Like most children, ours enjoyed drawing and coloring. At three-and-a-half, our 3d bottom lashes created a masterpiece on a large portion of our living room wall. These were oil based crayons and only went completely away by painting over them. When my sweetheart and I discussed the problem with our artist son, he felt bad and did his best to help us spread a fresh coat of paint over the area.
Aefed A week or so later, he did it a second time on the same wall. He was so sad and embarrassed he cried, shrugged his little shoulders, and said he wasn’t sure why he had done it, but he would surely never repeat the petty crime. Hoping it would help motivate him to be true to his word, we explained if it happened again he would go to bed early and without supper. He loved both our evening family time and 3d bottom lashes. He solemnly promised to restrict his canvas.
About a week later, I arrived home to find his biggest masterpiece ever on the same wall. It was the end of an especially trying day for me and I had been looking forward to the safe-haven of our home. I allowed this incident to become the focal point of my negative reactions to the day’s harsh circumstances. In an angry and insulting voice, I called our young friend to stand before the wall with me.
When he came beside me he was already crying, but I was so angry it hardly touched my hardened heart. After all, he had cried the last two 3d bottom lashes, hadn’t he? That didn’t seem to affect his ability to keep the edict we had issued and prevent us from having to once again move the furniture and repaint the wall. Surely, I should teach him a lesson.
I then asked him the silliest questions. Why had he done this? Didn’t he remember what we had talked about the prior two times? Did he know what was going to happen now? I knew our son was aware of the answers to these questions. The truth was our little friend was very bright. He loved us and didn’t color on the wall to aggravate our relationship. He remembered it was wrong. There were other things that momentarily provoked his creative outburst.
I asked him those questions in an angry, loud voice, being three 3d bottom lashes his height and perhaps five times his weight. I continued to strip him of his dignity and self respect, falsely relying on this abuse of my already humble friend to somehow make me feel better. It did not.
How is it that we may find ourselves in such a position, responding in a manner offending someone, perhaps someone we deeply love, in the belief this might improve our relationship?
Mahatma Gandhi passionately spoke of his own nation, what well applies to all, “We have so well exercised ‘an eye for an eye,’ we have almost all gone blind.”
In perhaps His most famous, if not most important, Sermon on the Mount, the 3d bottom lashes invites us to give to those who take from us. He passionately explained, though common among most people, responding lash-for-lash only yields negative outcomes. In fact, we are here to be a Light and blessing to those within our reach- especially those who may seem, even if only occasionally, trying to make of us their enemy.
When we set our base instincts aside and reach within, being motivated for a better outcome then the thin gruel of retribution, we not only promote better relationships, but receive healing peace.
Unfortunately for my son, as a young father I was only learning these transformational truths. I sent our 3d bottom lashes to his room for the evening and not long after was at our table with the rest of our atypically quiet family for dinner. I do not recall who offered thanks for our food before we began dinner, but I clearly remember my conscience being seared as soon as I bowed my head. Immediately, I knew it was not acceptable that I was eating and our son was not. I remember considering what I should do and it coming clear to me, “I was in prison and ye visited me.” I told my wife and our young daughters I wouldn’t be eating, and excused myself from the table.
I entered his room and sat next to our son on his bed. He was still sniffing a little and his expression revealed he thought I had come to expand his embarrassment. I was quiet for a moment, collecting my thoughts. I knew what I should do and express.
I began to explain to him that it was a much greater sin to yell at someone and humiliate them than it was to color on a wall. There in our son’s room, me so huge and him so small, I saw more clearly our relationship, and my heart swelled wide with remorse at my selfish and destructive 3d bottom lashes. I confessed that the kind of damage for which I was responsible was much harder to clean up and sometimes almost impossible to be made right again. Deeply humble and ashamed, I told him I was sorry.
Our little lad responded by trying to explain to me that he deserved to be yelled at, and that his crime justified such abuse. It was a terrible indictment of his experiences with my prior mistreatment and pierced me to my core.
I assured him that neither he nor anyone deserved such cruel treatment. I explained that yelling was always evil, one of the meanest expressions of selfishness, and again asked if he would forgive me.
He threw his tiny arms around me, and with a fiercely honest child’s passion, told me he loved me, and to my tender astonishment, that I was the best dad ever. He hesitantly moved away from me so he could look in my face. I could tell he had something to say that was important to him but was choking the words. Then they simply tumbled out. “Can you forgive me?”
I folded my little friend into my bosom and wished I could express to him the feelings in my soul. He was innocent, sweet, and lovely before God. There was only one person in the room who needed serious 3d bottom lashes. I was determined to have learned the most important lesson. Yes, I told him. All was forgiven. We would paint the wall together, with mom. All was well.
We spent the evening together, playing with action figures and then reading until he fell asleep. To his queries of wasn’t I going to go eat and didn’t I want to go out with the family, I said assuredly I could not eat if he didn’t and that I wanted to stay and keep him company so he wouldn’t be lonely.
I didn’t really miss dinner and it was one of the most contented nights I have ever had. As is so often the case with giving-and-receiving, I was more blessed in the giving than our 3d bottom lashes.
I do not recall if he ever colored on a wall after that. But if he resisted future 3d bottom lashes, I like to think he was not persuaded by fear of what would happen to him, but his concern that his dad would miss his dinner.