My youngest son, Calvin (not quite 2 years old) has a tendency to be destructive. As he grows and learns to use his body he loves to take the role of Godzilla, much to the chagrin of his two slightly older brothers. No matter what the game is, Calvin is self-appointed “destroyer.” I would say no matter how elaborate and painstaking the set up his brothers are working on Calvin is ready and willing to play his self-ascribed role, but that wouldn’t be accurate. It is more accurate to say in his hamster-sized mind the more costly the investment on the part of his brothers the more satisfaction he will get in the destruction, little devil.
It is like Calvin cannot imagine why a thing would be built if not to be torn down. Why wouldn’t the pinnacle of any game or situation be destruction, chaos, and ruin. It’s sort of like many of our interpretations of nature…but that is not the point I want to make here today. The point I want to reflect on this: when he behaves this way (a perfectly natural way for an almost two year-old to behave, I don’t blame him for it and mostly chuckle at the older two’s outrage) he reminds me of me, at my worst. There are destroyers in all of us.
I have been guilty of holding others down, not just by virtue of being a white middle class male but really, me, just me, I have done actions of which I am not proud. Sometimes this has happened in order to lift myself up, we have all been on both sides of that one, I suppose. Other times for the sheer fun of it, like the time…well maybe I won’t get too personal but trust me, I am not proud to say, that there have been times I have gone out of my way to ruin a perfectly good thing. Then there are the times that this has happened unknown to me, the residual wreckage we all leave in our wakes.
The curse is upon us, we live in a fallen and broken world, it is not as good as it is meant to be. This is exhibited in countless ways. One of them is our own abilities to be like Calvin, in at least some part of our lives, even as grown-ups. There is a part of many of us that either knowingly or unknowingly tears down a good thing made by another person, or attacks the very character and dreams of someone, a good thing made by God. We must strive to avoid this and to do our very best to encourage. This isn’t always easy and this doesn’t always involve pointing someone to the smoothest or easiest path. This is difficult on many levels.
Many are the women pulled down by men who cannot accept their success. Many are the children who have been destroyed in one of innumerable ways we big people have dreamed up to ruin their lives. Many are the men downtrodden with furrowed brow, their abilities and desires unrecognized. We live in a world of unrealized potential.
Today I am reflecting on where I might be doing this in my life. Are there subtleties to the relationships I am in that God is inviting me to notice? When Calvin wreaks his havoc his brothers are fast to let him know of their displeasure. As adults though, and especially as an adult in a position often given authority, all too often people chose silence where my older boys chose yelling. I ask that you pray for my discernment in such things.
My challenge to you is to ask yourself where your relationships might need a change? Where are they less godly than befits a Christian? Or, if you are not a Christian, where are they less generous and loving than they should be? Is there anything hard you are being called to do? When is the last time you took the harder route? Did God meet you there?
As Christians we need to find the humility to ask such questions and the strength to accept the answers, though the process may be painful. As Christians we live in grace, we are capable of repentance, and trying to start anew, we do not rely on our own merit, our own good works, we rely on Christ’s. We are to ask for and to offer forgiveness if we are to be his people. Need help? Ask the Holy Spirit or a Christian brother or sister. You will be glad you did.