Jay Lenkersdorfer

Each one of us has events from our past where we didn’t necessarily make the best choices. These events might have helped give us the resolve we needed to overcome a bad decision or at least not to make the same mistake twice.

I often wonder how my parents raised ten children without breaking our spirit with endless rules and structure. I think much of this was done by simply being naïve about what we were doing. To a certain point I don’t think they wanted to know everything, preferring instead to hang back in the shadows quietly pretending all was well.

One of my favorite experiences as a teenager was arriving home from my two morning jobs and hearing my mom tell me that she hadn’t heard me leave for work that morning

When our oldest son went to flight school to become an Army Blackhawk Helicopter pilot he had to go through a series of tests to see if he could cope in difficult situations. One such event was survival training where he had to endure the hardship of being out in the field with little gear and no support. After that time there was some additional training he was subjected to that he will not tell us about. We had heard stories from other parents of soldiers so we kind of had an idea about it without being told about it.

On one hand I was kind of bummed out that he wasn’t giving us the full story, but when we found out that he wasn’t allowed to talk about his experiences due to Army restrictions, I understood it better. My wife had absolutely zero interest in knowing about survival training, preferring instead to pretend it didn’t happen.

When our son, Aaron, was living in Russia we had mixed feelings about how much of his living situation we wanted to know about. Again, there were always stories going around about the things that happen to missionaries in Russia that terrified us but in the end the only thing we could do was to have faith that he would use good judgment when crazy terrible things were happening.

Once he was back in the United States he was willing to tell us more, but he never has come clean with everything he encountered. Maybe it’s just a lot of talk to create more wonderment and awe on our behalf. We’ll never know for certain.

There are times when talking with our doctors we think we want to hear everything but when it comes right down to it, we don’t. Some years ago when we were living in Iowa, I became friends with a man who had just one leg. He had been a truck driver and one day as he was offloading grain from a belly dump trailer the grain began to clump. Having fixed this problem a hundred times before, he took a broom handle and began to break up the clumps.

What he could not see was that the previous driver had removed the steel grates that protect people from the auger. As he was working on the clumps his lower leg became entangled in the auger and his lower leg was torn from his body. He was fortunate that help came and he was able to get to a hospital.

Over the next few weeks the doctors fought to save as much of his leg as possible but infection continued to climb up what remained of his leg. Each revision surgery took three more inches off his leg ending only when the leg was separated right at the hip joint. Having been through a bunch of morning discussion with his doctor he finally asked, “Give it to me straight doctor, how am I doing.”

He was not prepared for the answer. “Actually, you could easily lose your life to this infection,” said his doctor. “You would think I was prepared to hear this news”, my friend said, “but I was not. Why would my doctor tell me something like that? He should have lied.”

It isn’t every day that a person would be faced with such news – that he could die – and even though he thought he wanted the truth, it was the last thing he was seeking at the time.

So ask yourself this simple question the next time something important comes your way . . . do you really want to know?

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