I know I promised you part II to our last message, and I will keep my word, but there is something more pressing right now and I hope you will find it as interesting as it has been helpful to me.
One of my favorite children’s movies is called “Robots”. I enjoy the dialogue between characters, the interaction and intertwining of their individual developing stories, the colors, the double entendres, and the music. I even like the evil characters because their deeds and intentions are so ludicrous and cause me to look at relationships between people more closely.
A favorite scene of mine is where the star robot Rodney enters the place where Mr. Bigweld, the big inventor (no pun intended) has been hiding from the world. Rodney discovers how Bigweld has been spending his time now that he no longer is the chief and boss of his own company: Bigweld created a mammoth work of art using only dominos. It’s an extraordinary sight and reveals his ability to dream and create with unlimited vision.
Well, if you know anything about dominos then you know what happened even without my telling you: domino creations are made for the excitement of watching them fall. Perhaps you’ve seen the competitions on television. It takes vision, creativity, time and more time, and a lot of dominos to build these creations, but in just one second they can and are “destroyed”. “We all fall down”.
Relationships are like domino creations – It takes time and energy, time and patience, time and kindness, time and love, time and . . . to build relationships in the home, the community, the workplace, the church, the world: which is what gives our relationships their value and importance – the time, effort and spirit we put into “loving” someone else. One songwriter wrote
“No man is an island, and no man stands alone . . . We need one another and so I will defend each man as my brother, each man as my friend.”
In the Old Testament book of Genesis God said it was not good for man to be alone, without other humans like himself with whom he could relate. God alone was not enough, and the animals were on a different level altogether. J Relationships are designed so that the members are in such close proximity that when one hurts the others hurt too. When one person feels joy, so do the others in the relationship.
What brought this domino “theory” to my mind this week was a situation in which I found myself. I was the front domino and what I did or did not do for better or for worse, would affect at least one other person that I knew directly. But in this case I knew several other dominos so this piece of domino art work was more intricate than linear. The choice I made would touch eight people directly and then indirectly to me (but directly to them) those with who they were in contact (or standing in front of, if you will). You can see this in the “Robots” movie too – the design Mr. Bigweld created showed how intricate his vision was and that in many areas one domino knocked over several dominos at once in different directions. It was phenomenal until a tidal wave of falling dominos became the epitome and rush of the entire design! It was wonderful to watch in that context, but in real life this is not always the case.
Now before I continue let me say that this is not a negative message by no means, and in doing so I want to say that we can touch each other for good too. This is the point of this message – to open our eyes and ears to our words and actions to and for others as well as against others, which cause a positive or negative domino effect. Let us realize that when we always do the right thing for the right motives and reasons, everyone involved will benefit either in the long and or short run. However, if either of these two variables is negative, then not everyone (domino) is going to “fall” in a positive way.
If I do the right thing for the wrong reasons, this means I’m just a puppet with no heart or spirit. Can you say “Tin Man”? (I need to see the Wizard.) I therefore have no love for others. I’m just following the rules and “just give me my paycheck please.” I have no real investment in the task, or in the people with whom I’m working, and neither do I care about those for whom I am working to “create” whatever I am doing to create. (Kind of wordy I know, but I think you will understand it better like that this time.) I might as well stay at home for as the song says “your body’s here with me, but your mind is on the other side of town.” If anything goes wrong I will take the attitude that “it’s not my problem” and the stance of “call me when things are up and running again.” I will not make the effort to understand the problem, its origins, or if maybe I have something to contribute to solve the problem.
God said it this way when speaking to the Hebrew people: (and I’m summarizing some of what He said) “I’m not interested in your animal sacrifices like you think I AM (even though I require them of you.)” Why not? Because they did not come to Him with their hearts. God is more interested in relationships of the heart. The prophet Jeremiah speaks for God in chapter 29:13 this way in the book that bears his name, “Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require ME [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Ref. Deuteronomy 4:29-30, Amplified Bible)
If we do the wrong thing, I’m not sure we need to elaborate on that, however there will be consequences undesired, even if we do it for or with the right motives. I still love playing all the domino games – Dominos, Triominos, and Quadrominos, but after this incident and season in my life, I will forever be changed. I will never look at relationships, or dominos the same way again. J The Domino Effect is the main reason God commands us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. The problem is most of us don’t know what real, pure love is, looks like feels like; it has never been a reality in our lives, thus we don’t know how to love ourselves. (Leviticus 19:18) We knock over other dominos (people) like we knock over ourselves. For whatever you are doing to others you are first doing it to yourself, whether positive or negative. Oooh, stop punching yourself in the face will ya? Do you hate yourself that much? How about a shoulder massage instead? Hmmm, something to think about isn’t it?
My prayer for myself this year has been a selfish one, but one I know that others who come in contact with me will be so glad I prayed this way, and it is this “Father, teach me how to love myself and show me what that looks like, in Jesus’ name, Amen.” I cannot bless you until I have been blessed, for I will have nothing to give. I cannot “heal” you with words or deeds of love and encouragement until I have first been healed in this manner, for I must first experience good “health” (spirit, soul and body) to know what good health is, and can be for others. And since I know this is a prayer God will answer for me, then I know He will answer it for you too, whether I pray it for you, or you ask Him yourself.
For this is the problem with our world: we’ve not yet believed, received and conceived God’s love to and for us through His Son Jesus the Christ, and therefore we fail to embrace Him and allow His love to transform us into agents of love and change. (007? J I don’t think so.) So we do what we do whether right deeds for the right reasons, the right things with the wrong motives, the wrong acts with good intentions (is that an oxymoron?), or the wrong things with evil motives (two wrongs don’t make a right, neither do they make it right), and yet we still come up short because we are doing it, whatever “it” is we are doing, without real and true love. “Love does no harm to a neighbor”. (I Corinthians 13:1-13) “’Who is my neighbor’” a Pharisee asked Jesus? Hmmm, look in the mirror first. How you treat that person is how you will treat others, spirit, soul and body. You are practicing on you.
Every day, everywhere we go or don’t go, what we say or don’t say, what we do or don’t do – in some way we are affecting and effecting the life and lives of others in some way, positively or negatively. This is the Domino Effect. It is more important “how” we “fall” (“falling” is not necessarily a negative thing in the context of this blog message) than if we don’t fall at all. In the game of building dominos (and in the game of life and building up people and relationships, which is no game at all), the fun is in the building and the falling. Together. J
In “Robots”, after Rodney knocked over Mr. Bigweld’s domino creation, Bigweld did not get angry. He wanted them to join him in rebuilding it again. He kept such a positive attitude about it all even though it took forever for him to build it the first time. He built it for that very reason: for the rush of the tidal wave which they shared with him. Let’s do it again!