I was fishing for bass. I chose a surface lure – a Jitterbug. I positioned the boat where the bass were. The net was nearby. It was the right time of day. My first cast was long and well-positioned. I had barely cranked the reel enough to get the slack out of the line when something raised itself slowly up out of the water the way porpoise or whales do.
The bait was taken by a pike or maybe a musky. It had to have been at least 36 inches long. I set the hook with force and it swam casually down into the weeds. I used the fish as an anchor reeling and pulling the boat directly over its head. I proceeded to tug the large fish along with a hundred pounds of weeds upward.
All of a sudden I had a sinking feeling in my gut. Who expects the unexpected? I was fishing for 2 – 3 pound bass not 10 – 20 pound pike. The drag wasn’t working on my reel. (The drag is a mechanism that enables the reel to be set at a specific tension which allows the reel to slide to avoid breaking the line).
Everything from that point on seemed to happen in slow motion. The fish was in full view, relaxed, almost majestic; not fighting – almost indifferent; sunning itself. It began to swim ever so slowly away, right past me, taunting me and stretching the line to its breaking point. I rubbed my thumb raw trying to adjust the broken drag, and, before I could think to push the button to disengage the tension, the line snapped and my potential trophy swam away unaware we were connected for a time by a string.
When I was young my technique for establishing relationships was no different from my poor fishing skills. If I got lucky enough to hook something, I would invariably horse it in for the sake of the trophy with little consideration for the object of my affection. If fear would drive it down into the weeds, instead of allowing it to come up on its own, I would force it quickly back to the surface which only increases the fear.
I never considered a relationship to be based on two individuals willingly holding on to the same thread. Just because two people decide to take hold of the same string doesn’t obligate them to hang on. I know now the best way to strengthen someone else’s grip has nothing to do with my strength to hang on. If I want someone to hold on, the only thing I have the power to do is to increase my own value.
The understanding that lasting value comes from God and can never be taken away is the equivalent of having a functional, clean, well-oiled reel. It also allows you to have sufficient string so when someone tries to pull away you can let that string slide through your fingers without losing your grip or burning your hands.
I’m not sure if the mistakes I made fishing improved my relationship skills or the poor technique I applied to my relationships made me a better fisherman. I only know that if I continue to increase my value, all of my relationships will be better for it. It’s a drag losing fish after fish, but, not understanding why, that’s reel trouble.