Oct 11, 2016

[callout]REMINDER: Only 5 DAYS LEFT to apply for my 2017 Inspired Life Mastermind! My team is neck-deep in the planning of our coaching content and face-to-face gatherings, and I’d love for YOU to be a part. But here’s the deal: The application link closes on October 15th, midnight. Need more information? Ready to apply? You can find everything you need here. Can’t wait to do more life with you! ~Michele [/callout]

Some problems can’t be tackled by trying harder, but by trying less.

I thought three grade-schoolers who loved to swim would know how to float. They’re fish, I tell you. Whenever a body of water is within reach—a lake, a swimming pool, a bathtub—they’re ripping off clothes and cannonballing in.

For a week they’d been swimming in Mimi’s pool. By 10 a.m. each day, they’d donned suits and sunscreen and dove into the deep end of the pool. At some point, they decided to give floating a try.

Look, Mommy! I’m going to float!

Piece of cake, I thought. No problem. Anyone can float.

Only they couldn’t. Not even close. They tried, I promise you they tried. But floating was the furthest thing from what actually happened. Instead, they sank. Like rocks. To the bottom of the pool.

So I climbed into the water to demonstrate.

“Lean back, like this.”

I allowed my body to fall backwards, to rest on the surface of the water. I inhaled, exhaled, closed my eyes and felt the weight of the water pushing against the backs of my legs, my waist, my shoulders, my head.

A glorious slice of heaven in the center of Mimi’s swimming pool.

The sun warmed my face as the water buffered my ears, blocking out the sounds of life. My heart settled, my mind calmed … and I nearly forgot the children watching and waiting for me to resurface.

I popped back up.

“See?” I shrugged. “It’s easy. All you have to do is float.”

With bobbing heads and smiles all around, they leaned back into the water, determined to follow my lead.

Instead they sank. Hard and fast.

I tried again.

“Relax,” I told them. I must’ve said that word a dozen times. “Just relax. Let the water do its job. Lay back like you’re laying on your bed.”

Again smiling faces and nodding heads. Certainly they understood.

They leaned back.

They sank.

This time, however, I watched. A doctor determined to diagnose. And this is what I saw:

Every muscle was clenched. Every limb taut and straight. There was no resting or relaxing or weightlessness. Instead, these children of mine exerted tremendous effort to force the float, to take control and make it happen.

As a result, floating alluded them.

I spent a solid hour that day trying to teach my kids to float. I used every trick, showed them countless times what to do—or not do, as it were. In spite of my best efforts, floating never happened. It took me a while, but I finally figured out why:

They didn’t trust the water. They only trusted themselves.

But floating isn’t a product of human effort; it’s the result of the water’s strength.

And that’s when a lesson in the pool became a hardcore lesson for my heart.

I don’t know how to float either. In the pool? Yes. In life? No. I know how to work hard, get things done, fix problems and arm-wrestle solutions. I know how to be in control, take charge and make things happen.

But to lean full back and trust God’s sovereignty to hold?

Not so much.

Sure, I believe the water is strong. I talk about it, play in it, enjoy it even. But too many times I don’t trust it enough to lean back, relinquish control, and let it carry me.

Instead, I smile, nod and then clench every muscle in my body trying to be my own savior.

As a result, I start to sink.

For example, I woke up this morning at 4:00 am. I should’ve gone back to sleep for another hour. Instead, I started mulling about a couple unresolved and uncomfortable situations. I turned them around in my head, imagining all the what-ifs and if-onlys:

What if I make the wrong choice, do the wrong thing? 
What about that upcoming appointment? What if it doesn’t go well?
I’m so unqualified. What am I doing?

By 4:45 am, it was clear sleep wasn’t going to happen. Then I remembered the pool. My sinking children. And me.

Relax, Michele. Let God lead. His strength will not fail.  

This is the terrifying glory of the Sovereignty of God. When faith becomes less a outward demonstration and more a inner disposition. When everything in you wants to rely on your own strength and faith requires you to rely on His. Faith is believing He is stronger than your greatest strength, more wise that your greatest wisdom. And that no amount of human effort will outmatch the strength of a trustworthy God.

Whatever it is that has you fighting sleep at four o’clock in the morning, it does not require more of your work and worry and wrestling. But it does require more of your faith. The real kind. The kind that knows how to float.

It won’t be easy, you know. This oft-hard life is a vast expanse of water that threatens to make you drown.

I know, I know. Bad things do sometimes happen.

But the sovereignty of God can be trusted. His love will not give way, give out, or give up.

Relax. Lean back. All you need to do is float.

[Image Copyright: pressmaster / 123RF Stock Photo]


  1. Jerolyn

    Oh wow! I so needed this right this minute. As I write Alexander is driving John to DIA. Although we hope to join him there one day, in the meantime the grieving process is real. He is following his dream and I can only trust that God will continue to carry our His purposes for Alexander even in Colorado!

    • Michele Cushatt

      I think letting go of our children might be the hardest letting-go of all. <3

  2. Janetta

    I’m a swimmer and never thought about not being able to float. How did I learn to relax? To let go and lay back? As I tell people, I don’t remember not going to church or not being able to swim. I’ve always known how to float in the pool, but life??? I need help in letting go too. Thank you for your wonderful analogy.

