Revenge? We’ve all got better things to do–like making art
We read in the daily news that revenge leads to an endless spiral of destruction and death. The Bible has plenty to say about vengeance and we’ll get to that later.
I’ve seen it first hand. Well, maybe not total destruction and death but it was bad enough to make me stop and think.
This goes back to dancing school in the seventh grade. I arrived late and two extra boys were sitting it out, waiting for a partner. The teacher made them shoot for who would dance with me; Alan Simenek ended up dancing with me and said to everyone within earshot; “So I lost!” This is while I have to dance with him! He thought it was so funny he said it about twenty times. How could I have responded to that with dignity and also utterly quash him–or at least make him feel bad?
After fifty years do you think I can forgive a man for what he said as an awkward 12 year old? You think? As Barbara Bush would say, why am I messing my beautiful mind with that?
Here are two incidents that convinced me to get out of the revenge business.
When I was young I had a bad boyfriend. He wasn’t physically abusive but he thought the way to keep me was to make me think nobody else would want me. He was also unfaithful. My self confidence took quite a battering but I eventually got out of town and found a much nicer boyfriend. I spent many years thinking of what would be a fit punishment for that bad boyfriend. A slow painful death? Living in the street? He went on to marry and have children but his wife left him for a woman. That would have hurt his ego in a big way. In all my vengeful fantasies I hadn’t come up with that one.
When my kids were little my fellow playground parents and I tried to get the city to make some improvements in a local park–nothing fancy, just self closing gates and some clean sand. Other people in the neighborhood felt we were invading their personal space and they fought back with a vengeance. They hung signs on my building accusing me of financing my lavish life style by embezzling park funds and sent me a registered letter demanding to see our books. One gravel voiced dame called us “the mothers–and I use the term in the pejorative.” I had plenty of sleepless nights thinking up the perfect response. However, lately, and this is 25 years later, I’ve seen the ring leader around the neighborhood and she has something wrong with her back so that she walks bent over completely at the hip, like–a wicked witch. I swear, I wouldn’t have wished that on my worst enemy, which she sort of was.
Saint Paul talks about this in his letter to the Romans. Now, a lot of people, especially women, have issues with Paul, because he said women should keep silent in the church and should submit to their husbands. I know of one eminent clergyman who grew up knowing nothing of Paul because his church lady mother literally cut all of Paul’s letters out of the family Bible. But, like everything interesting in life, Paul is complicated. Many of his letters open with cheerful and loving greetings to the women who, even in his day, were the backbone of the church. So I’m going to forgive him for what I don’t agree with and not reject him completely.
This is what he says about Vengeance.
“Love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Live in Harmony with one another…do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. If it is possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine,’ says the Lord.”
I have seen with my own eyes that when the Lord says; “Vengeance is mine,” He doesn’t mess around.
But maybe I shouldn’t blame the Lord. Maybe meanness is a scorpion that curls back upon itself and the punishment for meanness is living a life of meanness.
And that’s so not me and you!
Do you have a revenge fantasy taking up space in your mind? Post it here. Get it off your chest, free your beautiful mind and
(Here’s another motto for your bulletin board)