How many of you have ever used those words with your children? I cannot tell you the number of times I have listened to myself utter that phrase. I’ve said them enough that a tape recording to save my vocal cords would be welcome. And I am sure enough that as the words slip from my lips the kids can only replay a Homer Simpson type monologue in their heads, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.”
This week is particularly challenging for me. I’ve had car issues, kid issues, financial issues, and just all around drama. And as I am facing each day with yet another stumbling block the words of a former friend resonate in my head, “An eye for an eye is how you live,” thus equating all of this to something I deserve instead of being a product of life’s journey.
It begs me to ask the question, “Did Mother Teresa never have a stumbling block in her pure and devoted life? Did her journey never get interrupted by drama?” Do not mistake me for Mother Teresa. I am far and way different from her. I am a normal human that has earned no such honor as to be compared to Mother Teresa. My comparison is just to ponder the complications of being human, of life, in the sense of does the most noble of people also suffer from the injustice of being human.
Per Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother_Teresa):
“She has been praised by many individuals, governments and organizations; however, she has also faced a diverse range of criticism. These include objections by various individuals and groups, including Christopher Hitchens, Michael Parenti, Aroup Chatterjee, Vishva Hindu Parishad, against the proselytizing focus of her work including a strong stance against contraception and abortion, a belief in the spiritual goodness of poverty and alleged baptisms of the dying.”
“The shocking news that Mother Teresa and the Sisters of Charity are accused of child trafficking is disheartening. As the old nun listens to the Archbishop and the official from the Indian government, she realizes that the orphanage, and all of God’s work under their direction, will be stopped if the missing child’s file is not found.”
I was shocked to learn how Mother Teresa had also found herself faced with struggles. In a manner it makes me feel better. That maybe instead of all this drama being something I deserve it is just a product of so many people, with different ideas, intermingling in my path. Maybe I don’t deserve all that has transpired in my 42 years. Maybe this is just the path I must walk to get to the glorified ending of my life. A life that I pray would take on a different path but not end soon as I have so much more to life to live.
As I venture down this path I wanted to learn more about the concept of “an eye for an eye”. In doing so I stumbled upon yet another internet resource:
Matthew 5: 38 – 47 states:
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’
39 “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.
40 “If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.
41 “Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.
42 “Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
44 “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
46 “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
47 “If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
I am not perfect. I do make my mistakes. I however do not seek an eye for an eye. Regardless of old or new testament, my pure desire is that of getting along, being accepted, and accepting others. I then must decide through my actions, not just my words, if I will live my life as God would ask or if I will allow myself to sink to a level that would shame Him. And with each step forward, and every mistake, how will I make those better.
When my neighbor’s house burned down we ran out offering assistance, support and love not because they were our friends but because they were our neighbors. We offered this support to those we were friendly with but to those we were not. We offered support without ever expecting something in return. We tried to walk this journey with both families in a manner that would be God driven, inspired. We also walked this journey with others who were impacted by shear force of living here. All of which has turned into something negative for my family in the end. Knowing where we are today if I were asked would I do it again I know, in my heart of hearts, we would make the same choices again without hesitation or fail.
I suppose that there are moments that most of us are an “eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” but to cast such a judgment on someone as a “whole person” would mean you have pondered all their actions, their life’s works, but to do it off only one instance, or even two, would be to say you are God and know all of the person’s heart and desire. So to judge them means you can walk away from them, friend, neighbor, and cast them aside with the trash. Is that honorable? Is that being an eye for an eye person yourself?
Pastor Bill mentioned the innocence of children in his sermon yesterday (which that blog will come shortly) and to cast a child aside because of a notion about the parent(s) that may or may not be true, does that make you a better person (despite being a Christian, Jew, or any other manner of religious person or not religious at all)? When is it that the majority of human’s will stop judging based on one act of person instead of looking at the whole intention and desire behind a person’s actions?
So I have decided to take my words, my thoughts, and put them into action. Who am I to comment on other’s hurtful choices if I allow those choices to influence mine? Ever day I will embrace those that have caused wrong and hurt in a manner which would make God proud. I embrace them to show my children that I can still love my neighbor even though they have cast me, and therefore my children, aside. I do not expect any pleasantness in return. I do not expect kindness. I do not expect change. I will not trespass on their private space, nor is it to say I will welcome them across the threshold of my home (unless to offer emergency aid and care which would come without thought or hesitation), but I will do as God commands:
Leviticus 19:18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.
I will leave it to say…
the next time you hear something negative about a person, hug them even if a total stranger, and mean the message!
the next time someone errs in judgment or action, forgive them even if a total stranger, and mean the message!
the next time someone is hurting, tell them they are cared for even if a total stranger, and mean the message!
the next time you have an opportunity to do something good for someone, stranger or not, step up and mean the message!