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Directions.


Most of my running in circles is the result of not following directions. One rationalization gives some relief in acknowledging such a character flaw---I am joined in that corner by a multitude of men. Evidently the males of our species don't need directions when we travel, when we're assembling that new lawn mower, or trying to master the wonders of the mobile device world. Somewhere in the excuse library is a volume about being logical and therefore bringing a natural sense of order and reason to life's endeavors. So, tell that to Harriet and our children after my monstrous new swing set with the up-side down sliding board. Or, those many short-cuts we've taken enjoying the beauty of our road trips around America.. Or, the chaos of the Ring Doorbell I installed a couple of months ago. Each is a demonstration of life in the complicated lane that added hours of re-do to almost every project. Let me tell you about running in circles!

After forty-six years Harriet has become accustomed to my D.I.Y. handicaps. Most of my around the house easy fixer-up schemes ended up costing us big bucks to complete. The doorbell was the latest fiasco. The TV advertising and promotional material on the packaging guaranteed simple installation. And, it was much easier than I had expected. Trouble is, it didn't work. It was supposed to be a surprise gift for our anniversary. She loved the idea and was thrilled when I started the work, tool kit and all. BTW, when I grab the tool kit, she usually locates the first aid kit. There's going to be blood. Anyway, at the end of the day the doorbell didn't ring, the camera didn't capture any images, and the connection to our mobile devices was blank. So, the next day I asked our neighbor Todd for his insights. He took the instruction booklet and read the bold print at the top of every page: READ THE INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE INSTALLING. OK, the thing was installed and working perfectly twenty minutes later.

What is this thing about following directions? It's a question I've asked myself many times over the years. What in the world gives me, or any other person, the idea that we don't need some instruction and direction navigating life? Are any of us mortals the fount of all knowledge and understanding? Certainly not. So, why in the world will people like me refuse to read and follow directions, whether in traveling to a new location or installing the modern miracle gadgets that will change our lives. Here's a personal reflection----

1. The marketing gurus promote simplicity more than the directions.

It's true, the READ THE INSTRUCTIONS BEFORE INSTALLING is usually bold print, 32px. But, the marketing department has covered the packaging materials in all caps, bold red fonts enclosed in bright colored clouds promoting the simplicity of installation. Their sales acumen has convinced me that it's not all that complicated. Even a young child could install it or get us there, no sweat. Gullible me.

2. Directions are often written in a foreign language.

I'll be a first to admit that language is a personal comfort zone. By that I mean the English language---nouns, verbs, adverbs, whole sentences, and prepositional phrases. Abbreviated sentences about Tab A, lead wires, various insertions, sized bolts and nuts, longitudes, remote roadway numbers, hydrostatic testing, or fitting strength is a little more technical than this business major can interpret. So, the box said it was simple and easy. Why read all that technical mumbo-jumbo?

3. My friends don't need directions. Why should I?

OK, there is an ego thing here too. My best buds are DIY maniacs and I have to give the impression of being one as well. I mean, real men know how to install a fabulous new light fixture or kitchen sink hardware. No, replacing a light bulb or installing a strainer isn't that complicated. But, to read the instructions or follow directions on something so simple is demeaning and unmanly. If it doesn't work after several hours of work just blame the manufacturer. It must have been defective.

OK, laugh it off. It's Friday. Underneath the directions fun is truth. Many of us just don't want to receive advice about the manly arts. And, that's a biblical, spiritual matter. Leave it to Solomon to give us some easy-to-understand teaching here, if we're mature enough to receive it---

Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life.

Proverbs 4: 13, ESV

Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it.

Proverbs 8: 33, ESV

By insolence comes nothing but strife, but with those who take advice is wisdom. Proverbs 13: 10, ESV

Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.

Proverbs 19:20, ESV

Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. Proverbs 26:12, ESV

And, as usual, there are many more, perhaps hundreds. Most of us wouldn't elevate packaging instructions or map directions to the same level as receiving the instruction and life direction from a mature friend or learned mentor. The truth is, however, that people short on instructions and directions may be on the down side of learning. And, maturity is about life-long learning. And, life long learners don't run in circles all the time like people who will not receive directions.

Now, about that new electrical socket....

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