Have you ever gotten in a pranking war? I remember a few years back, one of our younger staff members, thought it would be a great idea to line my office floor with dixie cups filled with water. I walked in and literally every square inch of floor space was covered. It's a perfectly annoying prank because you literally have a limited time (before the water soaks through the paper cups) to individually dump each cup and throw it away.
So what do you think happened next? Upon learning the identity of the perpetrator, some youth, on my behalf, went to strike revenge. They happened to know that the person that pranked me hated pickle juice, so not only did they cover their office in cups, but they also poured pickle juice in many of the cups as well. Once they were done, the office was filled with the putrid smell of pickles.
As fun as these little stunts were, one thing it made me think about was the fact that one prank truly leads to another. Once you start the pranking warfare it never seems to reach a point where everyone feels like it's even. Each prank always takes it up a notch and there is never any end to it.
I was talking with a friend yesterday and we were discussing how we get caught up in cycles in our relationships. Often these fights are over our definition of 'fairness.' In marriage we get in conflicts because our spouse isn't carrying their part of the 'load.' When we lash out at them, they simply lash back at us and state how we're not carrying our part of the 'load'.
I have found that the only thing that breaks this cycle is grace. Someone has to bite the bullet and begin a cycle of blessing rather than a cycle of cursing. Just as it takes one curse to start a negative cycle, it only takes one graceful blessing to start a positive cycle. The passage below out of Matthew 5 reminds me that we are supposed to be different as God's children:
38 "Here's another old saying that deserves a second look: 'Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.' 39 Is that going to get us anywhere? Here's what I propose: 'Don't hit back at all.' If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. 40 If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. 41 And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. 42 No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.
May you start a chain-reaction of blessing today in your workplace, school, neighborhood and home!