In a high school biology class we all learned a little bit about genetics. I’m sure you remember the day you were asked to go home and check the ear lobes of everyone in your family to see whose were attached and whose were not. I remember spending the late afternoon of a school day collecting and recording family genetic data. We all waited anxiously for my dad to come home from work so the family genetic picture could be complete, at least as far as eye color, ear lobes, and rolled tongues were concerned. My first lessons in genetics occurred the summer before my sophomore year, but my understanding of what I’d inherited from my parents did not end with Biology class.
Football season was upon us and I decided to try out for the drill team. I can’t even begin to describe the amount of courage it required for this young girl, with absolutely no confidence in her physical abilities, to show up and learn the audition routine. “Anchors Away My Boys” – I’ll never forget that music. I practiced night and day and wonder of wonders I made the team. This was the kind of team that did a lot of marching and a little dancing. This was just the right kind of team for me. Surely I could march!
That brings me to a genetic trait I had never considered. The first day of practice we marched around the football field for hours after school. It didn’t take very much time to recognize that I was in a lot of trouble. Who could have guessed the grief that four little words could impose on the life of a teenage girl. The words were, “Left Face” and “Right Face.” For some strange reason when the team captain shouted, “left” or “right” it did not come automatically to me to turn, along with all the other girls, according to instructions. After one disastrous day of marching I went home and told my parents that dancing was going to be the least of my worries. The amount of time it took my brain to relay to my marching feet to turn right or left on demand was unacceptable for a precision drill team.
To my great astonishment my dad understood exactly what I was talking about. He told me of his experience marching in the army. “Same Thing!” he admitted. “Genetics!” So that was my problem! The great thing was that my dad had hit upon something that helped him during his army days. “When you are marching just cross your fingers on your right hand. It’s a great little reminder.” Well, it worked like a charm. Now I could do “Left Face” “Right Face” on demand. I don’t know if it was because the distance between my head and my fingers was shorter than the distance between head and my feet or what, but with my fingers crossed on my right hand I never again missed a turn on the football field or the basketball court. All it took was a simple reminder between my brain and my feet.
These memories came back to me the other day as I was thinking about another set of reminders I try to use every day. The struggle to choose between right and left is pretty insignificant when compared with the struggle to choose between right and wrong. I haven’t tried crossing the fingers on my right hand to remind me to choose the right, but I have learned that what helps me most is dedicated prayer, dedicated scripture study, dedicated attendance at meetings, and dedicated service etc., with emphasis on the word “dedicated.” I dedicate my private religious activities to my need for Heavenly Help. These things are no longer things I do so I can check them off or so God will like me. They are invitations to the Lord to help me – to remind me – to allow His Spirit to intervene between His command and my inconsistent ability to follow directions.
With dedicated prayer and study, and a prayerfully made plan for attending meetings and serving others, I’m figuratively crossing my fingers on my right hand. Now my march through this day is more likely to be in line with my Captains call. “Right Face, Right Face, Right Face!”
By Nannette W.
Posted Monday, September 7, 2009
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