Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Side effects

“For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?” -Luke 14:28

I've noticed lately that my eyes are extremely dry, my lips are cracking, and my hands are chapped. Yes, it's winter when heaters are running and moisture scarce, but I just generally feel like I'm shriveling up. So, I went to the absolute expert source of information on anything: the Internet. Of course, I'm kidding. The information on the Internet needs to be verified, but I did go to Web MD, and it said that, "extreme body dryness can be a side effect of allergy medication." I do take medication for my allergies and the advantages of my medication outweigh the side effects. Most life decisions have advantages and disadvantages. A part of maturity is weighing out the factors and an important part of parenting is teachings our kids how to weigh carefully.

The medications that commercials feature show talented actors explaining how wonderful the meds are and the major lifestyle change that comes with taking their product. Then, at the end of the sell, comes the bombshell. The narrator’s voice lowers and kicks into fast-forward as he describes the potential side effects of the medication. "This medication is known to stunt growth, cause death and to occasionally cause your eyeballs to fall out of their sockets." Then, the beautiful actors come back on the screen, all smiles and energetic.

Then, it’s choice time. Do I take the meds and reduce the discomfort caused by my ailment or do I find alternative ways to deal with the illness without risking the side effects?

In the Fall of 1975, I was faced with a tough decision: where to go to college. I had three older brothers who preceded me to college. One went to S.M.U. and the other two went to T.C.U., in my hometown, Fort Worth. I had followed my brothers step by step. I wore the clothes they wore (literally), I drove the car they passed down to me and I played the sports the played. I was torn about where to go.

That Fall I made some college visits and one peculiar visit was to Waco, Texas to see Baylor University. I’d never been to Waco, (we weren’t southern Baptist, we were Methodist), and I’d never known much about Baylor, except they were terrible in football. But that Friday visit was awesome and I was sold. It wasn’t too far from Fort Worth (2 hours) and deep inside I was ready to be Joey Staples, not “little Staples.”

I discussed the decision with my mom and dad and they said I should “weigh out the options.” As they usually did, they left the decision up to me. Though they helped me weigh out the advantages and disadvantages, they let me make the decision. I’m certain they had opinions about it all, but they knew that a part of me growing up was growing in decision making.

Baylor is tough academically. Check. The campus is beautiful and friendly. Check. Your brother is at Baylor finishing his Masters degree. Check. Waco isn’t Fort Worth. Check. Baylor has a soccer team. Check. Baylor has a Christian foundation. Check-check. You don't know many people at Baylor. Check. Baylor is expensive. Check. We weighed it all out and I made the decision to go. It was a good one.

I weighed it all, took the medicine called Baylor, side effects and all, and it worked. God used that education to grow me up. Help your kids make their decisions, but be careful not to make their decisions for them. Don't be a control freak. Let them own it, even if you disagree.

After all, their eyeballs probably aren't going to fall out.

By Eric Joseph Staples ©

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