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June 11, 2012

“Aren’t You a Little Short for a Stormtrooper?”

A lesson in lightsaber battles and loving my enemies

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“You be Darth Maul,” my five-year-old charge instructed me, handing me his older brother’s red lightsaber. “I’m Obi-Wan Kenobi.”

It was a Tuesday afternoon, and following a to-specifications lunch (during which a pair of shockingly blue eyes monitored every spread of peanut butter and counted every potato chip) and half an hour of storybook time, this babysitting job was about to become hazardous.

Even with some prearranged choreography on my side (“Now, you knock my saber out of my hand, but I roll out of your way”), I was ill-prepared for my opponent’s swiftness and skill. The fact that Giulio barely came up to my ribcage might have suggested a need to go easy on him, but I was the one struggling (in vain) to defend myself. As a large glowing tube of plastic flew dangerously close to my nose, I realized I was in over my head.

For the next few minutes, I had a lot of practice dying, even with plentiful second chances from my young Jedi. Finally, Giulio heaved a sigh and collapsed his weapon.

“You need training,” he said, shaking his head.

It was true. I was getting schooled—by a preschooler who had never even seen the Star Wars movies for himself. My own fondness for the movies only made my predicament more pathetic.

As Giulio walked me through some “basics” and I valiantly choked back laughter, I reflected that this was surprisingly generous of him. I feel like most youngest-siblings, especially from a trio of boys, would jump at the chance to trounce one of the big kids at something. But this little guy was determined to help me improve. Even though our role play dictated that I was doomed to lose (such is the fate of all Sith Lords), Giulio saw me as a real person and wanted to help that which was lacking in me.

It can be easy to cast those who annoy or frustrate us as “enemies”—not ones we actively work to “defeat” in any way, but certainly ones we avoid or refuse to help. Although I may not be in junior high anymore, I still daily encounter people who are difficult to like, let alone love. I still draw those lines between those I earnestly engage and those I hold as far away as possible. Mercy becomes a prideful leniency—“I’ll brush it off because I’m a good person”—rather than a nurturing force in the relationships that need it.

As Giulio noted, I need training in this. The hands-on kind. I need concrete examples of what it means to love my “enemies,” not my ethereal conceptions of what that looks like.

A story that’s followed me vividly from my childhood picture-Bible readings is that of the shepherd boy David and his tenuous relationship with King Saul, who spent much of his life hunting the would-be king. Young David chose several times not to seize opportunities to kill his oppressor. In 1 Samuel 24, David spares Saul’s life in the cave that was hiding David’s army, then reveals himself, bowing before the king and promising, “I said, ‘I will never harm the king—he is the LORD’s anointed one.’” In this moment, David not only refrains from harming Saul, he affirms his enemy, acknowledges the Lord’s better love for him, and strives to honor that love.

Admittedly, I probably won’t be called to use my Jedi powers much. But how often do I pass up a chance to use my strengths to assist those I don’t consider to be my friends or allies? How often do I extend kindness to the people who are forces of discouragement in my life? How often do I honor their existence? I pray that God will cultivate in me David’s courage and humility, Giulio’s unhesitant desire to serve and to build up, and his own eye for the places where love, and not lightsabers, is needed.

Ashley Gray is an editorial intern for Kyria.com.

Related Tags: compassion, enemy, help, patience

Comments

Thank you for sharing this Ashley. It was something I needed to be reminded of today.

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