Stunted Growth

By Peter Story

When I was a kid, I saw plenty of goldfish in the houses of my friends, and I remember wondering why so many people would want to keep such small, unexciting creatures as pets.

Then one day I went on a school field trip to a botanical garden that had a pond stocked with fish. One especially large, brilliantly colored fish stood out to me.

"What kind of fish is that one?" I asked our guide.

"That's a goldfish," she replied.

I was confused. "Aren't goldfish supposed to be small?" I asked with a note of 10-year-old sarcasm.

"Not at all," she replied. "Goldfish will grow even larger than these. It really just depends on the size of their environment."

I took in the information, but it was years before I understood the broader lesson.

How often have I been like a goldfish in a fishbowl? How often have I limited myself by my perception of my world? Worse still, how many times have I put others in a small bowl in my mind? How many times have I written off someone as insignificant or unexciting? How many times have I failed to see others' potential to grow?

How much more could I achieve if I forgot my perceived limitations and dared to swim beyond the boundaries I've set for myself? And what would happen if I moved others from their small bowls into the ocean of limitless possibilities that Jesus offers?

Just imagine a world full of people with that perspective, who truly believe that anything is possible and reach out to claim it. Together we could do astounding things. Together we could work miracles.

The Toddler in the Garden

By Zela Perl

While babysitting a friend's toddler, I watched the child explore a garden. She had only been walking for a few weeks, but was having a great time and seemed fairly confident. Each time she fell down, I expected her to cry, but she just got up, looked to me for approval and praise, and continued her wide-eyed quest. She had learned to fall in such a way as to not get hurt. For her, every fall was a chance to learn something about her newly acquired skill.

I also realized that she wasn't afraid of falling. She was so small that she didn't have very far to fall, and she knew that I was right there to help her if she needed it.

How many times have I not even started a new project for fear of failing? Jesus said, "You must become like little children to enter the kingdom of Heaven," (Matthew 18:3) and I think that's true of other things. We would be wise to be like little children when it comes to trying new things, even though we'll probably take a few falls at first. That's not to say we shouldn't shoot for the stars, but when we are small in our own eyes, if we fail or make mistakes we won't have so far to fall.

If we think that we are so big and strong and capable, we'll get discouraged when things go wrong. Our pride will make the fall all the harder. But if we have childlike faith in our heavenly Father, we don't need to fear failure. And when we know that "all things will work together for good to those who love God," (Romans 8:28) we can rest assured that when we do fall, He will be there to pick us up and encourage us to try again. And with the experience we gain from each fall, we will be that much more likely to succeed in the end.

I don't measure a man's success by how high he climbs, but how high he bounces when he hits bottom.--General George Patton (1885-1945)

A failure means you put forth some effort. That's good. Failure gives you an opportunity to learn a better way to do it. That's positive. A failure teaches you something and adds to your experience. That's very helpful. Failure is an event, never a person; an attitude, not an outcome; a temporary inconvenience; a stepping stone. Our response to it determines just how helpful it can be.--Zig Ziglar (b. 1926)

Even a mistake may turn out to be the one thing necessary to a worthwhile achievement.--Henry Ford (1863-1947)

Peter Story is a member of the Family International in Mexico.

Zela Perl is a member of the Family International in Chile.