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Today, I wanted to just sit and chat with you. I hope you have your cuppa joe handy so that we can sip our coffee (or tea) and get to know one another better!
I have a question I wanted to ask. Are you a rule follower or a rule breaker?
I’m a rule follower.
If you know me in real life, you know my answer! I am a rule follower–almost to a fault sometimes. If someone tells me the way a thing should be done, I’m always scared to go out on a limb and try it another way. Seriously.
Back in December, we made Jesse Tree ornaments as a group of ladies at the church. My instructions specifically stated one way to do the craft. My table neighbor said, “Hey! I think if you do the ribbon this way it’ll not only look better, but be a bit easier.” Ya’ll, I struggled with that thing! I didn’t want to hurt our leader’s feelings by not doing it her way, but the other way did make sense. Ultimately, I did take some liberty with the craft and it was fine. But, in my heart of hearts, I follow the rules–I want to–so it bothered me to change it up even a little bit.
I think it comes from wanting to please others and fear of getting in trouble. My mom was a true Southern woman. She meant what she said, and she said what she meant. You didn’t have to wonder. And she didn’t play games. I knew what the consequences were for disobedience and rule breaking. They were not consequences I cared to endure. My daddy? I was afraid to disappoint him or to cross him. All he had to do was give me “that look”–you know the one.
So I minded my p’s and q’s as best as I could. To be transparent, I did let my parents and lots of others around me down at times. I was not a perfect kid, but I wanted people to think I was. Therefore, I minded my manners, obeyed my elders, and followed the rules.
The day I learned the cost of cheating
Any time I consider doing what I’m not supposed to do, I go back to a day I remember very clearly. I was “running” cross country. I quote running because I rarely did more than jog, and mostly walked, but it was required for varsity basketball players to “run” cross country.
That was back in the day of long dirt roads and hopping into the back of pick-up trucks, which is exactly what I did with at least a half a dozen teammates. Only, moments after hopping in, my conscience got hold of me, and I regretted the decision. However, our nice driver, whom I did not know, would not stop to let me out. In that moment I decided that I would make right my decision to cheat, and I chose to jump out of the moving truck onto the dirt road below.
Admittedly, the truck was not going very fast, as it was on a dirt road, but the impact was still pretty shocking. I can honestly say, I’ve never seen that much blood in my life. Oh, I was fine, but my nose took an awful hit, and my pride? It tanked. Not only had my peers, many of them friends, watched me cheat and get in the truck, but they also watched me make a nasty jump resulting in the bloodiest nose I have ever witnessed. The soiled shirt I had to wear to the finish line, where I met my coach, was shame around my neck. I’m quite certain it went in the trash before my parents got home that day.
What I learned
To this day, I cringe when I think of that day on the cross country trail, all these years later. God has a sense of humor, though. We live only about two miles down the once dirt road where I learned a very valuable lesson. I can still remember the spot in the road. The shame I felt. The guilt for cheating. I feel it every time I pass that way.
I’ve never really lived it down. Every now and then, one of my old teammates will say, “Hey, Bean, remember that time you jumped out of that truck on the cross country trail?”
All I can do is chuckle and hang my head. I’m certain I blush just a tad even 22 years later. What I learned was that rules do protect us. And cheating? Well, it’s at some point going to catch up to you in some way. Ultimately, it’s just not worth it. I’d rather plug along, honestly working and battling my way through the trenches than to cut corners so that I can coast. Coasting sounds good; I even dream about it sometimes, but I know the cost of coasting when you got there by cheating.
There are most definitely lessons in the trenches; ones that I need to learn. I know that I am who I am today in part because that my bloody nose experience; I know that without experiences, life just isn’t the same.
Therefore, I’m going to follow the rules, jog the trail, plug along, knowing that in the end, I will finish.
***Please don’t confuse rule breaking with efficiency. They are definitely not the same thing. Efficiency is me modifying that ribbon to make it easier to work with; cheating is me hopping into the back of a truck to coast to the finish line. As moms, we all need to be efficient, always figuring out ways to streamline our tasks. Remember: finding a better way isn’t breaking the rules.***