Life Lessons is a weekly series about wisdom gathered from life experience, lessons learned the hard way, moments of If I Knew Then What I Know Now, and revelations of Oh, They Did Know What They Were Talking About.
Some lessons I only need to learn once. Others I’m taught over and over before I finally get it.
One lesson I’ve really learned the hard is:
Always go with your gut reaction is another, if less eloquent, way of putting it.
I can think of a hundred examples going back over many years of times I ignored my instincts, went down a different path, and ended up regretting it.
When I was six years old I broke my ankle on the playground at recess.
My first grade class had a favorite game where the girls chased the boys around just to annoy them. The boys were deathly afraid of contracting cooties from us. The boy I was pursuing ran up the slide. I went up after him. When I got to the top instead of going down the slide properly, I decided to try and head him off by going down the support pole firemen-style.
I made it down the pole OK, but when I landed my feet smacked the cement foundation that was holding the pole in the ground. I hit it hard enough that I ended up with a hairline fracture right in the growth spot of one of my ankles.
I spent the next six weeks wearing a cast up to my hip, and being pushed around in a wheel chair. The doctors were afraid the bone wouldn’t heal right, and stunt the growth of my ankle. So to ensure that wouldn’t happen they did everything they could to immobilize me. Not an easy thing to do with a six year old.
I distinctly remember pausing for a brief moment at the top of the slide, and having the ominous feeling that I was about to do something I would regret. Still, down I went.
I continued for years plunging head-long into things, even though I had an inkling that I shouldn’t. Even now when I absolutely should know better I still sometimes ignore my own advice, and that Little Voice In My Head.
Breaking my ankle was not life-altering, although I was a pretty miserable 1st Grader for a month and a half.
I can think of an instance when I followed my instinct, and changed the course of my life.
It almost never even went on a date with the man who became my husband.
But I woke up in my college dorm room one morning, and sat straight up in my bunk bed, because I was so startled by the strong impression that if I didn’t give Dave a chance I was going to miss out something big.
12 happy years and 2 great kids later, thank goodness I went with my instinct that time.
So maybe you think I’m a little crazy. What are these “instincts” that I speak of?
Well, I’m not talking about ESP, psychic premonitions or the ability to predict the future.
I don’t really know what they are.
As Christian I think sometimes those instincts and feelings are God speaking to me. Other times I think maybe it’s just my subconscious mind putting two and two together that my conscious mind can’t for some reason. And sometimes I think it’s just a mystery.
I do know must of us have these instincts and gut reactions. And based on personal experience, I know that it’s usually best to follow them.