Her words do me in. They are sharp. Cutting. Unpredictable yet predictable. Unpredictable because I never know when she will strike. Predictable because it’s happening too often lately.
She says we’re not the target. It’s the situation that causes her to be this way. But those around her are the victims. Easy prey.
I’ve tried to quietly analyze her. What causes her to strike? What is happening in her life that makes her so stressed? Why is she so tightly wound? Do I even want to know?
The thing is. Others notice. Others hear the words. Others avoid her. Her reputation precedes her.
Stress causes people to act out, speak out and mistreat others when it is never their intention. Our differences will divide us. If we let them. We can choose to work and live together in harmony. Give each other space. Help each other out.
Free us from the petty tyrannies of each other. Romans 14:9 (MSG)
I’m the peacemaker of the group. Usually. But sometimes I find myself striking back when the words are too cutting. I find that my sharp words come out when I’ve been wounded. Hoping to inflict as much damage as I’ve received. Even if I’m not the intended target. A person can only take so much. I tell myself.
But does that really give me the right to strike back? Does that make it right? Is getting even ever justifiable?
I’ve begun to realize that I’m prone to getting even when backed in a corner. I say words that I will later regret. My thoughts have a bent toward retaliation. Even though that’s not the way I choose to live or treat people.
I don’t think of myself as evil. I’m protecting myself. That’s what I tell myself. I’m making sure that I’m not walked on. Not trampled on. Not chewed up and spit out.
I want to think I’m better than that. I want others to think I’m better than that. I want to think that others don’t see the real me. I want them to see the good in me. I want them to believe in me. I want them to trust me. I want my reputation to be honorable.
If I have to justify my petty tyrannies to others, then I know I’m doing wrong. Why don’t I repent and choose to do better, be better instead of continually explaining away my shortcomings?
I remember Jesus in the garden when Judas Iscariot betrayed him with a kiss. When Jesus was arrested, he went quietly.
I remember Jesus was put on trial. Listening to the lies. The false charges brought against him. He stood there quietly.
I remember someone shoved a crown of thorns on Jesus’ head. He was beaten and stripped of his clothes. He didn’t fight. He didn’t try to escape.
I remember Jesus was ordered to carry the cross that he would die on. He carried that cross up the hill with the little strength he had left. He was nailed to that cross. He knew he was going to die. I wonder if he wished he was already dead. So he wouldn’t have to suffer more.
He had no strength left to fight, yet he was willing to die so he could save everyone fighting against him. He could have called on heavenly forces to save himself, but he died alone so everyone else could live.
I remember Jesus on the cross. A soldier slit his side. A thief on one cross insulted him. Another thief recognized Jesus and asked for forgiveness. In his dying moments, Jesus forgave him. He told the second thief they would be together in heaven later that day.
Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?” That’s exactly what Jesus did. He didn’t make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles, but waded right in and helped out. Romans 15:2-6 MSG
I see a pattern in my life that doesn’t match up to Jesus’ example. If I’m going to be like him, I need to think like him. I need to act like him. I need to embrace his willingness to forgive at all cost. I need to love others as he did. I need to ask how I can help. I want him to look at me and tell me that he’ll see me in heaven when my time comes.