How to Avoid Disaster

The summer after I graduated high school, I worked for an insurance company. I got daily use of a company car, a Polaroid camera, and $7.50 an hour (pretty cushy stuff for 1993!). My job was, basically, to drive around, look at houses, and note problem areas: tree branches hanging over roofs (a storm could knock branches into the house), bushes in front of windows (able to hide would-be burglers), that kind of thing. The company wanted to make sure the houses they were insuring weren’t in imminent danger.  They knew that little things like trimming trees and bushes could save big money down the road. And since that summer was just a few months after one of the worst hurricanes to ever hit our state (Hurricane Andrew), all the insurance companies in the country were looking for ways to save money.

I’ve had several friends in the last decade or so make some Hurricane Andrew-like choices. Choices that devastated everyone around them. Nasty, ugly, painful decisions that left nasty, ugly, painful scars. Some have healed. Many have not. But unlike Hurricane Andrew – a storm whose destruction no amount of tree-trimming could have prevented – my friends’ decisions could have been avoided.

How could they have been avoided?

By trimming the trees!!

Just like I can protect my house by making sure no big heavy branch hangs above it (OK, that’s not actually my house. But if you’d buy some more of my books, maybe…!), I can protect myself by making sure no big heavy temptation is hanging above me. One of the choices Dave and I made even before we got married was that neither of us would ever be alone with a person of the opposite sex. Not even for a minute. No exceptions. No one plans to have an extramarital – or premarital – affair. “It just happens.” And it’s a huge mistake. But that huge mistake is almost aways preceded by lots of smaller ones. Protection from the small mistakes keep you far away from the big ones.

There’s so much more I want to write on this subject – other precautions, a reminder that it’s the heart, not the external actions, that really matter. That kind of thing. But I need to save that for later. This is a blog, not a novel. And bloggers are told to “keep it short” and “stick to one point.”

So here you go: Avoid disasters long before they have the power to come near you.  Put barriers in place to protect yourself and others. Whether it’s with the opposite sex, with movies or music, the internet, whatever…Trim those trees!

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