I had to throw him back!

Even before he had him netted and aboard, the captain was saying, “I don’t know, Penny, he’s a biggin’… might be over the limit.”  When the yardstick wouldn’t give an inch, I watched with dismay as my gorgeous 32” oversized redfish was laid aside our Cool Change Fishing Charter and released to swim across the flats of Homosassa, Florida.

Not long after our sad parting a lovely sea trout put an end to my pouting with a deep bend in my rod as he nailed the live bait on the end of my line. Between helping me land a couple of other gorgeous sea trout and two red fish “keepers”, our conversation turned to the importance of telling the truth – even when it hurts.

I personally believe there is no such thing as a “little white lie.” A lie is a lie is a lie.  But I have to admit the lies we remember most are those that have left us feeling conned or with a sense of having been completely betrayed.

With a nod of agreement Captain Chris continued to poll us across the flats and shared the unimaginable story of a woman he knew from Citrus County. Her name was Kelly Johanneson and one day she simply disappeared. For over a month people searched for her and feared the worst when she returned home to friends and family and shared the devastating news she had been at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa being treated for stage IV breast cancer. Immediately, caring people rallied to help meet her medical expenses through Go Fund Me (http://bit.ly/1b8Nro4) and other fundraising projects that took place throughout the county.

Tens of thousands of dollars were collected as Kelly secretly shaved her head, removed her eyebrows and purposefully plucked lashes from her eyelids.  In a truly despicable act of deception, she had faked her cancer and duped an entire community of well-wishers. On the very morning of our expedition she was arrested and charged with organized fraud – a 3rd degree felony.  Everyone in Citrus County was scandalized.

Stories like Kelly’s are beyond sad because they shatter one of the noble ideals that differentiates America from other nations; our common sense of community responsibility, compassion, and genuine desire for the well-being of our neighbors. An exceptional sea of goodwill flows throughout America and, to watch it polluted by the likes of Kelly Johanneson, not only leaves us feeling conned and betrayed, it also leaves us cynical and jaded.  Like the townspeople in the story of the boy who cried wolf, we will only respond to false alarms so many times before we turn a deaf ear to a cry for help. We can lose heart and our desire to lend a helping hand is eroded.

It is not always easy but, as Christians, we are instructed to bounce back from deception.  “Let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.” Galatians 6:9 The “well-doing” we are called to is a manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit: being patient and kind and good and faithful and gentle.  What we will reap?  In the place of warranted anger and frustration – peace and joy.

Don’t allow the “despicable deception” of others cause you to lose heart and begin to fear helping others.

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Cool Change Fishing Charters with Captain Chris Wilkins

Homosassa, Florida


Now, I’d love to hear from you.

How does this story make you feel? What’s your take on lying? Join the conversation by leaving your reply below.

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