My Cookout Lesson

by Jennifer Haynie @JenniferHaynie1

It happened. The party was Wednesday. Our biggest party of the year.

And it was hot, like firecracker hot. Time was running out, and I wanted to finish getting ready because I was hot, sweaty, and plain frustrated at some miscommunication between my husband and me.

I asked him to help me get the coolers. Well, he hadn’t joined me, so I did what a lot of women do. I decided to do it myself, darned the consequences.

Of course, I knocked our camp lantern off, and it broke.

Who cared? I was going to get that cooler down.

I did. Then I loaded it up with four ten-pound bags of ice. Finally, Steve took one for the freezer. I got the cooler with its remaining thirty pounds inside, no problem. Then, I wanted to lift it onto the stand so people could use it.

Without thinking, I did.

Pain zinged through my back. Yep, I’d done something bad to it.

As I lay down on the floor to stretch it, words from one of the weightlifting trainers at my gym came rushing back.

“People don’t hurt themselves lifting weights because they think about foot placement and form before doing it. People hurt themselves in doing other, much smaller things, like picking up dog poo because they don’t think.”

Oh, so true, especially in life.

How many times have we acted before thinking? I have. I’ve said stuff to people, hurtful stuff, before thinking about exactly what I was saying and its impact.

People have lost their jobs because they don’t think before posting derogatory or inflammatory comments on social media.

Spoken anonymously through social media or to a person’s face, words can tear down and stir up anger.

So can actions.

I believe we do so because we think our opinions, our way, is superior to others. This isn’t a conscious thing many times. It’s subconscious.

How can we combat acting before thinking?

We can step out of this instant, fast-food world that we live in. We can take a deep breath, then remember that the person before us is an image-bearer of God. He delights in them.

And then we can release that deep breath and respond differently than our first, knee-jerk reaction.

I know it’s hard. I’ve gotten it wrong a lot more often than I’ve gotten it right, but that’s been changing over the years as I’ve remembered that we humans are all image-bearers of God.

And my back? I’ve been humbled. Thankfully, it’s only sore and getting better every day. For that, I’m very grateful.

And I’m going to make a conscious effort to think about position and form before doing any heavy lifting.

And for my speech and actions? I’ll exercise the same mantra.

Question: When did thinking before acting wind up being painful?

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