The Moments of Leniency Matter

Jimmy Carter was fishing with his father. He’s but ten years old and he adores his stern and gruff old man. As they catch fish, his father would attach them to a trotline that he hooked on Jimmy’s belt loop, much to the boy’s pride. 

But then, one moment late in the afternoon, Jimmy looks down and realizes they’re all gone. Frantically, desperately, he dives into the water as he searches for them, but to no avail. “What’s wrong?” his father asks. “I’ve lost the fish, Daddy.” All of them? his father replied. “Yes, sir, yes sir,” was all Jimmy could say through the tears, as he continued to search the water. 

“Daddy was rarely patient with foolishness or mistakes,” Carter would reflect eighty years later. But after a long pause, his father just said, “Let them go, Hot. There are a lot more fish in the river. We’ll get them tomorrow.” All those years later, it was the moment of patience and kindness and forgiveness that Carter remembered. The fish no longer mattered, in fact, they never did matter. What mattered was that his father knew what Jimmy needed in that moment. 

But what about you? Do you understand the power of leniency and tolerance? Do you know when it’s time to push and when it’s time to pull them in close to you? Can you let things go? Can you control your temper and frustrations? Can you remember what it’s like to be a kid, how hard it is, how easy it is to mess up? 

If you can’t now, you must soon. Because if you don’t…they’ll remember that forever too.

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