Drowning

Suzanne Burnett
2 min readJul 19, 2023

“I want to try swimming without a life jacket.”

My 4-year-old daughter stood looking at me expectantly.

“Okay, we will move our chairs closer to the pool, and I need you to stay right on the steps while you try this out,” I responded. This child’s confidence in water had improved dramatically over the summer, but there had been very little life-jacket-free water time.

Minutes later, I watched carefully as she swam face down in the step area. Legs kicking, arms reaching out, her form was actually pretty good.

Wow, maybe she has improved more than I thought!

Then her hand hit the wall. Her feet found the step.

And she stood up gasping for air and sobbing all at the same time.

WHAT?!

From my seat, only a foot away, I could clearly see the girl was in a shallow, safe spot where she could touch and was totally swimming.

From her perspective, she was in deep water and was drowning with no help in sight.

Last night, our oldest daughter was teaching her cousins to ride ponies. One grumpy, aging pony was not following the commands his ten-year-old driver was giving.

Standing in the middle of the pen, the instructor said, “Walk your pony to me, please.”

The boy directed and kicked and turned and tried again. The pony just wasn’t listening. Knowing how stubborn that horse can be, I stepped forward to grab the halter and walk the pony through the command.

“No, Mom. Let him struggle for a minute.”

A little taken back, I retreated to the sideline and watched the boy beam as he successfully maneuvered the animal to the desired spot.

I know God loves us. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland has said that “..the first great truth of all eternity is that God loves us with all of His heart, might, mind, and strength.”

At times it may feel that we’re drowning in life’s challenges with no help in sight.

But God is watching and can see that we’re actually safely learning to swim.

We may feel that the desirable commandment and goal is RIGHT THERE, but no matter how we grapple with the problem, we’re not getting any closer to achieving it.

But then we do, and the effort and experience was worth it.

As Henry B. Eyring’s mother once told her struggling son, “….of course it’s hard. It’s supposed to be. Life is a test.”

Remember the promise that when we “contend earnestly” in areas of eternal significance, “when [we] fall, [we] shall rise again, for [our] sacrifice shall be more sacred unto me than [our] increase”. (Doctrine and Covenants 117:13)

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Suzanne Burnett

Mother of twelve children and member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints shares spiritual insights learned through parenting and marriage.