God Beyond My Periphery | Decepticon's, Cobra's, and Other "Bad Guys"
My parents were very selective with the toys they let my brother and I play with when we were kids. We were allowed to have Transformer toys, but we could not have any Decepticon’s; only Autobot’s. Similarly, we were allowed to have G.I. Joe toys, but we could not have any from the Cobra crowd. Decepticon’s and Cobra’s were the bad guys and they stood for what was wrong with the world. On the cartoons, the bad guys characterized meanness and anger. They talked with harsh tones. They appeared to despise things. They stormed in and out and slammed doors. They broke stuff. They sought to trump the prevailing power of good with evil in their respective kingdoms. They were evil and my parents wanted our example to be good.
I remember the day that example was shattered.
My brother and I had finished electing which G.I. Joe’s would get to be actual Joe’s and which ones had to play the role of bad guy and be Cobra’s. We were playing nicely in the living room. The sun was streaming in through the big picture windows. Perhaps we should have been playing outside. Maybe it was cold and wintery though? Or, maybe it was almost dinner? No matter really. The deep blue colored linoleum at the entry by the front door and the worn moss green carpet throughout the house were perfect for the lake and field we needed for the ensuing battle.
It must have been a Saturday because my Mom and Dad were both home. Although, my Dad worked shift work at the paper mill in town, so it could have been any day that he had an afternoon off. To this day I could not tell you how it all started because it started in another room, but my Dad stormed into the living room fuming. My Mom followed. There stood my Mom and Dad in the middle of our battlefield. I know there was shouting. I know there was meanness and anger. The “bad guys” had arrived. I am sure they had words for one another, but by God’s grace I do not remember a single one. And frankly, this scenario was not repeated enough in our home either before or after this event to have burned words into my memory anyway.
At some point, probably after an eternity or so, my Dad turned and marched toward the front door. He stormed out and slammed the door so hard the walls shook. I was startled by the crash of my Mom’s curio cabinet, once hanging on the wall, now lying on the floor. She quickly grabbed it and left the room crying. My brother and I probably went on playing.
Indeed, I suppose I should have been playing outside in the backyard. Had I been, I never would have experienced the evil of the “bad guys” in such demonstrable display. However, seeing what I did drove a reality deep into my soul. I learned that meanness and anger exist outside the context of Saturday morning cartoons. I learned that sin, in its entire broken array, was real and it exists in people close to me; people who fought mercilessly to guard me from it, even amidst my whining in the toy aisle for a Cobra character. I learned that sin plays no favorites, makes no exceptions, and hurts at a level deeper than what I feel when I fall off my bike and skin my knee.
(This is the third post in a series of posts called "God Beyond My Periphery." These posts are a series of stories; remembrances really, of times and seasons throughout my life that God used, beyond my direct view to shape me spiritually into the man that I am today. Click here to read an intro, the first story in the series. Click here to read the second story in the series.)