Thursday, March 21, 2013

Turn the Other Cheek

All my life I have listened to the teachings of Jesus.  Some make sense instantly.  Others feel right without making a lot of sense.  And others I wonder about.  Take Matthew 5:39, "whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also."  I understood that He was trying to teach us to not be revengeful, to not quickly smite back and ignite the spark.  I've heard folks complain that we are supposed to be in pain, to ignore abuse, or to not resist injury.  I'm sure that was not the intended message, given the loving context.  Christ wants us to be good and be better, not to be beaten down.

Today, I think I got a bit of an idea.

I was putting the twins down for a nap this afternoon, and they were unusually unruly.  They resisted guidance, didn't want to go to bed, were physically aggressive, and wanted to do anything but go to bed.  That's usually when they need a nap the most.  After much wrestling, I finally got Georgie to lay down, and covered him with his blankie.  Freddie was still fighting, so I held him until he quieted, then slowly lowered both of us onto the bed.  I laid on the bed, a twin on each side, holding my breath.  As soon as he discovered that we were in bed, Freddie was mad.  He jumped away from me, knelt on the bed, and slammed his hands into the pillow.

Unfortunately, I was too close, and he slapped my face - hard.  My eye started to water, and I jerked away from the pain.  I turned away from him and snuggled up with Georgie.  I didn't want to be anywhere close Freddie's flailing limbs.  And then the scripture whispered into my mind.  Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.  I was calmed and intrigued, but my cheek still smarted.  How can I use this verse to help me now?  Don't wanna get slapped again, that's for sure.

In spite of my inclination to stay far away, I glanced back at my little terror-child.  His sad, frustrated face was staring at me, hurt by his abandonment.  In that moment, I chose against my natural instinct and chose to root for another person.  I put off my pain in order to help my boy.  I decided to give him another chance.  I knew that there was every possibility that I could get hurt again - and I was prepared for that.  I wouldn't allow him to abuse me, but there could be hurt.

I turned the other cheek and turned towards the one who had hurt me.  I rolled back over to face little Fred.  I smiled and opened my arms to him.  His dejected face changed to a look of hope, then relief.  He crashed into my arms and sobbed.  I held him for a long time, while both our hearts healed.  A slap on the cheek may not seem like that big of a deal.  But it does sting.  And it is tempting to hide, or strike back.

I learned that responding with gentle love, even with the chance of getting hurt, will help us both to grow.  Thanks, Lord, for your little lessons.

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