I took my daughter, Helen (eight years old), and son, Brandon (five years old), to the Cloverleaf Mall in Hattiesburg to do a little shopping. As we drove up, we spotted a Peterbilt eighteen-wheeler parked with a big sign on it that said “Petting Zoo.” The kids jumped up in a rush and asked, “Daddy, Daddy. Can we go? Please. Please. Can we go?”
“Sure,” I said, flipping them both a quarter before walking into Sears. They bolted away and I felt free to take my time looking for a scroll saw. A petting zoo consists of a portable fence erected in the mall with about six inches of sawdust and a hundred little furry baby animals of all kinds. Kids pay their money and stay in the enclosure enraptured with the squirmy little critters while their moms and dads shop.
A few minutes later, I turned around and saw Helen walking along behind me. I was shocked to see she preferred the hardware department to the petting zoo. Plus, I thought the children had to wait till the parents came to pick them up. I bent down and asked what was wrong.
She looked up at me with those giant limpid brown eyes and said sadly, “Well, Daddy, it cost fifty cents. So, I gave Brandon my quarter.” Then she said the most beautiful thing I ever heard. She repeated the family motto: “Love is action!”
She had given Brandon her quarter, and no one loves cuddly furry creatures more than Helen. She had watched both me and my wife do and say “Love is action!” for years around the house. She had heard and seen “Love is action,” and now she had incorporated it into her little lifestyle. It had become part of her.
What do you think I did? Well, not what you might think. First, we went back to the petting zoo, since Brandon was by himself. We stood by the fence and watched Brandon go crazy petting and feeding the animals. Helen stood with her hands and chin resting on the fence and just watched Brandon. I had fifty cents burning a hole in my pocket; I never offered it to Helen, and she never asked for it.
Because she knew the whole family motto. It’s not “Love is action.” It’s “Love is SACRIFICIAL action!” Love always pays a price. Love always costs something. Love is expensive. When you love, benefits accrue to another’s account. Love is for you, not for me. Love gives; it doesn’t grab. Helen gave her quarter to Brandon and wanted to follow through with her lesson. … She wanted to experience that total family motto. Love is sacrificial action.--Dave Simmons, “Dad, The Family Coach”
Courtesy of Anchor; used with permission.