  3. Lily

    THIS. I cannot float in the pool, for sure. Water scares me. My husband signed me up for scuba diving lessons when we were newlyweds to help me with “my fear”… As it turned out at that time, I couldn’t go UNDER… The irony. And this year I’ve said “I’m just treading water” more times than I care to count, so I completely get your metaphor. Unemployment, job transitions, health issues… even a stray cat that delivered six kittens in my yard… All these keep me up at 3 AM. Thank for reminding me to float in the sovereignty of God.

    • Michele Cushatt

      You’ve had to weather more than most as of late, Lily. And yet you continue to exude joy and trust, even when I know you don’t always feel it. May our God give you an extra dose of confidence and assurance in His presence and provision.

  4. Michele Giletto

    You are such a blessing. This lesson is such a blessing. How you speak to this woman’s ever-growing, striving, weary heart. Oh, how we know in our souls that surrender and floating is the answer. Oh, how we strive. I love you dearly Michele, and thank you for this sweet lesson. XO

    • Michele Cushatt

      “Oh, how we strive.” YES. I want to learn how to kneel more, strive less. Jesus, in mercy, make it so.

  5. Alice Arment

    WOW! Surely you must have been a “fly on the wall” in our home last night and this morning! I so needed to read and hear these words this morning! I believe their God appointed words of a love note from Him straight to my heart. I never knew raising teenagers, let alone ones with so much woundedness, in this season of us, would prove to be so overwhelmingly difficult. How your words move me back into proper perspective of what we’ve been called to do. How in the world did you do this with 3 littles not to mention 3 grown and growing boys>>>
    Michele I am so grateful that you share your heart thoughts again and again, and they always seem to be aimed for a landing in/for my weary heart and spirit. So so blessed by you, your heart! Grateful to call you friend and sister! Love you much

    • Michele Cushatt

      I’m still learning this, and failing more often than not. It’s just plain HARD some days. With you, Alice.

  6. Jason Brennan

    Great analogy and wisdom here! While it may be evident for others to see, faith that is less focused on it’s outward appearance and more focused on true steadfastness of the heart through Christ is the life giving, life sustaining kind!

  7. beth

    Michele I am living this right now. I feel like God is calling me into waters so much deeper than I am comfortable with. Thank you so much for sharing this. I cannot tell you every time I read your blog I feel like you’re in my brain.


  8. Heather


    This is a beautiful reminder! I’ve found it is so much easier to trust God with the BIG things that are obviously outside of my control, but it’s the little things I have the hardest time with. Thank you so much for your insights!

  9. Ellen Cole

    Wow Michele! What a powerful picture you’ve painted with this analogy. Most of us have experienced that very thing, when learning to float. Until we resist the urge to control our bodies in the water, floating cannot be accomplished. I will forevermore associate my relationship with the Lord with floating. Thank you!

  10. Linda Lochridge Hoenigsberg

    Michele. I am such a control freak. I didn’t really realize it until one morning I was standing on a corner in a small town with about 7 others, waiting for the “Walk” sign to light up green. Seven people looked both ways and stormed across the street, oblivious of the sign. I stood there, rooted to my post, refusing to disobey the dozen red lightbulbs. “It’s for the common good, people!” I thought. After decades of an out of control life, I was attempting to bring it all into order. My way. No traffic tickets. No late library books. No crossing on the red. But God wants me to lean back into the pool too…and just relax, and let him hold me up. It’s a lesson I have to learn over and over, and in the small moments I get there, I am at peace.

  11. Jeannie S

    So strange you posted this on 10/11 and it just showed up in my inbox at 6:05 this morning. Such a great analogy. When will I realize I’m not God and just let myself be the sheep following the Shepherd? Thank you for this.

  12. TJ Foster

    Michele, this is spot on and what I so needed to read today (thank you!). I still have the red swollen eyes from a cry-fest that I just had with my daughter. Believe it or not, the topic of our argument was TRUST. After a lengthy discussion at the kitchen table this afternoon (about me being overprotective), I had to confess to her that the sin I struggle with most is in not trusting God. It hurt to say that out loud and I could tell that she was shocked to hear it. I know in my heart of hearts that God is big enough and strong enough to hold her in His capable hands. However, in a world where bad things do happen, I find that I try to be her savior by calculating and planing for every worst-case-scenario. Trying to be God is exhausting. How I long for the day when I can lay EVERY fear and anxious thought at His feet and walk away in perfect peace while confidently saying, “Forever will I trust Him!”

  13. Tiffany

    As always, you spoke the words my heart needed to hear this morning. I sure do tend to spend a lot of time forcing the float.
    Have a beautiful Sunday sweet Michele.❤️

  14. Maree Dee

    That was just what I needed this morning. I am a new blogger. I spent all day yesterday struggling with what to write. I had blocked the time and yet nothing was coming to mind. I realized I wasn’t floating and allowing God to lead. I was trying to write in my own effort and it wasn’t working. Most of my week has been like that. God built me strong but it was when he took me to a place that I could only rely on him that I understood what it was like to rely on this strength and not my own. I have never been able to float. I can’t wait to give it a try again.

  15. Devon WoDColins

    Great lesson! Nothing in life can be controlled by only you, the outside factors always affect the outcome of your every move. You cant control it by forcing your will but you can keep your self Afloat by accepting and realizing that you alone can’t determine the outcome of your life. It also helps to have a clear mind to Overcome Setbacks and Head Trashes that pull you down while your try to Float & Fast-Track Your Life!


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