Something unexpected happened when I first held my grandson, Joshua. He adjusted himself into my chest and his hug reached right into my heart. I’ve never been the same since we connected like that. I suppose it’s only natural he seemed to love fishing.
I started him out fishing with an empty line on a Colorado pond. He doesn’t remember it, but he had to fish “like grandpa.”
Later, I took him to a local pond in Temecula, where crappie and bluegill abound. I just put a little piece of worm on a small hook with his Power Ranger pole, and he caught one every cast. The only problem, he thought all fishing was like that.
For his first trout expedition, we drove to a pond in the local mountains. It wasn’t like the bluegill experience, and at five he was getting bored with neither of us getting any bites after an hour or so.
Then a trout hit my line, and his joy at least matched mine. No selfish competition here. But after reeling the trout in for 20 feet, the fish slipped loose. Josh commiserated with me for about three seconds until he screamed. After sloughing off my hook, the trout grabbed the closest available worm. Josh’s.
He carefully reeled in his largest catch, arriving as a trout fisherman, graduating from crappie to the king of fish. Grandpa couldn’t have been more proud. But that five year old taught me something significant about trout. About life, really.
Dad taught me to angle for trout, and from the beginning, it was game on. Who caught the biggest, the most. That imprinted on my DNA, even on trips with friends. Mano a mano competition. I won a lot. I’m a pretty decent stream fisherman.
But too much of my self-worth became linked to my victories. If I out-caught someone, that said something about me, beyond that I merely caught more fish. Josh, at five, played a key role in changing that. I realized trout could be more team sport than contest. Life, especially life following Jesus, could be more team sport than contest.
Looking back, my deep love and connection with Josh made him more important than who caught the most. Could it be I compete, at least in part, because I don’t value connecting with others as much as I should?
Kick Starting the Exploration
You may not fish for trout. Or any fish. You may not compete with others, as I did. But what in your life keeps you from connecting more with others? What keeps you from building them more? How deep do your closest connections go? What would you be willing to sacrifice for them? If you seem to need growth in closeness, have you noticed the necessary obstacle that brings to intimacy with God?