There was one day in my freshman year of high school that would be forgotten (or blocked out) as most of them are if I had listened to my sister’s advice. And after I experienced this day, I really wish I had listened. Really, really.

If you grew up in a family without a lot of money as I did, you are undoubtedly familiar with handmedowns. Of course, you need to remember that this was the mid 1990’s. It was not yet cool to wear secondhand clothes. To set your mind at ease, I feel like you need you to know that I didn’t wear my sister’s clothes. Her clothes weren’t my handmedowns. And there is not a picture of me wearing pink footie jammies to prove it.

The handmedowns I was wearing were my older brothers’. Yes, I am the baby of the family. Go ahead and conjure up whatever image you must. My brother is 7 years older than me. Actually 6 years, 364 days older, I was born the day before his 7th birthday. I’m told he didn’t much like that. But, if you can imagine that I’m wearing my older brothers clothes which are at least 7 years old, you get the impression that I might not be the coolest kid on the block. I didn’t have Guess jeans like everyone else.

So, one day I decided I was going to express myself and wear this outfit. Zip up cowboy boots, Green Pants and a Red Ohio State Buckeyes Sweatshirt. I’m going to give you just a second to let that image sink into the subconscious areas of your brain. Loser cowboy boots at a time when cowboy boots weren’t very cool, Green pants at a time when green pants were no longer cool (were they ever?) and a Red Buckeyes shirt.

My sister, who was only one year ahead of me, was also much cooler than me. I’ve never been the cool kid. She was the popular one. I was generally known to the bulk of the school as Melody or Jonathan’s brother. She had a much better understanding of what was cool and what would be met with ridicule. She knew that what I was wearing would be highly unfavored. She begged me not to wear it. She even got my mom to try to convince me not to wear it. But I resisted. I wore it anyway.

Needless to say, the kids at school were less than friendly to me. I was on the football team and the guys decided to give me a nickname. Christmas Tree. Because the cowboy boots looked like roots, the pants were green and the T-shirt was red. Not exactly the kind of nickname you hope to get when you’re on the football team.

All this agony could have been avoided had I simply listened to the wisdom of my sister who was much more wise than I when it comes to fashion.

Proverbs 5:12-14

And you will say, “How I hated discipline!
My heart spurned reproof!
For I did not obey my teachers
and I did not heed my instructors.
I almost came to complete ruin
in the midst of the whole congregation!”

My pain and humiliation was the kind that was for the whole world to see. Pretty much everyone in my class saw me that day, plus many others from other grades. If I had been a little less stubborn and proud and had heeded the reproof of my sister it would have been a day just like any other. But I did not, and I suffered the humiliation in front of the whole school.

I’m sure you have a similar story. The point isn’t to live in regret of mistakes we could have avoided in the past. Those are done. No time machines, no magic remotes. The real point is today and tomorrow. Is there a similar area in your life? Have you been ignoring the advice of someone much wiser than you simply because you want to do it your way? If so, listen to them. Listen to your teachers and instructors. If you don’t want to waste your days working for “The Man” and suffering the repercussions of the time-share seductress, listen to them!

You don’t need a nickname to go down in infamy. You don’t need to have that kind of day burned in your memory.