Trey escaped to his friend's car, even though his dad said he couldn't leave the house while he still had homework. As he was putting on his seat belt his friend asked, "So, he was okay with you going to the arcade?"
Trey replied bitterly, "No, I snuck out. He sucks." But he felt a little dirty hearing those words come from his mouth.
At the arcade, there was a game that caught Trey's interest. As he walked away from a game his friend was still playing, he saw a screen and a plastic orange gun. A chaotic and varied array of strange creatures crept toward the screen from all corners of the field, most very well camouflaged.
Trey picked up the plastic gun and slid the game card for a credit. He pushed start but as he did the field emptied of creatures. He waited in silence while nothing happened but grasses blowing in the breeze.
This game sucks, Trey thought as he waited. But just as he started to put the gun down, things on the screen sensed his movement and shot back to their hiding places. Wait, he thought I hadn't even seen them sneaking toward me!
So now he waited, more still and even more intently. And before he knew it he recognized a munching sound and saw his life draining. He shot at the screen several times and a creature blew back away from him with a bullet hole in it. It had snuck up on him and he hadn't even noticed! Before he knew it, it was happening again. He died once before he had correctly shot any approaching creature. He tried again.
An hour later he was finally starting to recognize them and pick them off before they got to them.
"C'mon, Trey. I've gotta get back to do some homework."
As Trey labored over his homework that night two main streams of thought distracted him. One was how sneaky those monsters were and the second was thinking about excuses he could use to prove his dad was being tyrannical.
A knock on his door broke him out of his thoughts. "Hey Big Guy, I brought you a Nutella sandwich."
Trey shot back, "Is the crust off of it?!"
His father said, "You know it!" Then his dad opened his door and set the sandwich on his desk. "Got any questions about derivatives?" Then a moment later said, "If so, ask the internet. Your dad sucks at math." He mussed Trey's hair as he went out.
After his dad left and the smile wore off Trey's face, he thought, Why didn't you learn math? Didn't you think you'd need to help your son some day?! How can you call yourself a dad, much less an Architect?!
But when Trey glanced at his computer he saw his reflection in the screen and realized his smile had been replaced by scrunched and angry eyebrows.
Oh God, help. That thought just stole my joy. And my dad doesn't deserve this. A familiar verse rang in his head. Take every thought captive.
That night as he went to bed, he decided to play target practice on his thoughts. He lay in silence and waited for his thoughts. He realized the negative thoughts would sneak up on him and be consuming him before he even realized it. So he waited for them to come out, and listened so he could see them before they were upon him.
And he got good at recognizing them. And then immediately offering them to God. It became very much like target practice. He recognized them, and said, "That thought is yours, God." He'd picture it blow away from him and then he'd go back to observing.
And to think he had let so many thoughts munch at him and steal his joy for so long. But he'd have to get good at this target practice game. Those thoughts were so sneaky. If he stuck with it, maybe he could rid himself of them all together. But they attacked so often. It would have to be a war of attrition.
Do you find yourself fuming about something that maybe shouldn't be this big of a deal? Does it feel sometimes like something deep and unknown is motivating you to prove they're wrong? Does it feel just a little too good to curse someone and build arguments against them in your head? Maybe those thoughts are worth waging war against.
Raw Spoon, 5-4-2021