Save your eyes…

February 5, 2018

The Jack’s Winning Words blog today used a quote from Mahatma Gandhi – “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”  (Mahatma Gandhi)

I thought about that and another popular saying crept into my thinking – “Revenge is a dish best served cold”.

It occurred to me that what Gandhi was saying is that revenge is not a dish to be servedeyes of revenge at all, either within the heat of the moment or in a more calculating way. Seeking revenge for some wrong that one perceives has been committed against them goes directly against the principals of Christianity. In Matthew Chapter 5, verses 38-40, Jesus said, 38 You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[a]39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.”

It is hard in the heat of the moment to turn the other cheek, as Jesus recommended, when you have been slighted or scorned, or in some other way offended. Our reflexive reaction is often to strike back immediately. I hope that your faith gives have enough self-control to stifle that reflex.  It should be less difficult to do so once the moment has passed and you have time to think about it. It is in that time of reflection that you should regain the perspective that your faith gives you and chose to turn the other cheek, instead.

Taking revenge is often followed by regret for having allowed yourself do so. You realizemen hugging that you have lowered yourself to the level of the person who you believe has wronged you and that never feels good. A second evil action does not make right the initial evil action. Rather, reaching out with forgiveness and love to that person not only makes you feel better, but it may help them, too. They may secretly be regretful of the hurt that they have caused and your forgiveness will bring closure to that regret and may bring you a new friend as well. Nothing works better to smother the flames of hate than a blanket of love thrown over the flames.

So, rather than seeking revenge for the wrongs that you believe someone has perpetrated against you, seek out that person and tell them that you forgive them. Bring reading-bibleclosure in your own mind to the incident and perhaps in their mind, too. In a world to often full of people blinded by the “eye for an eye” manta of revenge, remember another old saying, “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.”

Turn the other cheek, forgive and keep your eyes open. The world can be a beautiful place if you have the eyes to see it as such. Have a wonderful and forgiving week ahead.


Turn the other cheek instead…

May 31, 2017

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog gives good advice on how to deal with those who might verbally disabuse you – “Never wrestle with pigs.  You both get dirty, and the pigs like it.”  (George Bernard Shaw).

pig in mudThose who verbally bully others or who’s overt disparaging remarks seek to hurt you are the pigs in your life and they love it when you react to their attacks – when you wrestle with them. Those types of people do what they do in hopes of “getting a rise out of you.” They want you to come down to their level and wrestle in the mud of hate or prejudice with them.

In Matthew 5:39 we read “But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.”

I suppose that this verse could be interpreted literally; however, it is useful in a figurative sense also. Turning the other cheek to those who have verbally caused you harm is choosing not to wrestle with pigs, not to get down in the mud with them.

It is difficult to resist the reaction of lashing back at someone who has just hurled anbully.png insult at you; however, if you can bring to mind Shaw’s advice, there will likely come a smile to your face as you imagine wrestling with pigs. Nothing disarms the would be verbal bully like a smile in response. They just can’t figure out how you can take the abuse and respond with a smile. Resist the urge to throw in a little “oink”, even if that comes to mind.

Remind yourself that the taunts or hurtful remarks are coming from a negative person and heed the advice of Hugh Dillon – “Life is too short to spend in negativity. So I have made a conscious effort to not be where I don’t want to be.” Think about it. Do you really want to be down there in the mud, wrestling with pigs?

Instead, perhaps you can focus upon the words of Dr. Martin Luther King – “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” It is sometimes hard to love thine enemies as we are instructed to do; smiling womanbut nothing that I’ve ever tried to do in response to some personal attack has worked better than showing forgiveness and love to those who tried to drag me down into the mud with them to wrestle in hate.

So figuratively turn the other cheek today and find it in your heart to forgive. Once you have stopped the urge to get down and dirty with the pigs, you must find the strength to forgive them.  H. Jackson Brown, Jr. put it well when he reminds us – “Never forget the three powerful resources you always have available to you: love, prayer, and forgiveness.”

Use your resources today.

Beware the boomerang effect…

May 21, 2015

In Australia the native Aborigines developed a wonderful hunting weapon that would eitherboomerang hit and kill or disable the intended target (usually a small animal or bird) or it would fly back to the thrower, if it missed. I’m not sure what the Aborigines called it, but it was named the boomerang by someone. There are things in life that one can do, or attitudes that one can display, that almost always have what I call the boomerang effect…in other word s they come right back at you, most of the time with ill affect.

