“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” – Matthew 5:43-48 (NIV)
(Mia and Merritt together in 2010 - age 6)
With Middle School in plain view of Mia’s sights (yes, she’ll be 13 this September and will start 7th grade!), we’ve already started experiencing pre-teen drama. Yuck. What I gratefully avoided with my two boys is crashing into our lives now like a dumptruck driving through a nitroglycerin plant! (Christmas Vacation is one of our favorite movies.)
A couple of years ago, when Mia and her cousin, Merritt, were both 10 years old, the three of us were eating at a restaurant together. They started telling me a situation with one of their friend’s sisters who was acting, well, let’s just say she was being ridiculous about a situation involving a boy. These sweet and innocent little girls could not understand why this girl, one that they knew quite well, was being so irrational.
Mia said, “I thinks she’s just gone crazy.” Merritt laughed in agreement and said, “There’s really no other explanation.” I responded, “It’s more than likely because of hormones.”
They both stopped eating, looked at me in confusion, and Merritt said, “What’s a hormone?”
Oh, boy. Well, I stepped into it now. Might as well follow through.
I then explained to them how hormones in our body worked and how they start going crazy in our preteen years; that God designed our bodies to go through this change on purpose; that girls go through this change a little earlier than boys do; that this is the beginning of the process in which God is getting our bodies ready to have children later in life.
Ew! (I remember having that same reaction!)
I went on to explain also that, even though our bodies are going through a physical change at that time, it also effects our emotions. I told them that they will soon start to think that their moms aren’t as cool as they once thought (Ugh!) and that they might even want to talk back and be disrespectful to me and Jessica (Double ugh!). And the final thing I talked to them about was how their friends will start to interact with them, that they needed to get ready for drama, unkind words and attitudes from them and even downright meanness! In other words, Mean Girls - here we come.
The above scripture is quite hard to swallow, especially in light of yesterday’s massacre in Orlando. Lord, how in the world can we possibly consider turning the other cheek to downright evil, to people who hate just because someone’s lifestyle, beliefs, color of their skin, or god is different from their own?!
Do you really think these differences are a surprise to God? Do you believe He didn’t know what was coming in the future when Jesus spoke those words to the audience on that mountain? Let me assure you: Nothing surprises God. Nothing.
Even though these sweet little girls are quickly maturing into young ladies who will have to deal with adult issues sooner than I’d prefer, it is my responsibility as a Christian mother and aunt to instruct them in the ways of righteousness. Lately, Mia has experienced quite a few of these instances, especially with her cell phone. Preteens and teens can be cruel and unkind one day and sweet and loving the next. Words can seem especially harsh when viewed in a text message. Many times over the last few weeks, I have instructed Mia to just not text back. Silence can go a long way in diffusing an argument.
The world may think that, as Christians, our lack of engaging in a conflict is weakness. But how much harder is it to NOT retaliate against someone who has hurt you physically or emotionally when your “hormones are raging” and when your emotions are in control than it is to turn around and walk away or not text back when everything in your body is screaming, “let me at ‘em!”?
God gives us that strength.
In Gratia Burnham’s book, “In the Presence of My Enemies”, she describes her and her husband’s horrifying ordeal of being captured in the Philippines and being held at gunpoint while traveling on foot over treacherous terrain for over a year. Her husband was eventually murdered right before her eyes as she was being rescued. Would you believe that she prayed for her captors every day? She prayed that they would find Jesus Christ and that she would be used to help them find Him. She didn’t hate them. She felt sorry for them because they didn’t know Christ. What an inspiration! (And I highly recommend this book by Tyndale Momentum.)
From unkind or critical words to unjustified murder of unsuspecting victims—turning the other cheek is downright tough. We must trust that justice is coming. If it doesn’t come on this earth, it will come when Jesus returns.
I Thessalonians 1:6-7 says, “God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.”
The most powerful weapon we have is prayer. Let God be God. Aren’t you glad you don’t have to be?
Have a merciful week!