Learn From the Burn
This lesson was seared into my memory

We were enjoying a slow, peaceful and beautiful Sunday morning before heading back to our region’s annual camping trip, which we had been forced to leave the night before due to a storm that flooded out our family tent.

Most of my family was in the living room watching television, but my mother and I were in the kitchen cooking. I told Mom that I wanted to help her in the kitchen, but my real motive was that I wanted to be as close to the smell of frying bacon as I could be.

I stood next to my mother as she cooked the meat—the scent was just so enticing. As I inched my way closer to the pan, my mother warned me not to get too close to it.

I was five years old at the time, so the top of my head barely reached over the top of the stove. If I stood on my tiptoes, however, my chin would be just above the edge of the pan. I inched closer to it again. Once again, my mother warned me, and I backed off.

Suddenly, a commotion in the other room caught my mom’s attention, and she left me alone with the bacon—giving me one final warning to stay away from the pan. But now was my chance! I walked up to the stove, rested my hands on the oven handle, and got on my tiptoes. With my chin just barely clearing the lip of the pan, I took in deep breaths of bacon. It was a glorious moment in my young life.

Then that moment ended—I could hear my mother walking back to the kitchen. I lowered my heels in a rush, standing flatfooted instead of on tiptoe. In an instant, I felt an unpleasant burning sensation on the bottom of my chin. I jerked my head back, and immediately held my hands against my burned chin. A pained cry left my throat. My mother rushed in to see what happened. She knew just by my position that I had disobeyed her.

Before she did anything else, my mother inspected the burn to see how bad it was. After examining it, she put some cool-burn gel on it and covered it with a Band-Aid. Then she returned to cooking breakfast. Once all of the food was ready, she dished it up for my father, sister and brother. Then, she returned to the kitchen to have a stern talk with me.

As she corrected me, she explained that I could have done a whole lot more harm to myself than just a burn to my chin. The whole pan could have flipped onto my face and burned me much worse. Then she reminded me of the fifth commandment: “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee” (Exodus 20:12).

This experience taught me that I should always obey my parents. If our parents warn us against something, we should believe and obey them. They have had many more life experiences than we have, after all. They know what is best for us.

If I would have listened to my mother when she warned me about the hot pan, I would have saved myself the pain of a burned chin—plus the embarrassment of having to wear a Band-Aid there. That was the painful price for the lesson I learned from the burn—but at least I got to eat the bacon afterward.