Examples include holding grudges, being spiteful or hateful, discriminating against others, bullying others, seeking revenge and more. I’m sure that each reader can probably think of a few more. They all have this in common; while they are actions or attitudes that are directed outward towards others they all reflect badly upon the person; thus they come back to cause harm to the originator. How? By making that person look like the ass that they are behaving like at the time.

hateful boomerangAll of the examples above and probably all that you can think of are negative things or behaviors and seldom does anything good come out of being negative. Secondly, they are all usually directed against someone or some group of people. They are meant to belittle or tear down those people or perhaps to cause them harm in retaliation for some perceived harm that they have caused. So you throw an insult out there or take an action designed to cause them some harm back. Beware the boomerang effect.

Sometimes life is like a sports event where the original infraction goes unnoticed by the refs, but the retaliation is seen by them and a penalty assessed against the person retaliating. One could look at that as being twice injured – once by the infraction and again because of thehockey penalty retaliation. Many time people have no idea what you might be responding to when you strike back in spite and retaliation against someone whom you feel has harmed you in some way. All that the innocent bystander sees is you being nasty to someone else. You come off as being an ass; and, to tell the truth, you are because you chose not to forgive and forget, but to try to get even. The boomerang effect has gotten you.

Life is not a zero-sum game, where there must always be a loser for every winner. One should not keep score in life of all of the perceived slights, or injuries or embarrassments that one suffers at the hands of others, be they real or imagined. Rather keep score of the number of times that you forgave that other person for their actions or hurtful remarks. Let them see that what they may have thrown at you missed the mark. Many times those things will boomerang back on them anyway, as others observe their behavior (and yours) and decide for themselves whether they want to be hateful and ugly or at peace with themselves and forgiving of others. Let them deal with their own boomerangs. Don’t add to the hate that already in the air by tossing your own boomerang out there, too.

I have found in life that nothing deflates the purveyors of hate and discontent more and faster than aiming their vitriol at someone who refuses to rise to the bait. Be the person who puts the flower into the barrel of the gun pointed at them, rather than pull your own gun and starting a battle. If you must fling boomerangs out there make them positive compliments to others and shows of affection towards others. Those tend to come back at you, too. Have a great day and watch what you throw out there.

What to do if they won’t forgive you…

May 20, 2015

A follower of this blog wrote to me recently with this problem –

I read your words of wisdom faithfully. I have to ask how to handle issues when you’ve apologized and the people you apologize to don’t accept your apology. Does one keep trying or just give up? Family members choose to hold grudges, etc. Usually, the person apologizing doesn’t even know what they did wrong. Curious. Thanks much.

Well, I’m flattered that you consider my musings on various topics to be words of wisdom; however, I not a counselor; I’m just an observer of life who has experience with some things, who has opinions on some things and who just likes to write about lots of things.

angry coupleI have to start by saying that my life experiences lead me to disagree about your last full sentence. I suspect that the person apologizing knows exactly what it is that they did wrong or that caused the problem. Sometimes what they did to cause the consternation may be something that they don’t think of as being wrong; however it is perceived that way by others in the family. So go back and re-think what it was that caused the issue with others in the family. The issue of right and wrong is sometimes a matter of interpretation or perspective and quite often there is denial on the part of the party being accused of being wrong. Accept the fact that whatever was done was seen as “wrong” by others and then you can move towards an apology and forgiveness.

The other thing that experience tells me is that sometimes the people apologizing do so in such an off-hand or flip way that the apology itself is offensive, because it is not considered to be genuine. Saying something like “Oopsie, my bad” is not mentoringreally apologizing; it is trying to smooth over things with a flip statement. This may again grow out of the perception of the wrong-doer that what they did wasn’t really wrong. The young especially have a hard time with that, when the offense is the breaking of some parental rule that they think is arbitrary or unfair.  Remember that a wrong may be something that someone else perceives as wrong or an offense against them.

When dealing with something like this situation, you can actually use a variation of a technique that is taught in business schools for dealing with objections in a sales process. at least this might provide you with some structure for proceeding.

First, identify the issue. Don’t assume that you understand the issues involved, especially not from the perspective of the people who are offended or angry. So the first step is to clarify what it is that they are angry, hurt, disappointed or offended about. Have them tell you what they are angry about. Accept that, from their perspective, whatever you did was wrong.

