Tuesday, March 31, 2015

What Fish Have to Teach Us

This weekend we took a trip to the aquarium while my parents were in town visiting. It was such a fun trip and we loved every minute of it. 

We looked at tank after tank full of amazing creatures...rays and skates, brilliant tropical fish of every variety, sharks, seahorses and jelly fish. I had a permanent smile and kept saying, "Oh my goodness, did you see that one? WOW!!!!"  

We reached the end of the aquarium tour and I stood looking at the last tank, that silly smile still plastered on my face. I watched some fish swim in circles around the tank, some swim in erratic back-and-forth patterns, while some seemingly hovered in one spot.


Each fish was amazingly unique. Stripes, spots, solid colors...brilliant shades of neon colors or translucent barely-there "skin" like on the jelly fish that glowed under the tank lights. 

Some fish had intricate lace-like fins while others had what looked like wings, gently gliding through their liquid home. Some were flat, plate-like creatures, while the octopus showed off its arms, suction cups pressed to the glass.


Here's what I noticed about these fascinating animals. Surrounded by other creatures, equally marvelous, they continued to swim, weaving in and out among the coral and ship wreck pieces, flaunting their beauty for everyone peering into their world.


In some tanks dozens of fish of the same species swam together in groups, moving in unison from one side to the other or while others swam in what appeared to be a chaotic jumble. But they continued on, swimming, nibbling on food particles, sleeping. 

Do you think one of these gorgeous little clown fish was swimming around thinking, "I sure wish I was a sea horse. They're so much better at swimming than I am. They're so much more beautiful." Or "If only I was a shark. They're so much bigger, much more fierce than I am. Other fish would really respect me if only I was a shark."

How ridiculous does that sound? It's insane, right? But so often, we do that. We find ourselves in the comparison trap, looking at our sister, neighbor, friend and thinking we would be better off if we were more like them, had their talents, looked like them, talked like them.

Instead of living as our authentic selves, fully invested in who God has made us to be, embracing all of our abilities, talents, imperfections and struggles, we spend our lives masquerading as a knock-off version of someone else. And when we do that, everyone in our lives misses out. We rob ourselves and those we love and serve from our truest selves.

Think about the people in your life that you admire the most. I'm not talking about the celebrities on the cover of a glossy magazine or the lady you see at the grocery checkout that's neatly dressed and every hair in place. I'm talking about the women and men you know personally, the ones that you've seen their lumps and bruises, not just their successes and highlight reel. We (sometimes secretly) admire those people most who are vulnerable, who show us their hearts and love themselves and others for who they are at their core.

It's my goal to be that kind of woman, the woman who doesn't look at the woman next to me and wish I was a mother, friend or Christian like her, but one who looks to my Heavenly Father to show me who I am. One that FULLY embraces who I was made to be and owns my story. A woman that gives the people around me the best of myself and not just a counterfeit version of the gal next to me. It's in this way that I give myself to the world.

Can you be vulnerable today? Can you share pieces of your heart, share your dreams and hopes, your fears and worries? Will you find someone you can be 100% authentic with, someone who will embrace you just as you are? If you think you don't have anyone in your life like this, consider this...maybe they're waiting for you (or anyone!) to let them know that it's okay. That it's okay to not have it all together, to not be a picture of perfection. Be the one to show them today.