June 12, 2010

when you say nothing at all

"an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." mahatma gandhi

"you've got mail" is one of my favorite movies of all time. first, meg ryan/tom hanks combos are always fantastic. second, this movie by far captures meg ryan's best phase of hair. and third, new york city is one of my favorite places in the world.

but besides all the cheesy reasons for its likability, this movie has a line in it that always gets under my skin when i watch it and makes me think about it for days. "when you finally have the pleasure of saying the thing you mean to say at the moment you mean to say it, remorse inevitably follows."

this statement has proven to be true countless times in my life. i'm sassy and outspoken, and i speak far too quickly without tasting my words and thinking of their affect. if my life were to have a soundtrack, "my stupid mouth" by john mayer would be a top song. and i'm afraid sometimes i value my love for wit and sarcasm over its recipient. in short, i fail...a lot.

it's those carefully cultivated zingers that sound like you mixed a bunch of words from the dictionary together into a perfect blend of shabam. it's having the satisfaction of giving someone the silent treatment. slamming a door in someone's face. ignoring a text message. not returning a call. doing the exact same thing the person did to you back to her or him. saying the key phrase or doing the perfect action that radiates nothing but pure "boo ya." and what's funny is for a brief moment after such a "victory," we think we've really won.

and then comes the aftertaste. finding out what you thought would taste so sweet and rewarding is in reality sour and unsatisfying. in fact, you feel worse than if you had not reacted at all and had just taken it. you realize you just bashed someone who cares about you and looks out for your best interests. you realize the silent treatment is not so fun when it's working both ways. you realize doing exactly what someone did to you is the typical response and doesn't prove the point you were trying to make at all.

i have found in my moments of sheer humanity, what puts me in my place like none other is not retaliation. it's not getting exactly what i deserve rubbed in my face. it's not hearing that key phrase so delicately put. it's not getting a strong dose of the silent treatment. it's the other person being kind to me in my moment of hideousness. it's the other person reacting with grace and dignity that silences me and makes me not only feel ashamed but actually, truthfully...sorry.

it's the person that keeps talking to me. the one that continues to be my friend. the one who apologizes when he has nothing to apologize for that makes my mouth fly open with utterly no words. and if you know me, that might be considered a miracle.

it's mercy when i least deserve it. it's grace when i have been disgraceful. i've heard it described: grace is getting what you don't deserve, and mercy is not getting what you do deserve. and what a blessing it is when you know exactly what you do deserve and you don't get it.

and in return, when i am on the receiving end of the offense, it's treating that person with kindness and not retaliating to whatever form of "punishment" i might receive. it's not bad-mouthing, name-calling, or place-putting. it's realizing that sometimes you do say or do it best to the other person when you say or do nothing at all to retaliate. it's meekly and humbly being kind to that person and letting GOD take care of the rest.

if anything, i've learned that when we take vengeance and retaliation into our own hands, we leave no room for what GOD has in mind. and personally i would much rather HE fight my battles than for me to try to do it myself. an eye for an eye really says nothing to the other person than that we are too weak to forgive. as ghandi also said, "the weak can never forgive. forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." it is when we react with the love of CHRIST that we show our true strength.

"my dear brothers, take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires." james 1:19-20

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