The second step would be to re-phrase the issue back to the people who are angry and get their agreement that you do indeed understand their perspective on the issues.  Put into words what you think the offense was and see if those who are your accusers agree that you have identified the “wrong” that you have committed. While you’re at it, accept that it was wrong in their eyes. This may take a few iterations, because you may not understand their perspective at all in the beginning. This step also is worthless unless you finally admit that what you did was wrong at some level, especially to those who feel that they were wronged. You cannot move forward from the position of, “What I did wasn’t wrong.”

sad looking manThe third step would be to express a heartfelt apology for the actions of yours that caused their reaction. You might also want to express what you learned from the experience and indicate what you will do to make sure that you don’t make the same mistake again. Perhaps you might even have to outline a plan of restitution, if your actions caused real damage or loss. This step is important for two reasons – it shows those who were upset that you are truly sorry and it provides you with the life-lesson knowledge about what was wrong and how not to repeat the mistake.

The final step is to test for acceptance of your apology and forgiveness of your offense. You may have to ask bluntly, “Can you forgive me?”  Some amount of time may have to pass before you actually get the acceptance and forgiveness that you are seeking; especially if what you did to cause this situation was really grievous. If you’ve done step three properly it will be hard to “hold a grudge”, but don’t expect everyone to just forget about it for quite some time.

One should never just give up on other people, especially family members. If the four steps above don’t work to bring
closure to your situation, perhaps you need to take the situation to a higher authority. Ask your family members to pray withpraying you about this and seek their forgiveness as you seek it from God. You know that at least one participant in that prayer is going to forgive you if you ask for it. If your family is not one that prays together, you can still seek forgiveness from God and ask also for His help with your family members. You need to get right with yourself and with God, before you can truly seek the peace with your family that you desire. Remember to start by admitting that you have done was wrong and ask for His forgiveness and help.

I hope this helps a bit with the situation that precipitated the question. Life is filled with missteps and wrongs that we do or that we perceive are done to us. Learning to deal with them in a way that brings closure and then moving on with life is an important step in the process of growing up. Knowing where to turn for the help that you need sometimes is important, too. Fortunately, that is an easier thing to figure out. He is always there when you need Him.

Three little words that can change your life… I forgive you (7 of ?)

March 27, 2014

Sometimes the simplest little things can have big impact on our lives. In this series of posts I examine very short sentences (each just three words long) that can make a difference in your life. If you have a three word sentence that changed your life somehow, share it with me and I will share it with the world.

I won’t pretend to understand the unbelievable grief that can overcome you at the loss of a loved one, especially if the loss was caused intentionally or unintentionally by someone else. We see it on the news all the time – horrific accidents that leave people dead, many caused by drunk drivers, or shootings either intentional or of innocent bystanders. We sympathize with the people dissapointed ladyleft behind and share some of their pain as they weep on camera for the ever present and callously intrusive media.

Occasionally, usually months later, there will be a follow-up story about the person who caused the death being sentenced for whatever charges were brought, from manslaughter to negligent homicide to murder. In many of those cases the convicted perpetrator faces the family of the deceased and apologizes for what happened (some do not). In a few cases I have watched the reports as the remaining family members express forgiveness to the accused. I have always wondered at that. How could they, while still in mourning and with obvious grief still a part of their lives, bring themselves to forgive the person who caused the death of their loved one?

Often the media will pursue these people with that very question, not content to have been an interloper in the original incident. The reporter shoves a microphone into the faces of the family and asks them how they could do that, how they could forgive the killer of their loved one? There seems to be an interesting and telling similarity in many of the replies, “How could we not forgive?”

Even as I can’t get my head around their level of initial grief, I have difficulty assimilating that reply, too. I know that it is the right reply, the only reply that makes sense in the long run. It is what the teachings of our religious beliefs prepare us to do, yet it is hard to imagine in practice. It requires strength of character that most of us will never have to test and I think most are suspect of in ourselves. Yet, what is the alternative?

Holding on to anger and grief and continuing to direct it against someone else does nothing good for you or them. Letting go of those feelings by forgiving the other person brings closure to things and frees you to move on in life. It may have a positive effect on the other person, too. We occasionally see stories that follow up years later about how the original perpetrator turned their life around, in part because they were forgiven for their tragic mistake.

