A Hooked Fish

When a trout rising to a fly gets hooked on a line and finds himself unable to swim about freely, he begins with a fight which results in struggles and splashes and sometimes an escape. Often, of course, the situation is too tough for him.

In the same way the human being struggles with his environment and with the hooks that catch him. Sometimes he masters his difficulties; sometimes they are too much for him. His struggles are all that the world sees and it naturally misunderstands them. It is hard for a free fish to understand what is happening to a hooked one.” –Karl A. Menninger

A Walk in My Shoes got me to thinking about this statement by Menninger which author Chaim Potok placed as the beginning of his novel The Chosen. Love the quote, love the book.

Trust me (some of you can give witness to this) when I say that I’ve done my beyond-fair share of misjudging people in my lifetime. As a classroom teacher, I often jumped to conclusions about the intentions or attitudes of students. That doesn’t mean that I intended to do so — in fact, I truly intended to not be “one of those teachers.” My own hooks sometimes blinded me, hindering my ability to see the hooks in others around me. This is a reality of life.

My own hooks (or, more rightly, the wounds from those hooks) also have given me the ability to better see the hooks in others — as I have invited God to use those circumstances, those mistakes, those willful acts of rebellion and their consequences to build in me both discernment and compassion. I’ve a long way to go before I will declare myself compassionate — this is a journey that I expect will take a lifetime.

Sometimes walking in someone else’s shoes gives perspective that we need. Other times we need to remember our own scars in order to see the wounds of others.

In case I ever grow weary in this journey, I am reminded that Christ himself took on skin so he would know what it is to be hooked and, having experienced all temptation (without giving in to it), he became a perfect, compassionate high priest for us.

2 thoughts on “A Hooked Fish

  1. Mary Blanc says:

    Thank You for posting “The Hooked Fish” story just a couple days before I needed to search for it. I subscribed to a Menninger Clinic Newsletter 15 or so years ago … after losing a brother to suicide. I found a lot of comfort in this analogy. Now my children & their friends are approaching the age that my brother was when his … “struggles with his environment” … started to become … “too much for him” … and my eyes are now better trained to see the TRAPS that (as a rule) older generations set to ensnare & fleece young adults whose youthful arrogance coupled with inexperienced freedoms make them such … Happy Hunting Grounds for … Snakes & Wolves Posing As …ahem… Mentors.

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