Our granddaughter is almost eight months old now and is beginning to imitate other’s actions such as waving bye and attempting to move her finger up and down across her lips while making noises; she prefers her entire fist though, resulting in a saliva fest. It seems our entire life is spent either following someone else’s example or being a role model for someone else to follow.
I remember growing up during my influential years in the 1960’s and 70’s where everyone seemed to be expressing one’s self in different ways. Smoking was one of those things taken for granted and a lot of my family participated in this freedom to inhale toxic fumes.
Living in the country afforded a few freedoms as well. For instance, the freedom to burn trash in the open air. Being the imitator as a kid but without having the means to try smoking with an actual cigarette, I found some dry hollow reeds down along the creek bank by the square brick burning pit while I was burning trash one day. The gray-white fibers of the reeds resembled the white paper of the cancer stick. I decided I wanted to look and act as cool as my older siblings so I broke off a four inch section of the reed and put the tip of the “cigarette” in the flames until the end glowed red from the embers. I put the imitation cigarette to my mouth like I had seen others do many times before and inhaled.
What happened next was nothing less than life changing. Small flames entered my throat along with smoky air, singeing my esophagus in the process. My eyes grew wide from the pain as well as the smoky pungent smell of burning reed racing down my lungs. I involuntarily coughed uncontrollably, the blackish gray smoke bellowing out as if more anxious to rise to the surface than I was to get it out so I could breathe again. I stood there, continuing to cough violently as well as mentally kicking myself across the yard. I desperately glanced in all directions to see if anyone else had witnessed the blatant stupidity of a young boy trying to imitate the foolishness of others.
Fast forward more than a couple of decades and I find myself once again in the present, hopefully much more wiser and aware of the consequences of imitating others or following someone’s example without first analyzing and reasoning out their intentions and possible negative outcomes. However, I am greatly concerned and have been for some time that it seems many blindly follow and imitate the latest trends, fads, popular people in the spotlight, and yes, even governmental politics bent toward entitlement and socialism without first stepping back for even a split second to think of the eventual consequences of said blind following.
Don’t you think it is past time to be the responsible, accountable “grown-ups” we are supposed to be and pray to again become the examples of those growing up around us? And before you judge me for seemingly being such a self-righteous hypocrite, brandishing my pistol of one-sided opinions, may I remind you that I only write what is on my heart that God is also speaking to me; I’m certainly aware of my own shortcomings—and I need help.
Ephesians 5:1-2(ESV) reads, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” What an awesome reminder of whom we should imitate constantly in thought, word, and deed so we have a chance to be that example others are looking for to follow. And now that I find myself in the position of tribal elder in our little family nucleus, I am once again reminded of the grave responsibility we have as humans to impress upon our next generation not only the common courtesies and manners of life, the do’s and don’ts that separate the civilized from the savages but especially the eternal. For it is only through the grace of God that we are still here, breathing on this earth and it is only by His mercy through His son Jesus Christ that we have a hope for a future far better than our present circumstances.
The next time you see a child doing something they shouldn’t, even to the point of foolishly ingesting noxious fumes from a weed, fight the inner adult child within that wants to sit back and see what happens so you can be entertained, and use this as a time of instruction, of lovingly guiding that student on to a better path of wisdom and understanding. And remember, those eyes are on you whether you want them to be or not, imitating your every move; make the most of it.
Proverbs 14:12 (ESV)—There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.