Reading the Directions – Why Must I Learn the Hard Way?

Reading the Directions – Why Must I Learn the Hard Way? July 20, 2017

Have you ever ignored the instructions, not even bothering to read them? Call it pride. Call it over-confidence. Sometimes you call it stupid. Read on about a lesson I learned the hard way.
decisions, read the instructions

Photo by Jordan McQueen via Unsplash

A couple of years ago I sustained some injuries to my hands. And I have no one else to blame but me.

You see, I make a living with my fingers, typing the day away creating corporate communications – a magazine, an electronic newsletter, a blog and other written material.

I value my digits – all of them. “I need to protect them.”

To relieve stress, I love to work around the home. I recently tackled a stone project. When my hired help didn’t show on the first day, I figured I would save the money and do the work myself. “How hard can it be?”

I mixed the bags of Quikrete with water poured from an old tin can in a wide plastic tub I had. Soon, I began  placing the stones, one at a time, scooping wet mortar on the backs of the rocks so they would stick to the backing. “Easy.”

The mortar was kind of like mud, so I got to relive my inner boy, playing with dirt again. It was soft and pliable. The rocks were smooth. After an hour or so, I noticed how parched my hands began to look – puckered up like I had been in the bath too long. So I slid gloves on and continued work. “It will be okay.”

At the end of the day, I pulled my gloves off and instantly I knew something was wrong in rock paradise. Both of my thumbs and 6 of the remaining fingertips were rubbed raw. I had  burned the flesh right off and the red glowing stubs were suddenly alive. “I’m in trouble here.”

For two weeks the agony of the sensitive tips reminded me of my stupidity. I banged, poked and irritated them at every juncture as I tried to live a normal life.

While recovering, I (finally) decided to read the instructions on the side of the bag.

Read the Directions“When working with fresh concrete, care should be taken to avoid skin irritation or chemical burns…abrasive to bare skin…alkaline in nature…caustic…harmful…Waterproof gloves should be worn.”

That explains a lot. “If only I would have read them,” I wistfully thought as I look down at my fingers wrapped in gauze and bandages. A little research on the would have echoed the warnings. There is even a YouTube video.

For days, I was reminded that not only I didn’t follow the directions, but I didn’t even bother to read them. And I  paid dearly.

This is a pattern in my life. I didn’t always follow the instructions to “not exasperate my children,” “to love my wife as Christ loved the church,”  to be “patient with others”, or to “cling to the truth.” And I paid the price.

Not only didn’t I follow the instructions, I didn’t even seek them out.

Stubborn. Prideful. Full of my own self-knowledge, I have been burned and felt the pain of disobedience…

“Read the Directions” When will I ever learn?


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