“…but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” The Christian principle of turning the other cheek is hardly ever seen in action because it is simply very hard to follow. When wronged and hurt, how many of us stop and think, “Well now that you’ve called me fat and ugly, please call me stupid too.” No, we get angry and we want to extract revenge and we want to we want to return the hurt.

 

It is especially most difficult to turn the other cheek when we are hurt by those we consider to be our friends, because we don’t expect them to smack us in the first place. In fact, we expect them to be there to run to when we are smacked by those who are not so close.

 

Ironically enough, it is hardly ever the stranger who randomly comes over and knocks you on your behind. Instead, it usually turns out to be your buddy who you thought would have been there to help pull you back up… and now according to this principle of turning the other cheek you’re supposed to let them kick you while you’re down too. But why behave in this masochistically sounding manner?

 

Over years of analysis and practice, I’ve found that turning the other metaphorical cheek requires a lot of tolerance and patience. Letting it go when someone has hurt you does not mean walking away and pretending nothing happened while you’re brewing with anger and hurt on the inside and complaining to everyone willing to listen. Letting it go, for me anyhow, has come to mean understanding my own imperfections and shortcomings so that I may show tolerance in the face of the imperfections of others. Ok, so maybe your friend so-and-so can be a real thoughtless jerk sometimes, but face it… so can you. So can I and everyone else on the face of this planet. (And since it is far more difficult to see our own faults than it is to see the faults of others, that just really means that I’m a bigger jerk than I think I am or can be.)

 

Over time, I find my expectations of others falling lower and lower by the day, and it’s not because I fear being disappointed… no, it’s because I know you’re busy or stressed out or annoyed or tired or just don’t feel like talking or you’ve decided that you can’t stand me or a million other things that can lead you to do one thing or another that will hurt my feelings. And because I know all these things, I will not be sad or angry when so-and-so does this or that. Life is much too hard for us to hold it against one another.

 

I find that this raises the value of the small, nice things that people do. Someone saying hello generally makes my day. An ear willing to listen is worth 100 times its weight in gold. Concern and care (although sometimes negatively manifested) is a God-given gift to be held in high esteem and lauded with gratitude.

 

I know I have a long, long way to go on this path of mine, but after discovering the joy in patience and tolerance and turning the other cheek, I’m quite content to travel for as long as I need to…

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