Drowning Fish

This is not what I was made to do.

I have said the words more times in the last weeks than ever before.  One might almost think I’m unhappy.

One would be right.  Some of the time.

I’m a communicator.  A people person.  I use words.  It’s how I survived in the retail market for nearly forty years.

That was then.

Today, I hung a kitchen cabinet door.  Three times.  The same one—three times.

I’m not good with cabinet doors.  Or sheetrock.  Or wall trim.

The red-headed woman who raised me had an apt simile for such a situation.  She usually did.

He’s like a fish out of water.

It’s nothing to joke about.  A fish out of water is terminal.  It will die.

I don’t think I will die from my attempts at home remodeling.  If you could be a spider in the corner though, you’d think someone was dying.

My griping and grousing are vocal and vehement.  I call myself names.  I call the materials I’m working with names.

I even bring God into the conversation, accusing Him and questioning His wisdom in trusting me with this task.

It does feel as if I’m drowning and can’t get enough air.  With sweat running down my back and face, I do the task once, twice, and a third time—all with the same result.

Do you ever feel as if you're drowning and can't get enough air? Click To Tweet

Drowning.  In frustration—and impatience.  But, mostly in self-pity.

And yet. . .

And yet, I am not a man drowning in water deep, nor a fish tossed up on the river bank to flop until, gasping for the water rushing through my gills from which to draw the filtered oxygen my body demands, I finally lie still forever.

I am not drowning.  I am in an uncomfortable situation—one in which I’ve never found myself before.

But, it’s not the first time.

And, I’m not the only one.

The King of Creation sometimes lets us know we’ve become too comfortable, too complacent.

It’s a good thing.

I keep telling myself that.  It’s a good thing.

I wish I could have remembered it earlier today.

I wonder if Joseph, he of the many-hued robe, was any better, day-to-day, in remembering that God only wanted good for him.

I imagine he wasn’t—day after tedious day.

I want him not to have been any better.  It would make me feel less guilty, anyway.

I want Joseph to have muttered under his breath when he was forced to be a house slave in Egypt. I want him to have defended himself, at least in a whisper, when accused of acts he would never have committed. I want him to have screamed at God as he sat, forgotten and betrayed in that horrible dungeon.

It would be easier to look at my own face in the mirror if those things were true.  At least, it seems so to me tonight.

But then, griping and muttering past, I want, like Joseph, to understand God had a plan all along.

I also want—in the end—to have made the right choices, even when it felt as if those very decisions were what was making life an unfamiliar maze, one in which there was so little air that it felt suffocation was seconds away.

And, gasping for air, I finally want to trust a God I cannot see with the things I hold in my hands and the future I can just make out in the distance ahead.

I will go back tomorrow and take that cabinet door back down, only to put it back up again.

I will hear, over the dissenting voices in my head, the quiet tones of my father, quoting those familiar words from the heart of Jeremiah, the crying man.

I know the plans I’ve made for you, says your Creator.  They are for great good—for your benefit and not for your harm.  There is hope.  There is a future to which you should look with anticipation.  (Jeremiah 29:11)

And, whether Joseph did or not, I will probably yell some more.  I may even shout at God in my frustration and anger.

He can take it.

He knows (and remembers clearly) how we were formed.  He knows that we came from dirt.  (Psalm 103:14)

And still, He seeks to shape us into something better, something more refined.

And still, He seeks to shape us into something better. Click To Tweet

While we gasp for breath in a new environment, He is breathing new life into us.

It’s time to do the new thing He has put in front of me.

Perhaps, there is more for me to do.

Breathe deep.

Keep moving.

The future lies just ahead.




They did what soldiers always did.  They improvised.
(Geoffrey Norman ~ American writer/editor)


Alive without breath;
as cold as death;
never thirsting, ever drinking;
clad in mail, never clinking.
Drowns on dry land,
thinks an island
is a mountain;
thinks a fountain
is a puff of air.
(from The Hobbit ~ J.R.R. Tolkien ~ Ballantine Books, New York. Copyright 1937, 1938, 1966.)





© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2017. All Rights Reserved.

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