2019
“Drowning doesn’t always look like drowning.”
The lead line on Mario Vittone’s blog captured my attention. Drowning is second only to being buried alive on my “least desired accidental deaths” list. I found myself taking deep breaths as I read his post.
“When someone is drowning there is very little splashing, and no waving or calling out for help of any kind.” It is a quiet, unobtrusive, and frequently unnoticed demise.
The more I read the more I thought about burnout and emotional drowning. We expect it to look a certain way with flailing, cries for help, and reaching desperately for a lifeline. But in my experience it can be an almost silent going under.
First the person seems to shut down, unable to express a full range of emotions. Then, perhaps a withdrawal from normal activities. Some may focus distantly (drowning people often lie on their backs with eyes wide open, blankly staring before succumbing). Behavior may look unusual, yet explained away.
All the while, the deep waters are overtaking them.
There have been several times in my life when I experienced the dark waves. I didn’t jump up and down demanding help. I did become “pleasant and still.” I had no energy to surface. In drowning some have described the scene as assuming the person was treading water since their physiological and psychological attempts to “right the ship” take over. In the midst of sinking I looked vertical, even peaceful. But I was drowning… drowning in responsibility, hurts, burdens for others, and pain. I looked strong, capable, and in control… all the while awaiting last breaths. I was mentally and physically exhausted.
I thought about our community of faith. How can we tell if there are those around us who are drowning and we don’t even notice? What are the signs? How can we throw them a line? The blog’s author suggests a simple first step in assessing a drowning victim… ask them “are you alright?” If there is no answer time is short and immediate action is required.
“If you see something, say something” is a bit threadbare. It gets the point across, though. Let’s create a culture of care readying ourselves to see past the “I’m fine – I’m blessed” and rescue the perishing as the old hymn says. If the person has not come to faith in God through Jesus Christ, that is the ultimate answer, but in all situations, pray for wisdom to help. Perhaps it is only a word of understanding, or in more serious cases, a referral to professional help. Ever alert should be out byword.
We may not understand the nature of the water, but we do know the nature of the God who saves. Eyes open, hearts attune, and minds prepared may prevent loss.