Fishing for “Maybe” and Hoping for Yes!

Fishing for the Best Opportunities to Make a DifferenceThe other day, Mr. Jenn and I took the kids fishing. We loaded up our little jon boat, Penelope, with gear. I strapped my kayak, the S.S. Mama Needs Some Peace and Quiet to the top of Penelope. Finally, our little family headed off to a tiny creek that meanders off the Chesapeake Bay. This creek is deceptive—even though it looks like it would be too small to house anything worth the life of a worm, it’s full of large catfish. The catfish troll around the bottom in places where the gar fish aren’t breaching the surface constantly.

Where are you casting your fishing lines? Is this best serving you?
One of Mr. Jenn’s noodles before the catfish took it across the creek..

We don’t always go fishing with rods and reels; instead, we use jugs, or “noodles,” as Mr. Jenn calls them. He fashions floats out of cut pool noodles wrapped around plastic pipe and drills holes in each one for the line, hooks, and bait. Mr. Jenn created a bagful several years back, and we’ve been tossing them into this little creek every spring.

He and the kids set noodles in a line up and down the creek, and I paddle along in my kayak. Before long, the individual floats take off across the water as the catfish hit the lines. It’s hilarious to watch. The kids squeal every time one moves—it’s shocking the fish don’t leave with all the noise we make.

As I watch my husband and kids roll up line after line and pull in fish from down the creek, I breathe out some stress and gain a little bit of perspective. I’m writing here at Meaningful Connections for families in the middle of everything. I think about all my responsibilities and all the different things I’m doing, and I know that so many people for whom I’m writing are doing the same.

We’re leaving little bits of ourselves at the workplace, at fundraisers, at county and city meetings where we’re trying to change the status quo, at the ball fields, and in our own homes. We are setting out floats all up and down the creeks of our lives wondering if it’s all worth it. What on earth are we all chasing? What are we fishing for?

And then we see those floats take off. We’ve innovated at work, or we’ve helped someone in need. The board’s vote went in our direction, or the kids learned a life lesson at Saturday’s game. That flowerbed we’ve been working on finally looks like the oasis we envisioned.

I have read about the importance of the word, “no,” but I now like the word, “maybe” much better. Sometimes you leave catfish floats in a spot where the gar fish have taken over. You see all that splashing around and commotion those gar make in the water and think maybe this spot is the answer. This place seems like it’s probably ripe with fish.

On the contrary, the spot where you left your floats is full of fish, just not the right kind. Great catches have gone elsewhere. This is where the “maybe” comes in. Instead of saying “yes” to something that seems important, evaluate whether it’s draining your resources too much. Who are you really serving? Is your “yes” truly making a difference or does it need to turn into a “no?” Instead of wondering why you aren’t getting a bite, you pick up your floats and move on. You know that just down the creek, there’s a spot where your “maybe” will turn into a “yes.”

Fishing for the best places to make a difference!
Apparently, they found the right spot!

So be careful where you leave pieces of yourself—but don’t be afraid to set your floats. Eventually, you’ll meet those goals—you’ll make the difference you so passionately want to make. The time will finally come when you’ll hear squeals and leave with a full cooler.


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