You don’t have to go fishing (you can let them go)

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It came to me on the heels of a big mistake. For months, I’d suffered from brain fog, my short-term memory just shot to the hot place. “But I told you and told you,” my longsuffering husband said when he heard what had happened.

“Yes. I know you probably did, but I just didn’t remember.” Being who he is, he simply got on the phone, called people, and set about fixing my mess. Then, while I cried my eyes out, he told me it would all be okay. “Cars can be fixed. People can’t. The car will be okay, too.”

For most of that day, I writhed. I felt over and over the lash of shame, heard the “what will they think of you” hiss in my ears, and I could not regain my steady legs. A mostly-sleepless night finally passed, and in the early-morning hour when I awoke, I saw the picture, and I heard Him speak.

In my mind’s eye, I was sitting on the banks of a river. The stream was fast and rushing, and I knew what the photograph meant. It was the flow of the thoughts in my mind.

For once, I was the observer on that riverbank, watching what swirled and dashed past. As sunlight played upon the silvered surface, I could see fish that leapt and swam, carried along by the current. And then came the Voice.

“You don’t have to go fishing.”


“You don’t have to hold them in your hands and draw them close. It’s okay to let them rush on by.” To rush on by, disappearing somewhere down-the-stream.

In the intervening days, that picture and its message have continued to speak. The fish in the hurried river? Shame and fear.

What this painful experience taught me again was that I have a choice. I can sit on the banks of my life, constantly catching and holding the poisonous fish. That is old, familiar ground. I can choose to keep doing that. That’s one choice.


I can choose a different way. I can choose to stay the hands that long to reach out and snatch up the poison fish from long experience, and clutch them to my chest. I can watch them swim on by. I can choose that, too.

Paul’s instruction in 2 Corinthians is a walking staff to guide us on our way. “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.”

Or, in Rhonda-ese, “We don’t have to keep catching poison fish.”

What a good place to begin. It’s a powerful way to (re)wire the brain, to (re)train the mind, to (re)gain our own inner peace.

Seems like today is a good day to practice this habit. As I often tell my sons when they agonize over failure or something hard, “It’s just like when you were learning to walk. It took practice. At first you fell a lot, but you got up and tried again. Pretty soon you could walk a little further and a liitttle bit further, and after awhile, you could run! It’s exactly like that. And at every stage, you were perfect in my eyes.”

It always brings them relief. That’s why I’m offering it to you as well. “It takes practice. At first you will fall a lot, but you’ll get up and try again. Pretty soon, you’ll go longer and longer and a liittle bit further, and after awhile, you’ll have it down cold.”

It’s exactly like that. And at every stage, you are perfect (I am perfect) in His eyes.

Warmly offered,

Rhonda, one small caffeinated American mom


    1. They hurt our hands when we hold them, but they’re soooo familiar. It takes practice, but it’s an old pattern that we can change.

  1. Indeed, I don’t have to go fishing! Thank you for that, Rhonda. This post will stay with me a long time: “…And at every stage, you were perfect in my eyes.” That’s such a wonderful thing to say to your children…and to this old man, too.

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