Lessons From The Ocean of Life


Our experience with the ocean is beautiful and breathtaking. Who hasn’t reveled in a brilliant sunrise or peaceful sunset over vast ocean waters? Which of us wouldn’t brag, just a little, over a dolphin sighting? And who can pass up the temptation to snap a photo of a pastel-colored sky while listening to the rushing shore’s rhythmic sounds?

It would be a great shame to give up all the treasures of a beach day because of fear of what “could” go wrong. And that’s precisely why I’m passionate about teaching ocean safety.

In my efforts to learn how to keep my loved ones and me protected WHILE enjoying the ocean, I realized that it starts with RESPECT. And as I dug deeper into how I should respect the sea, I recognized many interesting parallels between what happens when we apply the same respect to LIFE.

But let’s take a couple of steps back so I can share the riveting story that started my journey.

The Story Behind SOAR


kids in the ocean

SOAR is an acronym that I created to easily remember the practical steps I uncovered after a near-tragedy my family experienced.

Every year we head to the shores of North Carolina, along with extended family members, to enjoy a memory-making vacation. As a Mom, I’m always scanning the ocean and counting heads.

On one particular day, I looked up to see that my son, Ben, my nephew, Michael, and a friend of ours had gotten so far out into the ocean, that it was difficult to see them. The sea had gone from calm to turbulent in a matter of minutes. And I quickly felt an inner panic as I ran into the rough waters, praying to get everyone to safety.

I’ve been a competitive swimmer all my life, but I quickly realized that this was the type of scenario where strong swimmers drown. Fighting against the angry waves was wearing me out, and I began to feel like it was a losing battle.

Thankfully after what seemed like forever, I reached the kids.

But feelings of relief would have to wait as we turned back toward shore and desperately struggled against a strong rip current. Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I recalled a strategy to get out of a rip current but instead of stopping and thinking it through, I continued to fight against it, battling for all four of us.

As you might have expected, we all made it out of the ocean that day. But the details and emotions will NOT be soon forgotten.

Getting back to my acronym, SOAR, the letter “S” stands for—STOP. And as I implied earlier, this reminder is as helpful when facing challenges on the beach as getting through difficulties in life.

On the beach: I had to STOP what I was doing to recognize that my kids were in trouble.

In life: We need to STOP what we’re doing—put down the phone, turn off the TV, get rid of the extra noise, and distractions—so that we can focus on what’s right before us.

On the beach: As I saw my family facing a threatening situation, I had to STOP the panic and fear and focus on how to get my kids back on solid ground.

In life: Even though you may be tempted to run in the other direction when a challenging circumstance makes itself known, it’s crucial to STOP, pay attention, and not give in to fear.

On the beach: I had to STOP the feelings of guilt, that somehow the event was my fault.

In life: Unproductive thoughts need to be STOPPED in their tracks when working through relational or physical obstacles.

Think on This

There are other parts to my SOAR acronym that have equal value, and maybe you already know what the “O,” “A,” and “R” stand for. But I’ll talk about those in another post.

For today, I’d like you to think about these three things.

  1. What experience have you had—on or off the beach— where STOPPING was the best first step you could have taken?
  2. Do you struggle to STOP when you face a scary or unexpected situation?
  3. How can you begin to implement this strategy of STOPPING, to better respond to life’s challenges?

Soaring in life means different things to each of us. But training yourself to STOP when confronting your personal rip currents, is a great first step.