Sue the Betta Fish
Two years ago, for my eldest daughter, Naya’s 8th birthday, a dear friend asked if it would be ok to get her a Betta fish. My friend assured me it was very low maintenance, so I allowed her to gift the fish. Let me start by saying, I am NOT a pet person. Since I wrote this piece two years ago, we have been through just one fish and one puppy, to which the fish died and we had to rehome the puppy. Just recently for my daughter’s 10thbirthday she was gifted (by the same friend) another betta fish. We are so busy with life and ministry, I don’t want to worry about another mouth to feed or more messes to clean up, or having to come home early because I need to let a pet out.
Well, we had our male Betta fish, named Sue, for almost a year, and though I have to admit he was very low maintenance, he had become my responsibility and not Naya’s. I cleaned his bowl, fed him and basically kept him alive so that we could have a “pet” in our home. However, I did not particularly grow fond of this fish. There really wasn’t anything special about him; not to mention there wasn’t much interaction between us other than when I am tried scooping him out of his bowl when I cleaned it (which had been twice in the first 9 months… and ultimately the cause of his death). About 6 months into having Sue, he started acting different. I would be doing the norm… cleaning or walking through the room and would notice Sue belly up in the bowl! I would walk over and look down from the top of the bowl and Sue would flip right side up and start swimming around the bowl. I would get this anxious feeling when I walked over, thinking he might be dead. But, when he flopped over I got this “whew” feeling each time. Because, each time he flopped over, I got out of telling my daughters their fish was dead! To my relief of finding Sue alive, I would think back to when the last time was that I had fed him … which was usually a couple days before, so I would grab his food and sprinkle some flakes on top and watch him gulp them up as quickly as possible. I would sort of smirk to myself because I felt like I had just saved his life once again, and then I would continue on to whatever I was doing before that. (lol)
After thinking about this seemingly normal scenario (at least in my house it was normal), God started to show me how Sue relates to some people in my life. You know… the people you know but don’t really know. The ones who you always say hello to, the ones you make a point to talk to but never seem to get past the pleasantries… those people. I am sure you can think of a few you might know too! The people who haven’t made an impact on you enough for you to make the extra effort to get to know them better. These are my “Sues” in life.
Until… tragedy hits their life, and we walk over and look down at them and try to “help” them by praying, calling, texting, leaving a Facebook comment on their wall, or making them a meal. They are all of a sudden on your mind constantly and we pray for them throughout the time the tragedy remains in their life, or until something big or little in our life distracts us. They suddenly “come to life” and become important in ways they never were before. You feel a connection with them without even knowing them.
Then life gets busy, especially when things get better(ish) with them and you lose interest or move on to the next person or situation in your life. I know I have done this many times. When I first started relating Sue to these people in my life, I was convicted immediately for being so selfish and superficial. Then the questions started flooding in my mind like “Did I even help them at all, or did they see straight through my superficial concerns? Was I truly concerned for them or just hoping that it never happened to me; and, if it did, was I just relating to how I would want people to treat me during such a time? Why would I do this? And, why do I make it a point to seek out real friendships with only certain people?
I haven’t really answered these questions in my mind, because to be honest… I don’t know all the answers. But, this group of questions lead to another group of questions I feel are better suited to ensure some answers that may possibly lead to some positive character changes in my life.
- How do we know who God wants us to start a deeper relationship with?
I believe that God places people in our lives and gives us opportunities to get to know them better. I think that when tragedy hits one of those people, the Holy Spirit will tug on our hearts and move us to pray for them and think of them, to feel closer to them because of the situation at hand. One thing that you CAN do when you find yourself thinking of them and praying for them is to ask the Holy Spirit to open doors for you to continue to minister to that person. Pray that the Holy Spirit would guide you in your conversations with them and to prompt you or remind you when your life gets too busy to follow up with them even after the tragic situation has passed.
If we want to be more like Jesus, we need to seek out the Holy Spirit’s guidance in these situations. When you rely on the Holy Spirit, you are relying on God. God loves when we rely on him, that is what he is there for! So, when we fail at showing His unconditional and endless love to our neighbor, we need to re-evaluate what love we are receiving from Him lately, if at all. If we are not fully excepting God’s unconditional love, how are we going to show that to anyone else (if it is not experienced first-hand by us)?
I love the example of this we see in Matthew 5:14-16
“You are a light to the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
We need to remember to be a light to those in darkness so that through us they can see Him, and feel his love! God put that desire to help others on our hearts, if we are not acting on that we are disobeying Him. So, get familiar with the Holy Spirit’s guidance in your life. Listen, do, and reap the rewards of being obedient!
- How do we take relationships from superficial to meaningful during those tragic times?
Jesus said in Matthew 22:36-40 says that the second greatest of the commandments is to love your neighbor as yourself, second only to the command to love the Lord our God with all of our hearts, souls and minds. That being said, we should love ALL of our neighbors as ourselves. Whether it be just during the time of a tragedy or a lifelong friendship, I believe what really matters is where our hearts are with God during this time. If you are right with God, your intentions will be pure and right, your efforts to comfort and help the person during the tragedy will not go unnoticed by the person, or by God. I said in the beginning I felt selfish and superficial by my actions, but I believe now this was just God convicting me that I might need to work harder on my follow-up due to my introverted nature. When thinking back, I do believe I was sincere in the times I reached out and prayed for my friends. But, I also know that I didn’t always get to know the person better because of the ways I tried to help. God is always longing for relationship with us, and we should always be longing for relationship with others, to love them and encourage them through life.
When thinking back at the hard times I have gone through in my life I remember the people who actually reached out and got to know me through those times. I probably couldn’t tell you who wrote on my Facebook wall or text me once to tell me they were praying for me. Instead, I remember the ones who truly showed the love of Christ during those times by crying with me or just listening or making me get off my butt and drink some coffee with them, ones who made meals and sent cards. I guess what Sue has taught me through this is that I need to remember God’s unconditional love when I reach out to an acquaintance during a tragedy so that they will see God through me.
Now, I am not sure if Sue was really that smart when he turned upside down when he got hungry, or if he was actually dying… but, I do know that God laid this on my heart for a reason. We all need to work on our loving skills, our friendships and our relationship with God. There is no end to the work that needs to be done in our hearts. There is always room for improvement in all areas of life. God is the answer, he has the knowledge and he said in Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” Now, do I think this was one of those great and hidden things he showed me through our betta fish Sue? Maybe! I do know it gave me some insight into areas of my life that needed some work. So, when your Sue flops belly up, remember to seek the Holy Spirit to guide your interactions during and after that time, I think if we do this there will be blessings along the way… not just for you, but also for “Sue.” And when thinking back, when I took the time to really watch and look at Sue, he was truly beautiful! I would bet that all of the Sue’s in my life are just a beautiful and I would see that if I only took the time to look. So, thank you Sue for the wonderful reminder to be the light!
Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to read my thoughts today! I am excited that you are here, and hope that you were able to take something encouraging from this blog and apply it to your life today. I am an artist, and being so, very visual. So, each week I create a piece of artwork that goes along with my blogs as a visual reminder of what God taught me through it! Also, I love to give! So, I will be hosting another giveaway this week for the “be the light” necklace. I will post the winner Tuesday, May 22nd at 8pm on my Facebook page, The Lesser Me. Please follow instructions below to enter to win this lovely reminder to “be the light” to the Sues in your life.
How to enter:
- Comment on this blog post
- Share the link to this blog on your Facebook Page
- Like The Lesser Me Facebook page (link in right column)
Good luck to you all! I am looking forward to hearing from each of you! I am praying you have a lovely week!