My first personal experience with a goldfish took place when our oldest daughter was 4 years old. After months of pleading for a pet, my husband and I finally decided to compromise.
A dog was out of the question. Between the demands of career and family, I knew a puppy would not have the quality of life that it deserved in our house. A goldfish would have to do.
Freddy was well loved and cared for. I washed its bowl on Saturdays, and our little girl would proudly feed him daily. However, despite our TLC, Freddy died four months after joining the family. He was the first and only live fish to enter our home, and I have not thought about it until earlier today, when I came across an interesting article.
Both our daughters play volleyball, and our oldest was appointed as captain of her team for the fifth season in a row. A natural leader, she always seeks inspiration to encourage and build her team up.
In her first season playing for their school, her coach taught the team a principle that I call “the goldfish mindset.”
According to popular belief, goldfish have very poor memory, and therefore they cannot remember one moment from another. The goldfish mindset that became popular with the volleyball team rests in not allowing a mistake, or defeat, to rule over one’s remaining time on the court: Make a mistake, lose a point or match, learn from it, and move on. Don’t dwell on it. Goldfish.
I have loved the principle and used it many times to encourage our children not to focus on negative thoughts about themselves or others.
But as I started researching about goldfish this morning, hoping to find out more about its behavior and makeup, I was utterly surprised.
I thought Freddy had a short life because that was the plight of every goldfish. I also thought goldfish were naturally small, and that they could not grow bigger than two to three inches.
Was I ever wrong!
The article, written by a tropical fish expert, debunks several common myths concerning this animal, and inspired a myriad of metaphorical analogies in my mind concerning the influence of one’s environment and faith in the quality and potential of his or her life.
You see, contrary to popular belief, goldfish do not have poor memory. One of the reasons people believe that they can be kept in a small bowl is because their “three-second memory” does not allow them to get bored or tired of its environment. According to experts (and don’t ask me how they know it), even though the “goldfish mindset” is certainly a wonderful teaching tool, it is, in fact, a myth. Bummer!
But of all myths that I read about, the one that stood out the most pertains to the natural size and lifespan of goldfish. Given the right circumstances and a clean environment, goldfish are known to be indeterminate growers. That means that, unlike humans, they grow until they die. In fact, the common goldfish can reach over 18 inches and 10 pounds!
So, what makes our pet goldfish remain so small and often die so fast?
The answer is in the size and quality of their environment. Give a goldfish a clean lake, and it will become large, and live as much as 40 plus years!
I can’t help but wonder how many of God’s children are limited by the quality and size of their faith and environment. Indeed, Scriptures are filled with the accounts of men and women who were considered uneducated, weak and resourceless; but whose faith, rising above their circumstances and limitations, changed lives, nations and history. They refused to remain captive of the environment in which they found themselves. They silenced their fears with extraordinary faith in their limitless and omnipotent God. Because they believed, God enlarged their territory, and their life stories still impact the world today.Difficult situations may often threaten to stall our progress, but faith can move us to much broader spaces, where we will never stop growing. Click To Tweet
I don’t know about you, but I will never look at a goldfish in a small bowl the same way again.
This article was originally published on Patricia’s column for The Atlanta Journal Constitution on Saturday – January 20, 2018.Bigger accomplishments require more daring faith. Could your destiny be trapped inside the boundaries of a wavering heart? Read this! Click To Tweet