“Vandalized! What to Do?” Ensign, Dec. 1990, 14–15
Early one December afternoon my husband baptized our youngest son. My heart was full as I saw my son’s sweet face reflecting his feelings about this important day. That evening we attended our ward Christmas program and left filled with a special Christmas spirit. It had been a wonderful day.
But our feelings of joy were replaced with confusion and anger as we pulled into our driveway and noticed that the glass in our lamppost had been broken. The lightbulb was crushed, and the rod that earlier had held a bright Christmas bow lay broken on the ground. Along the front of our house hung dripping masses of raw eggs. The bright yellow goo clung to the windows, the eaves, and the siding and adorned the woodwork of our front door. Some of the oozing mess had already frozen in the plummeting temperatures. This was not the first time we had been the object of minor vandalism, but it was definitely the worst.
My husband and I hurried our children into the house as they questioned, “Mom, why would anyone do that to us? Don’t they like us?” We calmed the children down, put them to bed, and headed out into the frigid night air to begin the task of scraping and scrubbing off the mess. We knew that if we left it until morning, last summer’s paint job would be ruined. With frozen hands and flaring tempers, we came inside an hour and a half later.
I suddenly remembered that the next day, Sunday, I was supposed to talk to the Primary children about the Savior and his love for us. We were going to discuss ways we could show love to him and our fellowman. I wondered how I could honestly express feelings of love when anger and resentment were racing through my heart. We went to bed that night exhausted and disappointed that such a wonderful day had ended so miserably.
The next morning someone revealed who the culprits were. Friends encouraged us to call the police and turn the boys in, but my husband and I searched for a better way to handle the situation. We knelt together and asked Heavenly Father to help us do what was best, not just for us but for the boys involved. Suddenly, the answer came rushing to us, and a sweet peace replaced our feelings of anger. I was able to go to Primary that day and share with the children my love for the Savior and his guiding influence in our lives.
That evening my husband and I stacked two plates full of cookies and headed out to talk with the boys and their parents. The first family was new in our neighborhood. We gave the cookies to the boy and told him that we felt this was a better thing to do with eggs. “The next time you get the urge to use some eggs,” we said, “bring them down to our house, and we’ll all make a batch of cookies together.”
Sadly, the boy’s father was not receptive to our attempt at reconciliation and told us to take the cookies and go. We left the cookies anyway and went on our way. As we walked to our car, I started to lose all of my resolve about going to the next house. Frankly, I was a little frightened and very disappointed. I had been so convinced that we were doing the right thing, but now I wasn’t so sure.
However, my husband’s encouragement prodded us on. Fortunately, our experience at the next house was somewhat better. This time the boy’s parents expressed appreciation that we had dealt with the problem so understandingly. But the boy flatly denied any part in the egg incident.
We went home, glad that we had followed through, but unsure about the effect it had had.
One hour later, the second boy, accompanied by his father, sheepishly knocked on the door and quietly confessed that he and the other boy had been involved. To make up for the mess they had caused, he said he would come to our house the next day after school and clean off any remnants he could find of the eggs.
No apology or attempt at restitution came from the other boy. However, one month later, as Relief Society president, I received the name of a family whose records had just been sent to our ward—it was this boy’s family. I had always made a point of visiting each new sister in our ward as soon as I knew she was here. But this time I was in no hurry to go. “How would she feel about me coming?” I worried. “Would she even let me in?” After stalling for a few days, I finally resolved to visit her. With knees shaking and a prayer in my heart, I knocked at her door.
She invited me in, and through the course of our visit, we shared our feelings about that night. “You know,” she said, “I almost asked you that night what church you belonged to because I know that’s the way the Lord would have us do things.”
Oh, the joy I felt at that moment. What if we had called the police and had handled the situation in anger? What would this sister’s feelings have been then? How grateful I was that we had listened to and followed the guidance of the Spirit, especially during this season of the Savior’s birth.