HOW CAN WE turn the other cheek, responding out of power rather than force in ordinary encounters with those who may be opposing us? If someone makes an insulting remark we usually react in one of four ways:
(1) instantly retaliating, returning insult for insult;
(2) launching into defensive explanations;
(3) falling silent and brooding; or
(4) deflecting the hurt by making a joke out of it.
But if we can take a moment to breathe slowly and deeply and then respond from God’s power, we can look the offender in the face and say quietly and firmly, “I wonder if you really meant that in the way it sounded. If so, it’s time we talk about the real issues.”
If someone turns aside a serious conversation with flippant, inappropriate remarks, instead of giving a weak laugh or responding irritably, we can turn the other cheek of empowered dignity, turn our full attention to the joker, and say thoughtfully, “Is there something about this conversation that makes you uncomfortable? Let’s look at this together.”
If at our workplace or at home someone gives a sharp, cutting criticism, we can meet it directly, saying, “The way you are saying this is hurtful, but I’m trying to hear the real gist of your criticism. I think I might learn something from your point if we can talk about it in another way.”
This way of responding (and I have a long way to go learning it!) rises from our own sense of worth, combined with willingness to learn and grow. It is not submission, nor is it aggression or defensiveness.
– Flora Slosson Wuellner
Forgiveness, the Passionate Journey
From page 55 of Forgiveness, the Passionate Journey: Nine Steps of Forgiving Through Jesus’ Beatitudes by Flora Slosson Wuellner. Copyright © 2001 by Flora Slosson Wuellner. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.
Think of a time when this kind of response described above would have helped the situation. Share your thoughts.
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
John 6:15, NRSV
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This week we remember: Maximilian Kolbe (August 14).
(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)
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