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  • Ellen Romer Niemiec

When Your Nets Become Heavy

Today's Readings


In January 2019, my husband and I knew we were ready for a change. We wanted another child and we were ready for new jobs. We knew that there is no perfect timing for anything so we opened all the doors and told God ‘we’ll take what comes our way.’ Over the next 9 months, we moved cities, bought our first house, started new jobs and welcomed our son.


We got everything we wanted! …right? We got jobs that would challenge us, closer proximity to friends and family, and another strong, healthy child. We got everything we wanted! So why did it all feel so hard? Our then 2 year old had a miserable transition into daycare. The jobs didn’t click as we hoped they might. We spent 3 months living with my sister and her new husband, which while as good as you can hope for, was still very difficult. We had to transition health insurance and find new doctors in the middle of a pregnancy. It all felt hard because it was hard.


In my deep moments of doubt that any of the decisions we had made were the ‘right’ ones, in the middle of the night nursing our sweet new baby, I held on to the image of Peter, pulling up heavy and full nets, overflowing with fish that he had been trying all night to catch. And when he gives in that one, last, time, an effort that can only come from the total exhaustion of all efforts and realizing you truly have nothing left to lose- suddenly the bounty is overflowing to the point that the nets will burst. With everything else I was holding could I hold onto the joy of such abundance? Could I hold onto it without ignoring the burning sensation in my hands as I tried not to drop it all back into the water? Could I hold on long enough for help to arrive?


Good doesn’t mean easy. Lifegiving and joy-filled doesn’t mean easy. Full nets are still heavy and they can still threaten to sink your boat as they cut into and callous your hands. Grace and gift can leave your bones and soul chiseled into new forms. But what truly good thing in your life leaves you the same? What deep joy comes without choice and sacrifice?


We had to drop some things back in the water and that’s okay. Having an over abundance doesn’t mean you need everything you catch. The overabundance changed Peter - he left it all to follow Jesus. He found that what he hoped for and begged for didn’t actually measure up to what Jesus offered him. We also found that we didn’t need everything we thought we did. Amid all of it, we found that God brought us our people - old and new - to bring in our nets and sift through what would help us grow - even if it wasn’t easy. God offered us the gift to set down our nets and help others with theirs.


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