Monday, November 18, 2013


Everyone has been there before.

You shared your feelings. You entrusted someone with information, ideas or even emotions and they did the unexpected with it. They wronged you in a way you never saw coming. They took advantage of your trust, exploited your ideas or emotions and left you with the feeling of betrayal in your gut, a wound to the heart and a knife in your back.

Betrayal is a funny emotion because it is the intersection where hate and love collide, a cluster of confusion. Naturally, anger is the love-child that gives birth in your heart right after this emotional concussion occurs and is usually the band-aid of choice for your battle wound. Quite frankly, anger feels good, it feels right when you are wronged.

And then comes revenge.

The hit TV show “Revenge” is about a young woman whose father was used as a scapegoat for a crime he did not commit. The girl, who was a child at the time, then experienced a series of repercussions such as being placed in a mental institution and juvenile hall, at the expense of her father’s accusers. What makes the show interesting is her ability to get back at every individual who played a role in her father and her own misfortune. She is now an adult who has changed her identity and equipped herself to get full-on revenge.

The show is naturally set to get you on the pro-revenge bandwagon. You want this woman to get even at all expenses, but, as the story unfolds, there are moments when things do not go according to plan. Innocent people get in the way of the cross-fire and she at times loses control of outcomes.

As a Christian I am called to leave vengeance in God’s hands. I cannot sit here and tell you that this is something I do with a genuine smile or throw parties over. I can’t say that it is something that comes easy or naturally for me; this is God asking for TOTAL and complete control! It means that when someone does me wrong, I am not to retaliate in my anger. This is the exact opposite of what my human nature, my flesh, wants to do and it is no task for the weak, or heavy-fisted, fully-mouthy individual. This takes skill! It is something that needs to be mastered with practice, something that needs to be in use often.

In Romans Chapter 12, Paul reminds us of this: “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

I remember a time in my life when I had to give God full control over my hurt and angered heart. Someone hurt me so badly, and I wanted to see them hurt as bad as they had hurt me. I wanted to see that person in as much pain as I felt. How dare they make me feel this way? How dare they violate my emotions like that? Who did they think they were? Did they not know my value or worth? But what was I to do with all of that ANGER?! It was a process, and something I didn't realize at that young age is that life is a LONG road. I know there is a cliché that says “life is short,” but it is honestly long. Years go by and seasons change. While God took me through a process to help my hurt and anger (a different blog for a different day), I didn’t realize that there were years and years ahead of me and that other individual. While I would have loved to retaliate, I didn't.

Years later, I got wind of some devastating news about that individual. By this time, my heart was healed and I felt extremely bad for them. Boy did God change me! I was taken back by my reaction to the news. I couldn't feel pleasure or satisfaction for the bad news. I couldn't indulge in it. It made me sad. In no way am I saying that what happened to this individual was a direction repercussion of what they did to me in the past. We don’t know all of the wonders of God and how He decides to 'repay' (that is not for us to know), but I do know that I was changed and that my feelings for that person were not the same anymore and I had truly forgiven them.

I believe that when we take revenge and take things into our own hands, we run the risk of making things worse. Just like in the TV Show, there are innocent bystanders and things don’t always go exactly as planned; and even if they do, now that the score is even—who really wins? Now someone else is hurt, if not more. Did you change the past? There may be temporary satisfaction, but in the long-term, what does retaliation really earn? Respect? You can get that without getting even. You confront the person who hurt you, hold them accountable and set boundaries for the future. Control? You probably need less of that anyway. When we are angry and we retaliate, we go for “the kill,” and that's not playing fair. You have an anger-filled agenda---and that makes you worse than the person who offended you in the first place, and, personally, I refuse to be worse!

When God has the control, he is just. He repays justly. In the midst of anger, who can play fair?

So this time around, as hurt as I am, as unwelcome as I feel, as misunderstood as I may be, I will not retaliate. Revenge will just be a show that I watch on Hulu and not something I put into practice in my life. I can rest in knowing that God has my back and he has this handled. I believe that there is long, unknown road ahead of me and I definitely know that seasons change. The time will come when things will be different.

I refuse to be worse.

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