“No more ice-cream runs,” I said to my kids, Grace, Faith, and Kennedy. I wasn’t trying to be mean; it was just the responsible thing to do. I had to protect my new truck from their inevitable spills.
Our last car was so old, it hadn’t mattered as much; I’d happily risked it for the sake of family activities. But the likelihood of a messy accident meant more now.
It was easy to stick with the new rule at first, but I soon felt selfish. I had to find a way to resume our ice-cream runs without sacrificing the condition of my truck. I decided that towels on the floor, in the seats, and in the kids’ laps would do the trick.
I had it all figured out, so the next night I surprised everyone with the magic words: “Hey, how about an ice-cream run?”
“But what about your truck, Daddy?” the kids chorused. I apologized for being selfish and told them the towels would protect the truck. And off we went.
Much to my surprise, the trip itself was spill-free. We returned home, and I pulled into the garage, quite proud. But then, as I put the truck in Park, big globs of melting ice cream came flying up from the back, sailed right between the two front bucket seats, and hit the dash.
Like an angry lion ready to pounce, I turned to confront the kids. Faith was holding her own and Kennedy’s empty cups. The expression on her face made it clear she wasn’t at fault. Kennedy was already out of his car seat and on the floor. But Grace was holding an empty cup out in front of her with a look that said, “I didn’t mean to, Daddy.”
Just as I was ready to ban ice-cream runs forever and yell at Grace for being so careless, I noticed the ice cream on the dash, oozing into the cracks around the buttons on my radio. I forgot about scolding Grace and went into full-on Operation Save My Truck mode. I had to get that melting ice cream off the radio immediately. And the only way I could think to do that was to start sucking it out.
So that’s what I did. I wrapped my lips around the buttons and started sucking with all my might. It worked too! The family looked at me as if I’d lost my mind. Grace looked more scared than ever, because now her dad was trying to eat his radio! My wife looked like she wanted to ask, “What the heck are you doing, Kenny?”
Thankfully, the distraction of those sticky dash buttons gave me time for a reality check. Slowly, truths about love from 1 Corinthians 13 began to surface.
I remembered that love is patient and kind. It isn’t proud or rude; it doesn’t demand its own way. It isn’t irritable; it keeps no record of being wronged. I remembered that love defends the truth and others without regard for itself. I was acting as though I’d never learned anything at all. I was letting fear of a sticky dash button push love right out the window.
I composed myself and asked Grace what had happened. She answered, “I was real careful, but then Kennedy did what you taught him to do. He rolled forward to get out of his car seat and did a front flip onto the floor. But when he flipped, his heel hit my cup. I’m so sorry, Daddy.”
I had a choice: I could be loving or selfish. In the end, the choice was clear. I would sacrifice my truck over my kids any day. (But I did make a new “no flipping out of the car seat on ice-cream runs” rule.)
Are you angry over an incident? Whether it’s something as silly as my truck story or something more serious, we as believers are called to act lovingly toward others. That might not be easy, and it might even cost you something. But tearing down others for the sake of anything isn’t worth the cost. Chose love. It will bring rewards far greater than a clean truck. †