Have you ever thought about revenge on that ex or some else in your life that hurt you? Have you ever REALLY thought about how it would feel to work them over the same way they hurt you?
I admit there was a time I played it out over and over in my mind, getting a feel for what it would be like if a certain person would fall right into my hands and I could exact my revenge. I visualized it all....after letting them have it I am toasted by the whole world as “right”. People finally understand and I am “vindicated” by everyone. The whole planet agrees with me that this person is a loser and totally deserves the dressing down they got. If I carry the anger long enough I even play out several scenes over and over in my head. You imagine your feelings at seeing them suffer more than anything else. You are happy, thrilled, manically delighted, and insanely victorious. All those thoughts were there, just waiting to spring like a panther at that ONE opportunity to show the creep what a true jerk they really are.
The amount of your anger is directly proportional to the depth of your hurt. The more the person hurt you the stronger your outrage. You are positive that one day this person will get theirs and you will dance like a fool on their grave as you celebrate the occasion and mock them.
Maybe you even secretly pray bad things for them. You don’t “mean” them to be bad prayers of course, just things like, “God I know you told us to pray for our enemies so do me this one favor and give that jerk everything he/she deserves!”
In the depths of my rage I actually prayed that God would let me be the person to kick them into purgatory. I would wear my spike healed shoes just for the occasion. I will walk up to the throne when that miserable oaf is up there whining about why they did this wrong and why they did that wrong and I will demand justice. God will shut them up by booming, “SILENCE!” Then I will share all that horrible idiot did to me in explicit detail. God will then become so angry that red laser beams will shoot out of His eyes and the offender will be publicly humiliated in front of the entire human population while I nod silently. Then this miserable person will be lined up at the rim of purgatory and I will stomp up and kick them in, watch them plummet into the abyss, and then I will laugh myself silly.
Say what you want but you’ve have your thoughts as well. Let’s face it, we always see the wounds we receive as much worse than the wounds we inflict. The people I hurt are just making a big deal out of nothing. They are whiners who need to toughen up. So I had my fantasy about this miserable excuse of a human being. But, what if your wish came true? What if you had a chance to score one and give that horrible waste of oxygen a taste of their own medicine?
I was at a gathering and a person who had hurt me showed up. I groaned inwardly but made it a point to walk by and talk to people all around this individual saying to myself, “Notice I am ignoring you” over and over in my mind. I did this about 4 or 5 times. I realized that this was stupid so I went to talk with a few people I knew and liked. I was standing with a group and one woman was telling some funny story. I was so focused on myself that I wasn’t listening at all but I was laughing loudly and encouraging her to keep talking. The object of my ire was outside the circle and walked up wanting to say something. I saw their eyes looking over at me as I was laughing way too much for the conversation. But I had to make sure they knew I was having a perfectly good time without them in my life. This person had that “look”. You know that look when someone is waiting for others to finish talking and then they will talk to you? Well one of the ladies stepped in front of this person, making a closed circle that sent a powerful message. In cutting in front of the person they were saying, “You are not welcome, go away”. That action cut them out of the conversation entirely. It shut them out. Now no one I was talking to knew my feelings about this person or the situation that had wounded me so deeply. In retrospect I honestly think she didn’t actually see the person at all but this was a moment to savor. This person was pushed away and was cut out out of our group. I had waited months for this moment.
I had felt pushed away, slighted, ignored, and treated like the invisible woman by this person for months. I felt thrown under the bus and left for dead spiritually and this was my moment of victory. I could gloat that this person was not only being ignored but cut out of the conversation entirely. I should be laughing and in my glory. It was all I ever wanted. Give this person a sample of what they gave to me and let them see how they like it.
I continued pretending I was totally listening to the woman speaking and laughed loudly. Truthfully I was so focused on what was happening she could have been reading her grocery list. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw this person’s face fall. They went from smiling to sad. I saw the head turning toward the ground and I saw a flash of hurt pass across their face that I had never seen before. My heart sank. Then the person slowly turned away and moved away from our circle. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to see this person was hurt and very disappointed. I felt like total crap.
