Choices and Influences
I have decided that there are far too many choices to make in life. And I’m not even talking paper or plastic choices here. I’m talking about choices you make in how to live your life. The big ones. Things like Carnivore or Herbivore. Christian or Satanist. Being a kind person or being a mean person. Holding doors open for old people or tripping them with their own canes. Stuff like that. The thing is, a lot of these choices are not one-time choices. They are choices that we make minute by minute and they determine who we are.
I’m in a situation right now where someone that I consider a friend has been incredibly inconsiderate, rude, and thoughtless toward me, and, unfortunately, it’s not the first time this has happened. (Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.) Now, I have several advisors telling me to give back to her what she’s given to me: impoliteness, thoughtlessness, and the like. With this option presented to me, I have a decision to make. I can either accept their advice, or I cannot. Actually, in reality, I have two choices to make. I have to choose, in addition to how I choose to treat the situation, who and what my influences are.
I say that I am a Christian. According to Wikipedia, the term Christian means “belonging to Christ.” If I belong to Christ, I have to accept his authority and influence on my life. So, I must ask myself, that tired, old cliché, “What would Jesus Do?” I believe that Jesus would act in grace toward this woman. He would understand that she is going through a rough time, is very stressed, and may not understand that her actions are unkind and hurtful. He would forgive. I don’t want to forgive. I want her to know how much she has hurt me. I want her to feel bad for behaving toward me the way she has. I want justice. But Jesus never promised justice, and He certainly never demanded it. So, when those people tell me to return her hurtfulness with hurtfulness, I have to listen for the much quieter voice of Someone much wiser. He tells me to forgive, so I will, even though I don’t want to. And when others ridicule me for showing grace, I have to remember it is not up to me to defend myself. I show grace because I have been shown grace and will need to be shown grace in the future. Perhaps, one day, I’ll be in a situation similar to what she is facing now, and I will require the grace of those around me. Perhaps even she will be required to show me grace, which I hope she does. And if those around me think me weak, so be it.
I’m not trying to toot my own horn here. My actions betray my heart. Outwardly, I have forgiven, but inside, that’s not necessarily the case. But sometimes, being a Christian is a matter of will, not emotion.
“He read the words he had flung at Grace with such venom. ‘Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.’ And beside them, written in his mother’s now-familiar hand were the words, ‘I struggle daily to forgive and cannot. Help me surrender to your boundless love.'” (“A Memory to Keep”-Ginny Aiken)
Whose voice will we choose to hear? The voices of the Eliphaz’s and Bildad’s of the world (like those wise-guys from the book of Job)? Or the still small voice of the Savior?