There are many lessons that I have not learned well or easily in my life to date but there is one that I have known the importance of even as a child. It is the lesson that our actions today can surely cause us to have deep regret later on in our life. This truth was evidenced so clearly in an article that I read yesterday about a young teenaged girl who decided to have three stars tattooed on her face. Something went terribly wrong however, and when the whole procedure was complete, she was looking at her face in the mirror that was showing a total of fifty-six stars staring right back at her instead of the intended number of three. This girl’s version of what occurred is that she had asked the tattoo artist to put just three stars on her face, however she fell asleep and when she awoke , she was shocked and aghast to find that the left side of her face was displaying almost twenty times the number of tattoos than what she had planned on having.

 

        I have a difficult time with her story for a variety of reasons, the first being that I have always heard and read that tattooing is a painful process and not one that folks sleep through when they are the object of the tattooing. Dozing off while your face is having fifty-six tattoos carved into it simply does not seem plausible or realistic in any way. The tattoo artist himself supports my skepticism by refuting what the girl is saying. He claims that she requested the number of tattoos that she received, even checked on the progress from time to time and gave permission for the entire procedure. I have no way of knowing of course who is telling the truth however, as I am not close enough to the situation to know and therefore not qualified to make that judgment. The news segment that carried the story was heartbreaking to say the least. It showed this young girl whose face is ravaged with these dark tattoos over the entire left side of her face and her anguish over what she let happen to herself. I am not trying to sound unkind but frankly, she was once was very pretty, but now looks hideous. She is seen standing in front of a mirror crying as she speaks about being ashamed to go out in public. She is now comtemplating having the tattoos removed, however because of the great number of tattoos and also the texture of facial skin, there is a good chance that there possibly would be severe scarring after the removal. Suffice it to say, this young lady is learning the hard lesson of having regrets in a very stark and sorrowful fashion.

 

      This story of this young girl is an extreme and clear cut example of the consequences that we all can suffer when we plunge ahead with certain actions without pausing to consider the ramifications of our behavior. Her story is one that pounds home this truth because of the visual contrast in her beauty before her actions and then afterwards. Life itself however, is not always so crude and simplistic. It is not often reduced to a before and after reflection in a mirror in which the consequences are so plain, so black and white. Usually life presents situations that require much thought and consideration before we make crucial choices. Often, what we are faced with are circumstances and dilemmas that encompass many factors that sway our decisions. Emotions such as selfishness and pride or perhaps inexperience and immaturity can cloud our ability to make a correct choice which in turn can cause much regret in the future.

 

        I am reminded of an event that was also in the news about ten years ago. This particular story had such a profound impact on me that I have not forgotten it and think about it from time to time especially when I am driving. It involved a group of seniors in high school in rural Ohio who were all due to graduate the following week. The group consisted of three guys and three girls who were close friends and had all known one another since grade school. Spirits were high and they were giddy and excited about their upcoming graduation as they all piled into a car one evening to get some ice cream. Not one kid in the group had ever been into any sort of trouble either in school or with the law. They were all honor students and athletes and four out of the six had been recognized by the community as “ Who’s Who” amongst high school students across the nation. They had been raised well, were all from caring and devoted families who wanted only the best for their children. After they left the local Dairy Queen and were headed home, one of the boys impulsively jumped out of the car at a stop sign. He coaxed the two other boys who were also in the car to join him in pulling the stop sign out of the ground and tossing it a few feet away where it laid flat on the ground. Not to be outdone, the girls who were laughing about the boys antics, all jumped out of the car and did the exact same thing to the very next stop sign a few miles further down the road. They then piled back into the car all joking and carrying on, singing along with the radio as they took off in the car. The next morning the entire town was rocking from the news of two collisions that claimed the lives of three different people because of those exact stop signs not being in place. I don’t remember the details of how they were apprehended, but all six were arrested and charged within three days of that fateful night in which these kids impulsively made one of the worst decisions of their lives. I remember the news segment showing all six being led into a court room with leg shackles, hand cuffs, and orange jump suits. The reason the story so affected me is that I vividly recall those shocked and panic stricken expressions on those kids faces as they were trudging into court with the cameras on them. It also showed their parents in the court room crying and hugging on to one another in disbelief. This is not at all what they expected or desired for their children, in fact they were supposed to be watching their kids walk across a stage in just four days and receive diplomas. There were to be joyous celebrations, congratulatory embraces, and parties with grandparents, not sobbing and grief in a court room. I followed that story closely because I wanted to know what the outcome was and each of those precious but foolish kids were sentenced to six years in jail for their actions that night.

 

          Did those high school seniors want more than anything in the world to be able to rewind time and have that evening back so that they might be able to make a different choice than what they did? Absolutely! Can they? Absolutely not! If she could do it over again, would that cute little teenaged girl choose to have her face tattooed at all? Probably not. It is sadly too late for her and the group of kids who were in that car that night, but is it too late for you or for your child?  I am not sure what decisions you or they may be facing, but take time to look at the whole framed picture of your life, not just today’s snapshot. Momentary actions and choices can bring tremendous sorrow and heartache down the road. My sons were in their teens and new drivers when the incident involving the kids with the stop signs took place and I remember cutting out the picture from the newspaper that showed those fearful kids in their jumpsuits and their crying parents in the background and I put it on the refrigerator so they could see that every day as just a reminder of how one momentary action can cause a lifetime of regret. It is important to acknowledge that every life experiences a certain degree of regret in their own lives and in the lives of their children because we are all flawed human beings who will make mistakes. The challenge for us is to minimize the amount of it in terms of huge and life scarring choices that cause much sorrow or permanent consequences.  If you have a teen, do them a favor and let them read today’s blog…it could mean the difference between them learning this all important lesson the easy way or the hard way.  A word and a feeling that they never want to personally experience is REGRET. Help them not to!