I am unable to float on my back. I’d like to put all the blame on the density of my muscles, but the truth is simply that I can’t relax. This bothers me for two reasons. First, I would like to be able to float on my back. I would like to enter the crystal clear blue waters of my favorite beach (Grand Anse in Grenada, West Indies)—I would like to enter that jewel of a body of water, walk to the deeper parts of aquamarine, lie back, float, and stare up at the comparatively clear sky.
There is another reason, however, that my inability to float in a supine position bothers me. I worry that it’s a physical metaphor for my faith and how weak it can sometimes be.
I can float on my stomach. It’s like only trusting in myself and what’s tangible. But when it comes to floating on water, prone is not a life-giving posture. I can’t stay that way for minutes, let alone forever. I need to be able to breathe. Floating while respiring (without a snorkel) requires being on my back. But that takes trust. That means looking at the sky, feeling the water tickle up my cheeks, and believing in my buoyancy.
Floating on my back is like faith. It’s a physical simile for how I approach my life and God. Can I stay relaxed enough to lie back into His omnipotence? Do I have enough faith to stay afloat? When the uncertain waters of life become overwhelming, can I release my fears so they don’t drown me? For it truly is mainly my fears that cause me to sink. It’s primarily my doubts that pull me down—whether in life or upon the ocean.
Mountains move in the face of faith as small as a mustard seed. However, most days my faith couldn’t keep a feather floating.
My faith’s fluctuations are not for lack of verification. There are many experiences in my life that have given my beliefs confirmation—the fact that I’m alive and able to walk, the life I was afforded well beyond what my parents or I should have been able to afford, the near misses, the providences, the disasters that produced blessings—my life is a litany of evidence for God.
So when my faith falters, it’s not because I don’t know better. Just as not being able to float on my back isn’t due to the absence of comprehension. I know what to do, I just can’t always manage the how and actually do it.
Like the ebb and flow of the ocean, my faith swells and retreats. It’s the reason I’m not panicked about the future. But it also means I sometimes don’t take chances I should because I don’t sufficiently believe.
My hope is that my faith will become ever more consistent—firmer and firmer until it’s too steadfast to fail. I want to float through life’s swells, lulls, and storms like a ship as certain of her captain as her sails.