One recent vacation evening in Orlando, Florida, my family and I were eating supper at a restaurant where the entertainment includes cool music, props and performance artists. On this particular evening one of the forms of entertainment were “stilt walkers”. A stilt walker is a person who walks on, well, stilts.
These stilt walkers also happened to be amazing balloon artists. From the moment we walked into the establishment my four year old daughter fixed her eyes on this enormous person who could magically make animals and objects appear from three foot long latex balloons. On one occasion the performer put the balloon behind his back and with a few twists, bends and folds he presented a small poodle to an adoring little girl.
With two kids in tow, we certainly had to experience this magic for ourselves. My daughter Ainsley waved to one of the two, a lady standing 15 feet tall. The lady asked Ainsley if she’d like a gift. With an affirmative smile and a nod, the balloon lady went to work on her craft. She pulled, stretched, pinched and twisted this 3 foot long balloon into the shape of a poodle that looked so real it practically barked. Impressive indeed.
After dinner and some other attractions we headed for home. As we’re driving down the road, I heard a conversation breakout between my 8-year old son and my 4-year old daughter. It went something like this.
Caleb: “Hey Ainsley.”
Caleb: “Do you want me to make something cool out of your balloon?”
As we continue to drive, I hear the contortions of the balloon in the back seat. I’m thinking to myself: “Wow, Caleb must be pretty awesome at this. His work on that balloon sounds exactly like the sounds I heard when the professional was working her craft at the restaurant.” At this moment I begin seeing visions of a business plan. I could take Caleb downtown to the Baltimore Inner Harbor where the street performers earn a living and I could set up shop. People would pay big bucks to see an 8-year old balloon artist. If I could have him learn to juggle fire and maybe ride a unicycle, we’d be in great shape!
It didn’t take long for my dreams of early retirement to come crashing to an abrupt end.
I hear from the back seat:
Ainsley: “Caleb, what are you making for me?”
A confident Caleb says proudly: “A snake!”
I busted out laughing. I couldn’t help myself.
My son took what was created by a master craftsman and confidently (read: innocently) destroyed it by turning it into something that his unskilled 8-year old hands could manage.
Did the balloon function? Yes.
Did it resemble a creature (a snake)? Yes.
Did he accomplish what he set out to accomplish? Yes.
Was he intentional in trying to hurt feelings? No. But what he “created” was not actually a creation at all. My son’s “creation” was simply destruction of what the original designer had in mind.
In the car that day, after I stopped laughing, a thought occurred to me: We do this almost every day. We take God’s beautiful creation and in our attempt to place our own fingerprints on it, dismantle that which God established. I see this challenge in nearly all of my counseling sessions with hurting people who have hurt others by trying to manipulate or control. I see this in how some people view the local church as a place where they can lift their hands to grasp at power instead of bowing their head in prayer. This creation-through-destruction is evidenced in so many areas of life.
Let me give you an encouragement today: Make poodles, not snakes.
Take the extra time and effort to spend your life building up and not tearing down. Be part of God’s plan for hope, healing and salvation. Be an encourager. Be a problem solver. Be a helper. Be a servant. Be a shoulder to cry on. Be a friend. Work toward honoring God’s plan in all areas of your life. Speak truth but speak truth in love. In short: Make poodles, not snakes.