As we look at how to apply this in our more mundane daily lives, there are many little things that can happen – a partner forgetting an anniversary or other special occasion, a spouse who comes home drunk or who stays out too late, an agreement in which hurtful words are exchanged. In those cases, too, it is important to be able to say, “I forgive you” and move on. Now, this is not to say that the abused spouse or partner in a bad domestic situation should just keep saying I caringforgive you and allowing the abuse to continue. That is not the case and help should be sought in that case. There may be an opportunity later for forgiveness.

But for those other, minor things in life that are disappointing or angering, It is important to be able to forgive and, if not forget, at least move on. Most of the time the forgiveness can be silent but sometimes it is important to say it out loud and to the other person. Sometimes they’ve been wallowing in remorse over the incident and didn’t know how to make things right. Saying, “I forgive you” makes it right on many different levels.

Are you carrying around some burning little ball of bitterness over something, some rancid little dollop of hate or disappointment that you can’t seem to get rid of? Try this. Confront the person that caused this and say, “I forgive you.” If you can bring yourself to say that and mean it, a great weight will be lifted from you and you will know peace and be able to get on with life. While only God can forgive our sins, it is within our own power to forgive each other. From my tip from a couple of days ago – just do it.

Eleven Hints for Life – 8 of 11

March 17, 2014

8. Always put yourself in the other’s shoes. If you feel that it hurts you, it probably hurts the person too. – Unknown

Well, this hint seems to be close to a no-brainer, or is it? While this sounds like a simple interpretation of the so-called Golden Rule; another quote from George Bernard Shaw may cause you to pause and think a bit on this one.

colorful shoes “Do not do unto others as you expect they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same.”

What Shaw is saying to us is important to us because we are all want to put ourselves in those others shoes by interpreting the situation for them through our on perspective. I suspect that hurtful things are hurtful no matter what perspective you view them from and because of that our hint for the day is valid; however, in many other cases of trying to put ourselves in the other persons shoes we simply are not operating from the same frame of reference as they are and we may be way off base.

Shaw’s advice is particularly true when you try to cross cultural boundaries. If you did not grew up African-American or Asian or Indian or whatever the culture of the other person may be, then you cannot easily slip into their shoes and make any kind of a value judgment of the situation or how that person would react. Shaw was not talking just about tastes, it’s about your frame of reference to the world and how that may vary greatly from someone else’s.

I found a good read on this topic by a PhD who happened to write for the site. He identified 8 factors that impact communications when you start crossing cultures. They are:

Cultural Identity

Racial Identity

Ethnic Identity

Gender Role Identity

Individual Personality

Social Class Identity

Age Identity

Roles Identity

You can click here to read the whole article. He identifies himself as ecoggins at the site and in his bio. What ecoggins is saying is that you might have to slip into 8 pairs of shoes to truly understand where that other person is coming from, which is really to say that it is impossible.

I guess it is best to leave today’s hint alone at its most simple level – if you feel it would hurt you if someone said it or did it to you, then there is a good chance that it angry womanwould hurt someone else, too; so, don’t do it.

Maybe the thing to focus upon in today’s hint is to ask what is motivating the thing that you were about to do or say about (or to) someone else that might hurt them. What kind of behavior on their part is driving you to do or say anything that you would feel hurt about if someone did or said it to you?

If you stop and ask that question; maybe you can then refocus upon what you really need to be expending your energy upon; which is to find a way to forgive them for whatever has driven you to this point, so that you can move on with your life. Start by admitting that you don’t understand their point of view (their frame of reference on things) well enough to understand what made them do whatever it is that you are thnk about itreacting to. Perhaps they did not stop and think about how it might hurt you. But causing a hurt back is not the answer.

One of the least understood but most liberating of human reactions to bad things that others do to us is our ability to forgive. You can see it in news stories of the loved ones of a victim of a heinous crime forgiving the person who committed the crime. The initial reaction is to ask, how could they do that? Once you understand the power of forgiveness; the real question is, “how could they not do that?” Forgiveness is so important to our well-being that the staff at the Mayo Clinic posted an article about it. To read what they have to say, click here.

So, this hint for life can serve a couple of purposes. It can hopefully prevent you new shoesfrom doing or saying something hurtful; and, it can help you deal better with someone who has done or said something hurtful to you. Either way, you get to try on a new pair of shoes, and who doesn’t like to do that.