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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Beach Balls

by Colleen Swindoll Thompson

Swimming is necessary in the more than 100-degree heat of a Texas summer. My son Jon and I headed to the pool the other day. Jon gave me a dollar-store squirt gun for his idea of a fair combat weapon; of course, his was the Target store, Navy SEALs, house-sized weapon that can shoot water to the moon.

Beach ballsAn hour into playing, I noticed a beach ball that had blown next to the pool’s fence. Because he had thoroughly demolished my meager attempts of water war, playing with a light, floating toy drew me in.

After a few games of catch, we tried what most attempt to do with an air-filled beach ball . . . hold it under water. It was exhausting! We even teamed up trying to get the sucker to stay under—all to no avail.

Beach Balls Won’t Stay Under

On most days, the setting sun usually brings me to some reflective time . . . especially if there has been significant time with one of my kids. That night, it was the pool, water weapons of mom’s destruction, and that blasted beach-ball game. Despite it being the lightest toy, holding it under the water was the most exhausting game we played. Late into the night, I did some reading online and found this.

Have you ever tried holding a small beach ball under water? It’s not too difficult at first . . . but the longer you try to hold it down, the harder it becomes. At some point, the upward force (buoyant force) wins and the beach ball surfaces. Back in 200 BC, Archimedes, the brilliant Greek scientist, discovered the deeper you hold a buoyant object underwater, the higher it shoots above the surface once it’s released. Buoyancy = weight of displaced fluid. Archimedes’ principle seems to apply to truth as well. Try as you may to keep it hidden, eventually it surfaces. . . . 

Once something surfaces, it’s difficult to submerge it and pretend it’s not real. . . . Sometimes, the answer is just below the surface, just waiting for us to let it emerge. Other times it’s deep . . . and it takes some work. Whether it’s beach balls [or] truth . . . what Archimedes discovered thousands of years ago still applies today . . . the deeper the buoyant object, the higher it will fly above the surface once it’s released.¹

The Truth Won’t Stay Under

Between you and me, we try to keep lots of things under wraps. We try to keep our hurts at bay, pushing down the stuff that seems too tough to work through or covering the truths about our souls that we are too ashamed to admit. All the while, the pressure builds and we make one of two decisions. Either we choose to live in bondage, using every ounce of energy to force down the worry, despair, shame, fear, or denial. Or we choose to allow our displaced grief to surface, so we might deal with it bit by bit.

Sometimes grief is simple to let go of . . . like opening a faucet of tears and letting them flow. Other times—like mine with loving a child who will never fit in this world—grief bubbles up at birthdays, weddings, trying on clothes, going to the mall, wherever, and whatever. My grief doesn’t always come to the surface all at once.

I don’t know the size and shape of your “beach ball,” but I’m pretty sure you have one. Maybe it’s your marriage that you didn’t anticipate being quite so tough, or your wayward kid, or your ill spouse, or your paralyzed body . . . the list goes on. Whatever its size and shape, it’s got to be grieved—it mustn’t be held down.

Release comes when you ask Jesus to sit with you and help you stop holding grief below the surface. He will help you release your sorrow.

Moreover, once it’s released, you are more able to play and laugh and enjoy life as you never imagined you could.


1. Michael McMillan, “Beach Balls, Truth and Innovation,”, accessed July 5, 2012. Used by permission.


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So related to this. I am glad that you said it is a reocurring event. Sometimes I think I should already be over it and have delt with the emotion only to have it hit me full force again. It ebbs and flows in my heart life. Thank you again Colleen for speaking to my heart. Thanks for a place to go in a superficial world that can speak to my heart.

LA, you are welcome...the Lord did the talking, just used some words I put out there because I've learned life is going to be grievous along the way. In today's culture, we run from the concept yet the ebb and flow of it is actually part of the transforming life process. Missing it means we miss being shaped more and more into the image of Christ. I so appreciate your words and admire your drive to keep your heart open to God's ways of forming your character. May you be blessed by Him today. Colleen
P.S. You may find our Special Needs Facebook page a wonderful resource of hope and encouragement. Its lots of every day sharing with very real comments and questions. We're a great support team. Thanks again for your kind words. Colleen

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