We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.
We have a saying around here when we or our friends fall into a “me” hole: “Sweetheart, you’re drowning in Lake You!” We can’t recall where we heard it, but we like it. It’s such a terrifically queer thing to say. It gets the laugh and knocks the wind out of the whine. And as writers, my partner and I relish its powerful imagery. It altogether captures what’s really going on.
We don’t fall into Lake You—we dive in head first. Why? It scratches our itch for attention. It dramatizes our dilemma. Sometimes it actually indicates feelings of helplessness. Whatever drives us, we’re fully aware of it when we take the leap. As Romans says, it pleases us. But Lake You also distances us from people we look to for help. We increase the difficulty of our rescue when we plunge into the very fears and anxieties we want out of.
It’s essential to clarify the difference between drowning in self-indulgence and sinking in despair. We all know weak swimmers—earnest people without the stamina and wisdom to swim against the tide or avoid getting in over their heads. They don’t go under voluntarily. They’re tossed overboard by winds of rejection, physical and psychological violence, and religious hostility. Deadly currents suck them into whirlpools of peer pressure, self-gratification, and substance abuse. They’re miles from the self-contained Lake You—lost on the vast seas of life with its forces and predators, feeling tiny and isolated.
This should be expected according to the laws of nature. Only the strong survive. Even Jesus conceded such things happen. In Mark 14.7 He says, “The poor you will always have with you.” But He didn’t say, “Live with it.” In fact, He immediately added, “Help them.” This is what Paul tells the Romans. We strive for strength for ourselves, but also for weaker people in our lives—including those who endanger us by stirring up tempests of hatred and damnation.
Our success is gauged by how well we protect the safety and survival of others. Not all want to be saved, of course; the deep is full of self-righteous, disoriented people preferring spiritual suicide over admitting they’re lost at sea. We still open our arms to them, hoping they’ll reconsider the consequences. And what of those in true distress, calling for anyone to come to their aid? We have to reach them right away.
In either case, we can’t swim out to a single soul in real jeopardy if we’re the self-centered star of Drowning in Lake You.
Some would rather drown than look to us for safety. But many, many more are calling on us to come to their rescue.