What to do when you have been spitefully used? Greviously wronged without apology. Worse you have been lied on, the “perpetratee” (yes, refuse the role of “victim“) framed as the “perpetrator”.
How should you respond? Bursting with self-righteous fury, come out fighting, (metaphorical) guns blazing? Hit back harder to deter future attemps? Resentfully regroup and tattle – in fine detail – your grievances to whomever will listen? Or console yourself by taking passive-aggressive opportunities to undermine the abuser’s repute? Will you shrink back, wilt into yourself, and pull a leaden clock of hurt feelings and self pity tightly around yourself? Or rather than getting the perpetrator back, indulge in some navel gazing, playing your mental grievance recordings over endlessly?
Here’s a better way: don’t defend yourself.
Don’t? Yes, DON’T – the ‘n’ and the ‘t’ aren’t typos: “do not defend yourself.
You may think I’m joking….or worse, that I’m a wimp: (and as for you, you have no intention of taking part in a worm-fest, thank you very much…..)
Well, hear me out before you go fight your battle(s): let God do it. Let HIM fight your battles FOR you. Let Him deal with your foe. He can fight for you ever so much better than you ever could.
Fight your own battles and you will become battle-scarred. You will feel unprotected in the heat, in the throes of battle, and you inevitably will feel the need to defend yourself with more and more force. You will feel the need to guard your heart and this in time will become a hardening of your heart. Before you know it, there you’ll be, quick to take offense, holding grudges and nursing a growing thirst for vengeance.
In contrast, your heavenly Father advises “vengeance is mine, I will repay… He is assuring you,” in other words, that HE will deal with it: that HE will redress the wrongs that have been done to you: that you do not need to pursue the matter of your foe getting what s/he deserves.
Resist the impulse to strike back, and turn the other cheek instead? It can’t be denied – this is hard, devilishly hard. It seems impossible when just about everything in you rises up – the hurt, the indignation, the anger, egging you to “don’t take that from anybody”…..
The truth of the matter however, is that God loves a tender heart. By a tender heart, we’re talking about a heart that is yielding to God. A heart that is teachable. A heart that is contrite. We are instructed to have just that – a tender heart – and to beware repaying evil for evil.
The good news is that as hard as this, it is doable – if we are really willing to give it a shot. It is a tender heart that listens to God, and it is a tender heart that is able to “let go and let God”. It is to that very type of heart that God will pay heed: we are promised that a contrite heart God will not despise, i.e. He will listen to the requests of a tender heart.
Tenderheartedness involves a balancing act that is not for the faint-hearted. This is not for wimps, trust me. Reject the role of a victim yet resist vengeance?; Get some gumption – a definite backbone – but concede your defense to another?; Listen to God’s promptings to “let it go” rather than the deafening squeals of injured pride? Only the strong – and let’s be clear, that is not the self righteously able – can do this. Those who are confident in the wisdom of God’s (seemingly) illogical guidance are the ones who will persevere to forbear.
It may be possible, it is true, to refrain from obviously vindictive acts. It is another matter entirely to be able to do so without developing a victim complex or – the other extreme – to secretly hope for the devastating public destruction of your foes.
May the Lord help us all! The heart of this matter is that when I am weak, then I am strong. Lord, help me not wimp out from YOUR way of handling grievances. Amen.
(originally posted 06/26/2014; 686 words)