These are things most people don’t understand or care to try these days. It’s all about self-gratification and getting what people think they “deserve”. Lately, I’ve been struggling with these issues. I proudly claim to be a Christian. Yet, more often than not, I let my temper get the better of me. I want things to be fair in life. I want people to suffer when they make me suffer. I want to feel like I’m important and better than others. After all – I’m highly intelligent, I do good deeds for others whether they “deserve” it or not… Shouldn’t these sorts of things entitle me to better treatment from others? The answer is - No. If everyone in the world looks out for number 1, the world is bound to become a miserable place.
Forgiveness is a harsh thing to swallow. It’s only human to want people to pay for the wrongs they have done to us. Holding it against them when they don’t however just makes you suffer more. Forgive and move on. Easier said than done, for sure, but completely worth doing. I don’t believe in the phrase “forgive and forget”. If you forgive someone the wrongs they have done and forget about it (or at least bury it so deep it’s like you have forgotten, you will not learn from the mistake of having had trusted that person to begin with. You don’t have to hold a grudge against them, just move on cautiously. Whether you deal with that individual later or choose to completely cut them out of your life, depends on how you feel about that person and what they have done to you. I’ve had some people come into my life who did things to me that made me so angry I swore I’d never let them hurt me again. But the kind person inside that believed in “forgetting” let them back in and was soon facing another round of pain when they once again stabbed me in the back, used/took advantage of me, or just plain told me what they really thought of me. I told myself that being a Christian meant I had to keep letting them. Not anymore. I’ve forgiven them. And I’ve moved on. I cut them from my life completely. I could care less what they have to say about me now. I don’t care what they do, who they talk about me to, or how they try to make things out to be entirely my fault. It just goes to show that I’m rising above such petty ways. I feel better not having them around. I feel a freedom like I’m no longer carrying some heavy burden made of worry and stress. I’m not looking over my shoulders, wondering what’s going through their minds anymore.
Understanding… How often do we stop and try to see things from another’s point of view? Do you ever question the person who just cussed you out about how their day has been? The person who told you, you were evil and should just go to hell – did you ask them why? I’m willing to bet – no. You probably just got angry at them and start throwing useless insults back at them. Now I know there are some people that no matter how nice you are to them, they are just out to ruin everyone else’s day. My great great grandmother was a woman like that. She would smile to us kids growing up, but everyone else was sure to taste her bitterness towards life. And from what other family members said – she was like that from a child on. She wanted everyone to be as miserable as she was. Even though she had a great life and people who loved her and cared for her every need, she was never happy. Eventually at the ripe age of 98, she got out her .22 pistol and found the single round she managed to hide from her daughter. Once she was alone, she took her own life. Some people were happy to see her go. People like her can’t be helped. But then, people like her are pretty rare too if you think about it. Everyone has a bad day now and then. Sometimes we just need to step back and put a smile on to those who are being mean or trying to hurt us somehow. A simple smile just might make that person melt the icy treatment and make things better. Maybe they will apologize and explain how they had this or that happen and everything felt like it was going downhill… If not, at least you are the better man in the situation.
Understanding leads us to kindness. I’m not just talking about holding the door open for the elderly woman at the store. I’m not talking about using your manners and remembering to thank someone for the compliment. I’m referring to the kindness we show to those have wronged us. “Kill your enemies with kindness.” Have you ever heard that phrase before? Take a moment to really think about it. What does that mean? Well… let’s say Joe comes in to work in a grouchy mood. He’s complaining about everything, bumping into you spilling your drink down the front of your shirt and instead of saying sorry – he tells YOU to watch where you are going. Your first reaction is what? Slug him! Okay maybe not that drastic… But you while you may not physically hit him, you do throw an insult at him by calling him a jerk or some other name. Now what does that truly accomplish? Nothing. He will continue his day with his increasing attitude and anger and in his mind it’s all going to be justified. Now supposing you take that same scenario and instead of insulting him back you smile and say, “No problem, Joe! Hey, you look a little flustered today. Is everything okay?” First, he’s probably going to be taken aback. You might just be the first person who has made him stop and realize that he’s acting out like this. Then maybe he will break down and tell you what his day has been like. After that, hopefully, he will calm down a bit and take a step back from his troubles to have a little more compassion for those around him. It’s at least worth trying. Smile to those who are persecuting you, be cheerful to those who are stabbing you in the back, and try to reach out to those you think are just going through a tough time. It might just make things better for you in the end.
I’m not perfect. I know I’m going to have days when a punching bag would be a really great investment for me. Especially in a world filled with so many stupid, ungrateful, ignorant self-righteous people who are always throwing their weight around and trying to grasp some feeling of importance. But I know, I’m going to try harder to make my small difference in the world and use that Golden Rule – Treat others the way you would have them treat you. I hope some of you can too.