I like to consider myself a pretty easy-going person. I am relaxed about a lot of things in life and can take a joke, even when it’s at my expense. I like to enjoy life and I don’t let a lot of things get to me, especially when it’s a difference of opinion because I believe everyone has a right to their own opinion, so I don’t get insecure when someone thinks differently to me or thinks my opinion is wrong. All that combined means I do not get offended easily. Don’t get me wrong, I have taken offence to things people have said in the past, but it is not something that happens often. So when it does happen, it means that someone is being a jerk or a line has been crossed and when a line gets crossed, I tend to fire up about it.
I recently found myself in that very situation. Someone made a comment and I got offended. Highly offended. Offended to the point that I was so angry about it that I was struggling to keep my mouth shut and I was on the verge of tears. Not sad weepy tears but raging tears. Angry tears were forming and my jaw was clenched tightly to stop myself from saying what I was really thinking. Because here’s another interesting fact for you; I can be a bit of a hot head and when I lose my temper, it is not a pretty sight. I am not saying this boastfully. I do not feel any sort of pride as it is something that is a real struggle for me and I am forever praying for the ability to keep my wayward temper in check. I don’t like losing my temper because like most people, when I lose my temper I say stupid things. Or I say things harshly and even though we apologise, when something has been said, it can’t be taken back. Again, not something I am proud of and I am regularly handing it over to God and asking Him to take it away. But I digress, so let me get back to the story. Here I was, raging and playing out multiple scenarios in my head of how I would have liked it to turn out and how it could have turned out, all the while feeling thankful that I had possessed enough willpower to not act out any of the scenarios in my head because I am not ready for handcuffs.
So I talked it out with a couple of people to get a bit of a sanity check; was I overreacting or being overly sensitive about? I hadn’t been this offended or bothered by a comment in a long, long time, so all these questions ran through my mind and I wanted to check in with a couple of people around me that I trusted and knew would tell me if I was being a clown about it. I wasn’t. It was a comment that should not have been made. Okay, good to know. So now what? What, if anything, do I do about it? And this is the real battle started and the tension changed because I was now battling with whether or not to take on the issue or let it go. Do I turn the other cheek, like my faith tells me, or do I push back?
I’m not going to lie, I struggle with turning the other cheek sometimes. I have said this before but I desperately want to be like Jesus and live a life where love and mercy flow easily, but I have to say, there are times when I wish He didn’t say things like, “turn the other cheek.” That’s not the right thing to say, I know, but it’s true. Turning the other cheek is rather inconvenient when someone is being a jerk and I would have much preferred it if Jesus had said, “Show mercy, but only when people treat you well. If they act like a jerk, go ahead and get mad” because let’s be honest, it’s hard to show mercy and grace to people who have hurt us or deceived us or said stupid things to us. It is difficult to turn the other cheek when all you want to do is step up and defend yourself, or give someone a high-five to the head. So what does ‘turning the other cheek’ actually look like?
When Jesus said to turn the other cheek in Matthew 5:39, He was ultimately telling us to take the higher road, to not retaliate when we are insulted or attacked. Now, let me be clear on something, I do not for a moment believe that God wants us to tolerate abuse, especially physical abuse, so if you are being abused, I do not believe that God wants you to turn the other cheek and take it. That is not what that verse is about, neither is it what I am talking about. What I think Jesus wants us to do is in this instance is to look up; He wants us to shift our focus to Him and let Him handle it. The bible clearly states in Romans 12:19 that we are not to seek vengeance but to leave it to God instead of reacting and taking matters into our own hands. For most of us, our natural instinct when someone is insulting us or being rude is to bite back but God wants us to not be ruled by emotion but by humility and peace. He wants us to be peacekeepers that reflect His love and grace at all times to all people, even those that push your buttons. And we do that by handing it over to God and letting Him deal with it.
Sounds easy enough, right? Something happens so we put aside all emotion and hand it over to God and walk away whistling a tune into the sunset. Yeah, sounds easy but I can tell you from experience it is not, especially for me. I had to work really, really hard to put aside my hurt and anger and ask God to give me the ability to be a peacekeeper. I didn’t want to be a peacekeeper in that moment but I had made a commitment to follow Christ so I had to follow His commands. You’ll be pleased to know that I didn’t get all huffy and lash out but instead let it go. How? Through prayer. A whole lot of desperate prayer in that moment in the moments that followed. I was pleading with God to place His hand over my mouth and keep my trap shut long enough for me to walk away, and then when I walked away, I continued to pray for the strength to not send a message or an email or make a call to the person about it because the truth was my emotions were running so high that it would have been impossible to have a proper conversation without me yelling (I am super flawed, I know, but love me as I am anyway because it’s just easier.)
I also vented my spleen to people I trusted. When we are in a situation that could get worse we need counsel from the right people and in that moment, I went to the people I knew would speak peace and stop me from being an idiot. I spoke to people that knew me enough to hear my heart and hear past the anger. At that moment I didn’t need someone to add fuel to my already raging fire but it pt a blanket over it and settle the flames, which is what they did. They listened and understood and spoke peace and told me to walk away. They affirmed me but didn’t allow me to wallow in the situation, which was what I needed at that exact moment. Don’t get me wrong, the feelings were still raging, but I was ale to see the situation a little clearer and remind myself of who I was and who I represent; Jesus.
At the end of the day, we don’t need to step into every fight we are invited to. We don’t need to turn up to every fight because despite society telling us to fight back, fighting back is not always the best thing to do (again, I don’t believe we are to stand and get physically abused so that is different altogether,) it requires more strength in some instances to walk away; to put on a smile and let it go and just walk away. It takes a great deal of strength to remain silent in the face of insults or ridicule, but if we want to reflect Jesus, we need to do just that at times. It is not always easy to follow the commands that God has laid out for us but I firmly believe that God is for me, for us, and when all is said and done, I know His commands are for our benefit. God sees what we can’t, so when He tells us to hand things over and let Him deal with it it’s not because He is some sort of control freak, but because He can see past our minuscule visibility to the bigger picture. He wants us to trust Him to handle it, and I find myself regularly reminding myself that God can be trusted and I need to just hand it over. I am figuratively sitting on my hands so that I don’t keep taking it back from God and trying to deal with it myself as I have determined that it is best to let God be God, because I totally suck at it.