The missing leg and other object lessons
Nothing gets the attention of six 9 year old girls like a formal Air Force office taking off his titanium leg at the knee, all done whilst during Sunday School. At church. You read that right.
So now you know two things. One, I’m a Sunday School teacher (try not to go running in to the night screaming). Two, I’m all about object lessons. And this one is classic. If I had an object lesson like this for every vice, weakness or temptation in my life, I’d be a saint.
Here’s how it goes down. The lesson: the tie between health and wisdom (yes, for pre-teens. It’s never too early to talk about how caffeine will stick you to the roof of the car, thus requiring a parent to unpeel you off with a set of prongs). As I’m sitting there in the pews, considering the rosemary sprigs I’ve cut from my herb garden (to show how you use it in the belly of a turkey as well as in the stuffing, but can also press it for oils and put it on the muscles in your neck to ease the strain and reduce/eliminate migraine headaches, but really, is that going to be something the kids will remember once they leave?
I see George, a former fighter pilot. A devilishly-handsome man (from the pictures I’ve seen taken 30 years and 100 pounds lighter). I recall when my daughter Porsche was four. We went for a visit to his home. He’d just had his right leg removed above the knee. Her, being four, asked him where it went, just like that. He glanced at me for approval, his look of “can she handle this?” answered by my look of “don’t holding anything back, man, this is life.”
“I ate too much, got fat, lost the circulation in the leg due to diabetes and they had to cut it off.” (Thankfully he skipped over the gout, gangrene and other stuff he said off-line).
My daughter had no issue with information, and when it was followed by his admonition “this is what happens when you eat too much sugar.” My four year-old looked at his non-foot, and the titanium boot sitting nearby and that was that. From that day forward, she has watched every bit of food to go in her mouth, especially sugar. (Thankfully, it only took a few wks for her to figure out what had sugar and what didn’t, the good types and the bad).
So to my original point: wouldn’t it be grand if someone, early on in life, had pointed out some guy and said “and this is what this type will bring,” or a box of melted chocolate saying “this is what will give you headaches and pre-cancerous cells.” Would I have run to or from those things or towards them shrieking ‘bring it on!’
It’s not entirely too late for me though. I watch. I ask questions. I adjust, as painful as it sometimes is, hoping to prevent some future (and entirely preventable) badness.
In the meantime, I was humored to learn that I, myself, was used as an example in my brother’s own seminary class (another version of church) because apparently I made such a mess of my life for a period of time that he wanted to show the teenagers what happens when a person goes off the rails for a period of time (isn’t that what the 20’s are for? and not to justify my slightly questionable decisions, I’m not in jail, nor do I have an Internet video available).
So go ahead. Use me as an object lesson to your desired end. And when you are wondering if you should have that 3rd piece of pumpkin pie, think of George and his missing appendage. Let him be the object so you don’t have to learn the lesson.