When I was 19 years old, I injured my ankle. Badly. I was playing volleyball in someone's backyard without any shoes on (much to the consternation of my mother). I came down wrong, turned my ankle over and heard a loud "pop."
Since that time, I've had three surgeries to correct the injury. The last surgery was a total ankle reconstruction, where the doctor cut down stretched ligaments on the outside of my ankle and reattached them, fixed a shredded tendon and removed bone chips from the joint.
I say all of that to say this: My ankle will never be the same. It hurts me nearly every single day. If I run on it even a short distance, the pain is overwhelming a few hours later. It will often go out on me with no warning.
That's where I found myself one day. My ankle was out, the pain was bad and I was hobbling through the house until I could either get it loosened up enough to pop back into place, or until it just worked back into place on its own.
The next day at school, Cole couldn't walk. His teachers thought he'd sprained his ankle while on the playground. My first thought was that he was going to be cursed with ankles like mine. I told them I'd call the doctor and see if I could bring Cole in. In the meantime, they should ice his foot.
While I was waiting for the doctor's office to call me back, they laid Cole and his class down for a nap. When Cole woke up a little while later, he was miraculously healed!
As it turns out, he'd been faking his injury the whole time.
No, scratch that. He'd been imitating his daddy the whole time.
Whoa, what a sobering thought!
It reminded me of that country song where the little boy tells his father he'd been watching him and learning things from his example. It made me realize that Cole is watching me and learning from my example, too. So what kind of example should I be setting?
In the book of Ephesians, we're told to be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1). This is a broad statement, though. How do we imitate God? By imitating the things that characterize God's nature: love, peace, mercy and grace (that's not an exhaustive list, by the way).
As we imitate God in these ways, we're also setting an example for our children to follow. That way when they imitate us, they're actually imitating our heavenly father.
So be imitators of God.
And wear shoes whenever you play sports.
Parrish Myers is a local minister. His column appears every other week in Sunday Life and on gainesvilletimes.com.