#itsdad ~ Fight Fire With Water
Hey Guys! It’s Dad.
You know the very high standard of behavior that I expect from you both, and you rise to that standard every day. Your actions embody these two simple ideas: Be Gentlemen and Be Humble. I know that sometimes it isn’t easy, but you’re doing a fantastic job, especially under the circumstances with things changing at home. I couldn’t be prouder. That said, if I had to add a third behavior to the list it would be this…Be Loving.
Yesterday we learned of a tragedy that ended with a young gal taking her own life. My understanding is that she was being relentlessly bullied and she just couldn’t cope with the pain anymore. I could see how hard that was on Michael. Buddy, I know that this touched you in a powerful way. It should. When I watched those tears well up in your eyes and you gave me a long hug, I saw another piece of innocence being washed from your big, beautiful heart. The thought of a child enduring so much emotional pain for so long completely breaks my heart too. That heartache caused me to write this to you both.
There’s a quote, a cliché, with a bit of a “tough-guy” mentality that I believe is both misunderstood and misused when it comes to dealing with difficult and challenging times. “Fight fire with fire!” It pretty much means that if someone shoves you…shove ’em back! If someone hurts your feelings…hurt them back! If someone hates you…hate ’em right back. The truth is though, at least as I’ve experienced it in my life, this is often the wrong response to challenging circumstances.
Think about that phrase for a moment. “Fight fire with fire!” If there’s a fire…and you add more fire…it just makes a bigger fire. If folks are being violent, it introduces more violence. If people are talking trash…it’s creates more trash! It might sound kind of funny at first, but I like to say, “Fight fire with water!” Doesn’t that make more sense?
About 20 years ago the world lost a truly beautiful woman. No, I don’t mean with pretty eyes and nice skin. I mean a beautiful human being. Her name was Mother Theresa. She did so many wonderful and peaceful things for mankind. In fact she won the Nobel Peace Prize and was formally recognized by the church as a saint. Well I recently learned something absolutely fascinating about her. In all of her efforts to bring peace into war-torn areas of the world, not once did she attend an anti-war rally. Not once! Why not? Because they focused on war. How can you stop war when you’re focusing on war? Instead, she spoke at countless peace rallies. She focused her time and efforts on peace…not war. That might seem like a trivial difference, but it is a powerful example of the point that I hope you both take away from this message. That point is simply this: We don’t need to fight to win a war. We can do the opposite of fight, which is to love. We can be the water.
Jesus once said, “…love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” He does not go on to say that this will be easy. I wish he did. But he says that this is the way, the way to peaceful living.
I shared with you earlier this week how Lance Armstrong, that Tour de France guy, lied and cheated and threatened and manipulated thousands of people throughout his career, so he could win. But, as they always do, his lies caught up with him a few years ago, and when they did, millions of people hated him. People threatened him and his family. People bullied his kids. People had so much rage and pain. Even many years later people just held onto that pain.
Recently, while Armstrong was waiting for a taxi near a brew-pub in Colorado, a group of people at a restaurant started screamed horrible things at him; vile, horrible things. He didn’t know them and they didn’t know him, but they just screamed at him. His first thoughts could have been to return to his old ways of violence and power and to get into a fight with these guys. But what he actually did was much wiser. He didn’t get angry or violent; fighting fire with fire. Instead, he called the restaurant manager on the phone and told the manager what happened. Lance then he gave the manager his credit card number and said, “I’d like to pay for all of their food and drinks. All of them. So please go pay their bills. Then…tell them that I love them.”
Over the past several years Lance could have heard the cries and criticisms of thousands of hurting and angry people and just held onto ’em. He could have let them bring him down, to a dark, dark place. But he searched for answer and for guidance and for growth and he fought through.
We will never know how the angry people at the brew-pub felt after Lance’s kind and loving gesture, but I’d be willing to bet that at least one…if not all of them grew a little bit that day. We’ll never know for sure, but what I do know, is how much better Lance felt by offering love and support in stead of anger and violence. He chose to fight fire with water. He fought pain and anger with love.
I wish that I could tell you that the world is great, and that people are kind, but I can’t. You’re going to feel the sting of the jagged words of hurtful, hurt-filled people. What I did feel compelled to do though, is to make sure that you know that you’ll be fine. I wanted to encourage you to be willing to pause in the moment…then to fight fire with water, fight hate with love, and fight violence with peace.
It works boys. I promise you that.
I love you dearly.