“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” I John 4:11
“Hey Dad, some kids at school said they were going to toilet paper our house tonight. What do we do?”
“Then we’d better get ready.”
They ran out to the Dollar Store, bought some water balloons, and filled a bucket with them. Later that night they sat in the garage and waited. About midnight the dad thought, “What in the world am I doing? I’m a grown man waiting in a dark garage with a bucket of water balloons in the middle of the night.” He was about to call it quits when he heard rustling outside. He threw open the door and nailed the would-be-perpetrators before they could launch any TP. Mission accomplished. End of story. So he thought.
The next day his kids came home from school, “Dad, those guys were talking about you at lunch. They’re plotting to come again tonight and bring more people.” With a distant look in his eye, like a western gunslinger on the eve of battle, Dad said, “I’ll be ready.” He called a friend for backup and doubled the balloons. The kids came, and again he drove them back. He figured that would be the end of it. The next day his kids came home from school saying, “Dad, half the school is talking about you. They’re coming again tonight with even more people.” He said, “I’ll be ready.” He called in yet another friend and stationed buckets of balloons strategically around the perimeter of the house. They positioned a hose near the road and waited. Around 1:00 AM five cars came creeping down the road with their lights off. He waited until he could see the whites of their lights to launch the assault. Hose full blast and a barrage of balloons drove them back again! As one of the water-logged youths was escaping, the son yelled, “Why do you keep coming back?” The attacker shouted back, “Because your dad will play with us!”
The next day his kids came home from school, “Dad, the ENTIRE school was talking about you. They’re ALL coming tonight.” He said, “I’ll be ready.” The preparation was on a scale not seen since D-Day. Caches of balloons, hoses, and water guns were placed throughout the property. The whole family committed to defend their homestead and stockpiled supplies like a doomsday prepper. All that was left was the waiting. In the middle of night they could see the line of cars coming down the neighboring road. They readied their weapons for the attack. But before a car could get in range of their hoses, balloons started raining down on him from the other side of the house. They were launching from the back of pickup trucks like mortars into trenches. Then the cars came rolling in and both sides attacked with fervor. After what seemed like hours, he was able to block the leader’s car in his driveway and sue for peace. A truce was called. They shook hands like superpowers at a global summit. They took pictures to commemorate the moment. It really was over.
The next day the mother of the attacking group ran into him at the grocery store. She said, “There’s something very interesting on my kitchen table.”
“Oh yeah? What?”
“It’s a full scale model of your house and surrounding property.”
Many parents (maybe even the one writing this) would go ballistic upon hearing that some kids were planning to TP their house. They’d start calling parents and issuing threats and taking it personally. But not this dad. He turned something that could have been a really bad experience for everyone, and he changed it into a memory. He saw it as an opportunity to love on his kids and their friends.
Sometimes loving others requires creativity, it requires getting out of our comfort zone, it requires thinking about the situation from a different perspective. That can be hard to do. But it can be worth it. And it’s much better than plucking moist toilet paper from the tips of trees.
Try to think of a situation that really got under your skin. How could you have reversed it, like this Dad did, and turn it into a memory? How could you have turned it into a chance to love?
God, we all encounter annoyances. Help us to be able to see them through new eyes – to think of ways to turn these situations into opportunities to love others. Help us to desire to love others because you first loved us.