“Mean people are mean because they’re mean people…” he said. “Being a Christian doesn't oblige you to always be nice. It obliges you to have boundaries.” Our pastor communicated a very liberating sermon this past weekend. In short, it was about being trapped in the “wilderness”, and it’s in these difficult times that our hearts are tested.
I've written about it before, perhaps you remember -- about a family member who’s repeatedly caused scuffles at what should be pleasant gatherings. Upon introductions a few years back, the greeting was cold. Nothing of a hand-shake, smile or “nice to meet you” was extended to me. She's like that of a cruise missile-type of offender – stealth-like enough that no one really notices. Still, several years later, it’s a cynical remark made here and there, under her breath, and easy enough for her to disguise or defend in case she does get caught by fellow family members.
I never could get my mind around it. I never can place my finger on any logically good reason for it. So, a part of me had entirely turned my emotions off as it pertains to her (as though I have a switch), but a recent church sermon was a reluctant acknowledgment I had needed and didn't know it.
I don't stand up to this bully, though others suggest I do. Because Jesus’ teachings don’t imply that if we are victims, then other people need to change. Rather, He puts the responsibility entirely on us. The Bible tells us that if someone hits you on one cheek, present the other. God is instructing us to be courageous and to allow the bully to strike us without retaliating. It’s about being fearless, my friend, not wimpy! Retaliation is weakness.
So, the next time you find yourself in a similar setting, and your face turns hot with ugly feelings, try this little exercise that works for me…Swallow hurtful thoughts, relax your disapproving face, and recite to yourself, ”Only love today. Only love today.”