Aiden, my fish, is dead. When I arrived back in Louisville, Kentucky I unlocked my door, turned on the light, dropped my baggage (physical, not emotional), and turned around to feed my betta. I was shocked when I saw him sideways on the bottom of the tank. His left gill was still moving (it was the one pointed toward the surface), but he looked so pitiful, leaned so far over I thought he missed his V8 that morning. He's three, which is like a hundred and five in betta years. He's had a nice full life, so I decided to put him out of his misery. I lifted him up out of the tank, gently placed him in his porcelain casket, and flushed him away to the hereafter.
After saying a quick prayer, I returned to my room where I began to unpack. It was then that I realized how cold my dorm room was. I had left the heat off while I was in Nash-Vegas, and the room was as cold as the outdoors. Then it hit me. I checked the water and it was downright frigid. It's not that Aiden was about to die...it's just the water was so cold.... I did some research and discovered that had the water been heated up again, Aiden could have made it.
The cold, hard surface of reality then hit: I killed my friend, Aiden! I am a murderer.
Had I taken the time to look at the situation more fully, I would have realized what had happened instead of jumping to conclusions. Unfortunately, being a guy, I acted before I thought, and I am left staring at an empty tank above my desk filled with water and memories.
The moral of the story: think before you act or even speak. If there's one thing God has taught me in the past two years (hopefully this will be the last lesson), it is this: Be slow to speak, slow to act and slow to anger (James 1:19). We need to think before we do things and say things. Otherwise we often regret what happens. Hurtful words and actions are often the children sired out of impulsive behavior. I am a master of sticking my foot in my mouth--just ask any of the women at the Song of Solomon study a year ago. I don't mean to say something so stupid or embarrassing, but I just blurt it out without thinking. Thankfully, after many painful experiences, I am learning to think before I speak. Maybe after this experience, I will learn to think more before I act. Probably not.
Can you imagine what life would be like if more believers were less impulsive toward speaking, acting and to anger? What if we thought how what we do and say affects the Kingdom of God? I'm not advocating the return of WWJD apparel, but what I am advocating is that we think and consider how the words we speak and actions we take affect others and the Kingdom. We need to pull ourselves out of our compartmentalized, uberpersonal lives and concern ourselves with others. We need to be more community and Kingdom driven Christians! Our lives are not our own, but Christ's because of the enormous price that was paid. If we act and speak before thinking we may not commit murder, but we may hurt another brother or sister or hinder the cause of Christ in some way.
I pray each of you had an awesome Christmas, and as the new year approaches, may we each learn from our mistakes and not repeat them. May we all be slow to speak and slow to anger! May each of us be Kingdom Christians who are concerned about community--building up the body of Christ and expanding His Kingdom!
until Christ is formed in us...
Dedicated to Hubert Aiden Hilliard, February 2001-December 26 2004
"He was not just my fish...he was my friend."