Friday, November 2, 2007

How to Avoid Getting Burned

We had everything we needed for a grand adventure. Or a disaster. I was six years old, Stephanie was seven, and Rudy was eight. We had a magnifying glass, a pile of dead leaves, and a sunny day.

“Let’s build a campfire!” I said.

Stephanie and Rudy looked at me skeptically.

“Oh, I know how to do it. It’ll be fun! My daddy’s a fireman, so I know all about stuff like this,” I boasted.

“Okay. If you’re sure,” they finally consented.

So, we scooted together our pile of leaves, and went searching for twigs, bark, tiny pieces of paper . . . anything that would contribute to our fire. Before long, we had a nice pile, hidden conveniently behind Rudy’s hedges, out of view of neighborhood adults.

Rudy was the first to hold the magnifying glass. After all, he was the oldest, and with age comes privilege. Before long, we saw smoke rising from our little pile. “It’s working!” we cheered.

“My turn,” said Stephanie. Older, yet inches shorter than I was. Smart as a whip, too. “I think if we hold it at this angle, it will . . . “

As she spoke, the smoke gave way to red, glowing embers.

“Look! It’s really working!” I cheered. But Stephanie and Rudy weren’t cheering. “It’s my turn!” I told Stephanie.

She handed me the magnifying glass, but her eyes showed concern. Doubt.

Rudy spoke up. “I don’t think this is such a good idea.”

“Oh, it’s fine. I know about fires, because my daddy is – “

“Does your daddy know you’re doing this?” Rudy stood his ground.

“He doesn’t care. He trusts me,” I lied angrily. “Besides, you’re doing it too.” Deep down, I knew Rudy was right. I was in over my head. But rather than admit it, I just kept going. I held up the magnifying glass, and suddenly, Poof! Up came the flames. We had a full-out fire on our hands.

Have you ever found yourself in a bad situation, and didn’t know how to get out of it? Perhaps you over committed yourself. Or perhaps you made a promise you couldn’t keep. All too often, when this happens, we avoid the issue. We lie. We find reasons to be angry at the people around us, blaming them for our situation. We do everything but the right thing. And before we know it, things are blazing out of control.

When we find ourselves in bad situations, we should just admit it! Rather than lying, or cheating, or acting irresponsibly, or getting angry, we should just seek out the people who can help us, and tell them the truth. A little humility goes a long way, and very often the person we are dealing with has found him/herself in a similar situation. Perhaps they’ll understand, and will try to help us. While we should always try to honor our commitments and be true to our word, we need to be honest with ourselves and others, and admit when we’re in over our heads. In so doing, we’ll keep ourselves, and others, from getting burned.

Rudy took off running toward my house. Stephanie and I stood speechlessly watching the fire grow larger and larger. Within moments, my daddy was there, stepping on the flames with his big boots, and soon all was safe. He sent Rudy and Stephanie home. As for me . . . well, let’s just say it didn’t take long for him to get to the bottom of things. And my bottom was sore for a long, long time.

Proverbs 6:2 - 3 “If you have been trapped by what you said . . . go and humble yourself.”

1 comment:

Judi "Jlo" Moran: said...

What a great story!
You could become as famous as Aesop with these fable/parables!
'Cept I think yours are even more colorful. You are such a master at creating natural, real dialogue.
So true about the humbling stuff when we get in over our heads.
And loved the "bottom of things" line.
Love,
Jlo