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Childhood reflections with a touch of grace: Sharp curves and thick heads

In the years leading up to the glorious day that I learned to ride a bike, I was traveling aboard a trike bike that was large and somewhat odd on the eyes. It reminded me of the old Farmall tractor on my uncle's farm, just without the engine. It came complete with a large tire upfront, a seat wide enough for two butts and two large tires in the back. Between the tires was an impressively large basket that was perfect for holding water balloons, baseballs, gloves, assorted toys and, of course, plenty of snacks.

I made excellent use of this three-wheeled wonder and I kept myself pretty fit as I rolled through the quiet streets of Madison on a daily basis. However, the bike lacked the ability to move very fast, which I found to be very disappointing. So, I set about to find a way to quench my need for speed.

My quest soon ended when I was cruising the elementary school near my home. I was delighted to find a sidewalk that took a devilish dip that then went into a sharp curve. I tried it out a few thousand times and it was great, except for the time it wasn't.

A friend was racing me down the sidewalk one day and I was enjoying a slight lead as we approached the spot where the beloved dip was. Just as I was getting into my Richard Petty pose, my friend bumped my back left tire with his front wheel.

An interesting fact about trike bikes is that they become missile-like projectiles when bumped from behind while moving with much speed, especially if you are attempting to navigate a curve at the same time. In a matter of seconds, I left my Richard Petty persona and became John Glenn, as I proceeded to fly weightlessly through space until I landed headfirst into the brick wall of the cafeteria.

At this point, my imagination dragons had all retreated and I was left just being myself, with a nasty gash on my forehead that bled so profusely that it was difficult to see where I was going. My friend drug my wounded carcus back onto my bike and pushed me home.

My father was not impressed or concerned. Had that been my son rolling up in the yard with his face masked in blood, I would have called the ambulance, fire department, sheriff’s office, Dear Abby and Dr. Phil. Somebody would be doing something quickly. Dad just strolled into the bathroom, while humming "I'll Fly Away" and returned with a damp washcloth, a few bandaids and two aspirins. He blotted my forehead until he was certain of my identity, slapped the bandaids on and gave me the aspirin. He then retreated back to his newspaper, while also encouraging me to take a nap.

It is with great certainty that I can presume that my father was not up to date on concussion protocols, as sleeping through a potentially serious head injury is recommended by no one, ever. However, I am happy to report that I had a great nap that included my dreaming of being Evel Knievel, as he was jumping 10 or 12 school buses on his motorcycle. His undesirable landing matched up nicely with my recent experiences, so the dream was most fitting. He broke several bones. I just lost a race and a pint of blood.

Looking back, I was blessed to not suffer serious consequences from my dad's medical decisions. He meant well, but, a lack of understanding can be deadly in some circumstances. I find that a lack of understanding usually precedes our assumptions about most things.

But, most of our juicy gossip sessions are fueled by assumptions. Can you imagine how quiet we would all be if we only discussed what we were certain of? Can you also imagine how many reputations would still be intact if we were held to that simple rule?

Accompanying most assumptions is it's dastardly cousin, judgment. Get these two together and tales are sure to be told and heads are sure to roll. I recently experienced this first hand, from an otherwise nice gentleman.

He had taken offense with a person he had never met but assumed he could discern their motives without being acquainted with them. Before we start judging him for doing so, we might be better served by remembering all the times we have done the same thing.

After giving him a gentle discourse with my limited knowledge of the person in question, I let him know I respected his right to an opinion other than mine and excused myself. There's a solid reason the Bible says we should "judge not, lest we be judged." Primarily, it is because when we judge others, it is always according to our flesh, which is about as helpful as plugging a leaky dam with bubble gum (see John 8:15). Scripturally, our judgments are wrong as soon as they are formulated because we are guilty of thinking of or doing the very thing we are condemning in others. For this reason and others, we've been commanded to leave the judging to God.

Since we are all lawbreakers, we are best suited to offer others empathy and mercy for their failings. Your moment for needing the same grace is right around the corner, so be mindful of that. Perhaps the next time you are tempted to judge anyone, especially a total stranger, maybe you should place a bandaid over your lips and just take a nap.

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