There once was a boy who caught his first trout from the nearby mountain stream. Satisfied with his achievement, he placed the trout carefully on a thick patch of grass. Before he removed the fish from the water, it seemed to swim effortlessly against him up and down the stream. The boy struggled to pull the strong and feisty fish for more than 10 minutes.
Nestled in the soft grass next to the boy, it was another story.
The trout was motionless. It’s eyes were fixed and blank. As it gasped for air, it looked — and acted — stupid.
The boy noticed the change and asked his father, “Just a few minutes ago, the fish was moving and alive. Now it seems sad and paralyzed.”
The father paused and reflected, seeing an opportunity.
“Why don’t you try and encourage the fish?” he said. “See how comfortable you sit in the thick grass? Perhaps you can convince the fish that being where it is now is a good thing.”
Seeing how comfortable the grass felt to him, the boy began to tell the fish, “Look at me fish. The grass is soft and comfortable. Look up. The sun is warming my skin. It is warming yours also. Isn’t that nice?”
No movement. No response. No change.
A few more seconds passed. The boy looks up at his father. “It’s not working. Why isn’t the fish happy like I am?”
“You’re right son,” he said reassuringly. “The grass is soft and the sun is warm. Yet, the fish is still unhappy.”
“Why not?” the son replied. After all, he liked the grass. Why shouldn’t the fish?
“You see son,” the father said as he turned to face his son. “Fish weren’t designed to be happy like we are. They are born, raised, and grow in the water. They breathe the water and live in it every day. They are at their best when they are in the water. For a fish to truly live, it must always be in the water. We live out of the water in the air. We are not like the fish. They are not like us. A fish will never be happy away from the water.”
Upon hearing this, the boy quickly picked up the fish and held it in the shallow water. The fish, sensing the change began to come back to life. A swift kick of its tail and the fish was back into the middle of the stream with ease.
The father waited for the boy to return to grass and asked, “Are you done fishing?”
“No. I like fishing, and I want to have one for dinner,” the boy said. “But, I wanted my first catch to be happy where he belongs.”
Do you feel like a fish out of water? Your prolonged dissatisfaction, God-given gifts, passions and the voices of others could be telling you that you were created for another purpose. And like the fish, if you feel paralyzed and overwhelmed when others are telling you to be happy, you might be where you do not belong.
You were called for a purpose and you can never be fulfilled being something that you are not.