Friday, May 08, 2009

Billboard wisdom

There's a church on the "way" to and from the gym. They put a message on their sign every week; some kind of clever remark or parcel of wisdom.

Today, I saw that it said, "It takes true strength not to retaliate."

Ah yes, in fits of anger we want to retaliate, don't we? Put people in their place? Tell them EXACTLY what we think of them? There are several places in scripture where Jesus seems angry; where he is brutally honest with the Pharisees and religious leaders, but I don't think it could be characterized as retaliation.

No, retaliation really isn't scriptural, no matter how "righteous" we convince ourselves it is. Secret, vengeful, hateful plots only eat you up inside. It's not like any of us are Glen Close and can boil up the pet bunny of the people who have hurt us. All that gets you is more anger and a dead rabbit.

It is better to pursue peace. To make a conscious decision to love. We don't have to keep trusting people who have hurt us; trust is earned. But we are called to love and forgive them. Some might call that being a sucker, but I believe it is the expectation God places on each of us.

I heard my Dad spew venom toward people all of his life, forever complaining about this SOB or that. What did it get him? Did it make a single minute of his life any better? No. I would characterize him as constantly and consistently angry and bitter. I know there is no happiness in that way of living.

Living a life of true strength is preferable to living a life of anger. Yes, anger is a valid emotion, but at some point, you really have to let it go.

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