All this time all I ever wanted was to smear that smirking face in the dirt and now all I wanted to do was cry. I hated the person I’d become. I was vengeful, hateful, angry, and bitter. I didn’t like what I saw at that moment and I didn’t like that someone was hurt. I wanted to run after them but somehow I just couldn’t. I had cut myself off from this person for so long there was no basis by which to relate–it was just too late. I felt empty. I felt I’d become everything I dislike in humanity. I was no witness to the love of God in that moment and I felt like a real heel.
After the woman finished talking I slowly walked away and decided to leave. I saw the person I had spent all this time despising talking to someone else and I felt pure and total sadness and a deep loss. I will never know what might have been the reason this person wanted want to speak to me. I saw how much energy and time I had wasted on this so-called “injustice” and the victory wasn’t a victory at all. It was a loss. It was a total waste and a loss.
I missed the chance and I know in my heart it will not come again. I was truly hurt so I don’t beat myself up for being angry but would it have been a big deal to ask a couple questions and include the person in the circle? Even if reconciliation is not able to happen then and there is it too much to at least be a decent human being? I felt this offender had often acted like I was invisible and when I turned the tables I realize that I felt nothing but empty and hollow. The feelings I had as I left were horrible. I cried the entire drive home. That look of hurt is burned into my mind and I know I have to forgive myself but I do not want to be the type of person who makes people feel unwanted. I know what that feels like and I know better than to act like that.
Revenge is not sweet. It doesn’t taste good, make you feel better, fix an injustice, or right a wrong. It just compounds the wrong and makes it even worse. Revenge is a bitter poison. When we hold onto our hurts and nurse them it’s like drinking that poison to punish the other person. How does holding onto toxic anger hurt someone else? You always end up hurting yourself more than you hurt the offender. Sometimes they are oblivious that you are angry at all. Slowly it eats at you like a cancer. You then become everything you hate and pour out that poison on everyone around you.
I was not wrong for feeling I’d been mistreated. I was very right that I had been hurt and it was a bad thing for this person to do to me. But how did being a jerk accomplish anything? If we don’t extend a hand and make an effort to at least be civil and decent to those who wrong us, how will the world ever change? If I only give back hate for hate how will this society become a place I want my granddaughters to grow up in and enjoy? Where does it end if not with me?
Forgiveness is not about letting someone off the hook. It’s the opposite. It’s deciding you will not let a person who is acting like a jerk determine how you respond. I will not let that person’s wrong change me into an angry and bitter person. I refuse to harbor resentment. I will not act like a creep, and I will refuse to be negative. I will hold my head high, turn people who hurt me over the God, and move forward. I will pray that God will heal them as we are all wounded in some way. I may need to be careful not to open myself up to be hurt by them again, but I refuse to drink the bitter cup of revenge that makes me center my life around being their victim. I will never celebrate the sorrow, hurt, and deliberate wounding of another. Sometimes we have to be careful how we relate to people who have hurt us but we do not have to let them live in our head and our hearts rent free. Acts of revenge will consume us and that’s not what God wants us to do with our lives. We must let them go and focus on our spiritual growth. We can always offer up our injury in union with all the betrayals and rejections that Jesus endured and have the injustice be transformed into a greater good by the power of our God.
Revenge is not sweet. It’s a cancer and it’s bitter. I’m just sorry I learned this too late to do what's right that day. I encourage all reading this, don’t make that mistake. Don’t let revenge sit in the driver’s seat of your heart.
I need to return to a Christian store I visited last week and see if I can find a plaque I almost bought that day. I want it now and I’m going to buy it. It said something that’s so simple that it’s profound. It’s a powerful reminder to me of my call as a daughter of Christ. I pray its small message will grow in your life as well. I also pray that together we can practice what it says and live out the message of forgiveness and love. Please give it a try and I will too.
I hope to hear from others who learned about revenge/forgivness, and the path to a peace.
Love you Family,