As September was sliding into October, my family made a trip to my uncle’s cabin on a lake. We usually went during the summer when the water was warm and crystal clear enough to see white sand. I spent hours floating on an air mattress, letting the waves gently rise and fall around me. An occasional boat would zip by pulling a water skier, or a slow pontoon would motor near, full of people who would raise their drinks to say hello.
This time, crisp breezes were beginning, the sun was losing its zeal, and leaves were starting to fall. So there was no swimsuit and towel to pack. I wasn’t looking forward to going because without the option to swim, there wasn’t too much to do.
The drive was always a marathon to endure, and I was not given any option but to sit directly next to my brother. At home, I avoided him as much as I could, so to spend hours in close proximity was a test of my patience.
He could do sound effects of everything, and he did it accurately. Did I say repeatedly? If we were waiting for my dad to put gas in the car, and another vehicle would start up next to us, he could mimic the engine’s sound before the driver turned the key. He absolutely adored this about himself.
Most of all, he was so impressed that he could produce the sound of a mosquito better than the real thing. And he loved to do this very near to my ear to make me think I was under attack..especially when I was trying to read. If I had a book in my hand, which I always did, this was his cue to find a way to disturb me.
To say I was always happy to get out of the car is an understatement. He had a short attention span, so he thought I was a great diversion from his boredom. Before the station wagon was stopped entirely on the gravel drive, I was opening the door to free myself from his presence.
I helped unpack the car, mainly a hospital supply of first aid choices because my mom was an RN. Any medical emergency that cropped up would immediately be taken care of. From calamine lotion to a tourniquet, she had it along.
My brother made a beeline for the water with his fishing rod. To stay away from him longer, I chose to sit with the adults, and it didn’t last long.
As I got up to leave, my dad asked,
“Where are you going?”
“Down by the lake.”
“Don’t fall in.”
I was at an age where his overprotective comments didn’t appeal. I was in fourth grade and fully capable of maintaining my balance, so why was he treating me like a newborn?
He flashed me a smile which only irritated me more.
As I opened the screen door, I said over my shoulder,
“Do you think I’m stupid or something? I’m not going to fall in!”
And with my bratty attitude, I let the door slam behind me. I heard him say,
“Just don’t fall in!”
Why I went down by the dock he was fishing off is a mystery to me, and I must have been highly bored to subject myself to more of his horrible interpersonal skills.
For once, he was quiet, and I stood on the shoreline picking up rocks and small shells. I saw him jerk his line and start to reel. He pulled a fish from the water and went about taking it off the hook.
“Look at this! Come here!”
What else was there to do to pass the time? I hesitantly walked onto the dock to see what was such a big deal. There wasn’t anything special; he just wanted me to watch him put it into the floating bucket. How exciting!
He turned back to what he was doing, and I looked into the somewhat murky water. I saw small fish swimming near, darting back and forth. The waves were coming in heavier as the wind began to pick up. Hypnotized by what I was seeing and not realizing how off balance I was becoming, much to my surprise, I hit the water face first as I fell in!
I surfaced, gasping for air. My brother slowly turned to see the look of surprise on my face, and he looked just as shocked.
“Chris, are you okay?” He actually mustered up genuine concern.
I didn’t answer at first because all I heard was my dad’s words ringing in my ears and what I had said. I just stood there soaking wet in a heavy fall turtleneck and jeans.
“Are you going to cry?”
And that’s as far as his compassion ran. He threw back his head and howled like a rabid dog.
“You fell in! That is so hilarious!”
He didn’t offer to help me out of the water because he was too weak from finding my predicament so funny. I sloshed over to dry ground and considered my dilemma.
I wanted to run away from him, but I didn’t want to face the music back at the cabin.
My hair was hanging in strings, and my shoes and socks were heavy. Every time he looked my way, instead of feeling bad, he clutched his stomach and doubled over in glee with his whole body convulsing.
I wished I hadn’t said what I did to my dad. But I couldn’t take this anymore. I got up and made the long, squishy walk back.
I considered not going in right away to see if I would dry out, but it wasn’t summer anymore, and I was so uncomfortable. I had no choice.
The door squeaked loudly, announcing my arrival. I stood in the doorway dripping. All eyes were on me.
My mom was the first to speak,
“Chris! What happened to you? You are soaking wet!”
It was pretty obvious what had occurred, but she forced me to say it.
“I fell in.”
As if scripted, the entire room erupted much the same as my brother had. Not a single soul felt my pain.
My mom grabbed a towel and handed it to me. I wanted to put it over my head and hide because I knew what was coming next.
“So, Chris, do you remember what you said on your way out of here?” My dad asked.
Of course, he knew I knew.
“Didn’t you say: Do you think I’m stupid or something?”
It was so humiliating, but I couldn’t take it back.
“Yes, I said it,” trying to dry my hair.
“Pride comes before the fall,” he replied.
I had no clue what that meant, but the subject got changed, and so did my clothes. From then on, I learned that when he said something, I tried to conceal my pre-teen eye-roll at least. While his unnecessary concerns still drove me nuts, I didn’t ever want a repeat performance of what happened at the lake.
In this passage, some valuable information is offered in Proverbs 15:31-32:
Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise.
Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding. (NLT)
Who likes to be corrected? No one. Ever. But, something is to be gained when it does happen; we learn something about ourselves that we can change for the better. It brings us up higher spiritually so mistakes made in the past can be erased and forgotten.
I had dismissed my dad’s prophecy as ridiculous, but what if I took it seriously? God is speaking to us all the time, whether we want to admit it or not. We are offered protection and can receive it if we incline our ears to hear warnings and instructions from above. What trouble could be avoided if we just took the time to listen versus rushing ahead dismissing that part of our lives? It just might keep us from getting into deep water.