Are you a catch and release friend?
The pastor asks this question, goes on to challenge. About how building relationships isn’t a sport; it is coming alongside to invest in people, not a project to be won. So I ask God what this kind of authenticity looks like and then remember . . .
In the late afternoon, after I lead a small group, go out to lunch with friends, I slide boots off, slip on athletic shoes and straddle the seat of a beach bike. I pedal alongside a girlfriend under an umbrella of Fall sun. Our curly locks blow in the breeze, we smile contagious; swerve around gardeners who glance up from flowerbeds, mirror our expressions and wave.
She asks if we can snatch thirty minutes before waiting in the school pick-up line to catch up. Because three weeks of doing life pass so quick and she has this window. And I can’t imagine that any errand I have to do is more important than saying yes.
We ride side by side around every cul-de-sac, down every lane in the well-manicured neighborhood, our string of words waving behind us like banner in the wind. Afterward we catch our breath, lean into the kitchen cabinets and chug cold water. She looks me in the eyes and her words love me honest.
She explains that I am more than a catch and release friend to her. I am a keeper. And I can tell that she is wondering if I value our friendship the same.
This honesty feels rare. Like finding a snowflake in the middle of the desert – unexpected and welcome surprise.
And I affirm the value of our friendship. Admit that though I think about her, pray for her often, I am not very good at initiating in the relationship.
“Actually, you suck at it,” she says smiling in agreement. And though this admonition is startling, the honesty is like God pulling the curtain back to help me see and I am grateful.
Because sometimes we let everything else win over what is most important – showing that we love people.
What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself. ~Matthew 4:25
Sometimes when you find yourself being caught and released for what seems more appealing in the sea, you become ambivalent, stop throwing in the line altogether. Let someone else do the fishing.
Whether a girlfriend or a stranger in need, people are not projects and God calls us all to be fisherman. And this telling the truth in love is what authentic looks. It’s living outside of yourself and being known because of Christ. Christ in us, living through us.
Jesus said to them, “Come with me. I’ll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass.” ~Matthew 4:19
Are you a catch and release friend or are you fishing to keep?
- friends who speak truth
- family who travel thousands of miles to be with us for Thanksgiving
- warm weather in November
- laughter during a family photo shoot
- boys who wake up happy, make mom giggle
- for a short week of routine
- expectancy that comes with breaking routine
- imminent travel plans that give hope
- For Christ, who gives us all reason to be thankful every day.