My dad was an avid fisherman. As many times as I tried, I could not develop his passion for fishing. He was able to pass his passion on to me for the game of golf. In fact, the older I get, the more I appreciate the sport and every chance I get to play it. I used to say that I didn’t have the patience to fish. The truth was, I never enjoyed getting my hands dirty to bait a hook and take a fish off once caught.
The other thing that made no sense to me with fishing was catch and release. Perhaps it is my competitive nature and my desire always to know what the score is, no matter what I’m doing. Whatever the reason, I never understood the fun of working for hours to land that one big fish, only to hold it up long enough to admire it before tossing it back into the water. To me, that’s like a game-winning pass, basket, or goal being called back or reversed by a penalty. You work the whole time to win the game at the end, but then you don’t.
As the old saying goes, however, with age comes wisdom. Recently, on several fronts, I have been moved to consider the wisdom of catch and release. It really has nothing to do with fishing, but it has everything to do with how you live your life. Let me explain.
We work endlessly and tirelessly our entire lives to catch things. Sure, there are the trappings of success, such as a house, a car, a vacation, etc. But we also work for respect and to exchange love, especially to and from those in our families. If you think about it, everything we do is largely based on what we will get by giving. Much more than just an exchange of goods and services, we also give time, attention, effort, and yes, money to receive back things that we want and that we think will bring us happiness and even contentment.
Back to the aging wisdom thing. The truth is the older we get, and the more perspective we allow into our lives, the more we realize how little we need and how little we actually own. I imagine some of you may take issue with this declaration, but let me challenge your thinking in this area. As a parent, you and I are ultimately responsible for our children, for their safety, security, and well-being. They belong to us, and we do whatever we can and whatever we have to do. But for all of the training, teaching, loving, and everything else we do for them, what is the ultimate goal and result? We release them into the world to become the people we raised them, and God created them to be.
Although this is an emotional thing, it is happening again all over the place this year. As parents watch their young adults graduate and either head into the world or off to college to pursue their passions, we must release them and trust that we have prepared them well for their next adventure. This is true not only for children, however. I wonder if you would consider with me what other gifts, rewards, or benefits do you have in your possession? My second and more poignant question is, which of those do you really need? My final question is, just as with our children, what does it cost to hold onto those things rather than release them?
If you believe, as I do, that everyone and everything is created for a reason, then I challenge you to think about the things that you hold on to as most precious. Who, how, and where could those things do even more good and give more benefit if you were to releaser them into the world? Again, this is all suggested under the guise that we all have basic needs, and the rest that we have can and should be used to bless other people.
Most of us do not have to look far to see needs. They exist all around us. This past weekend I worked in a local food bank with members of my Rotary Club to pack bags of healthy snacks for children in the Dallas area. I have lived in Dallas most of my life, and I know that there are a large number of affluent and philanthropic people that live here. On Saturday, we were told the need for food and help has never been greater due to the pandemic, and experts estimate it will take two years for the needed supplies to catch up to demand.
So, my challenge for you this week is to consider what you possess that you have held onto for a long time that could be an even bigger blessing if you release it. As the father of three twenty-something-year-old children, I understand more than most the difficulty coupled with the excitement of releasing something that I value as much as anything I have ever had. But, in the game of life, and your life and my life, that’s the way it is meant to end.
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