Sunday, December 20, 2009

Who is righteous? And does it matter?

I've been wanting to post this for a while, but honestly, I've been ashamed. One of the enemies I struggle with, someone I've posted about before, attacked me recently. And I violated my promise to myself that I wouldn't say anything back. Yep, I made a snarky little comment because the hurt I'd been keeping in finally boiled over. It wasn't the right thing to do. Sure, it felt good for a moment, especially because others backed me up, but inside, I had the sick feeling of knowing that in being right, I was wrong. Terribly wrong.

In our critique group last week, one of my critique partners brought a piece she said was rough and she didn't know what to do with it. I don't know if it will ever be something more than just a simple outpouring of her heart, but it touched me profoundly.

She quoted Ecclesiastes 7:16 "16 Do not be overly righteous, Nor be overly wise: Why should you destroy yourself?"

The point she made with it was that in her argument with someone, she was right. But the more she tried to press her point, the worse things got for her. Even though she was right, she was wrong to demand to be acknowledged as right. In being righteous and wise, she destroyed herself.

I realized, as I let the words hit me in the heart, I was being overly righteous with my enemy. She is wrong. On a lot of levels. But that does not give me the right to act wrongly towards her in my pursuit of justice. Because yes, I want for her to acknowledge that she has mistreated me. I want for her to offer me a sincere apology for all the things she's done to me. Honestly, I'd just settle for her not being so mean to me. But God says, "it is mine to avenge." Deut 32:35 says it plain as day, and it is quoted throughout the Bible.

So why am I puffing myself up in righteousness, thinking that it will somehow bring this person to justice? All I'm doing is bringing myself down. This person is not going to change based on my attempts to change her. She is probably looking at the situation, thinking she is the one who is right. That she somehow has the obligation to treat me the way she does because in some way it is righting a wrong. Her puffed up righteousness is bringing her to ruin just as surely as it is to me.

Will I see the day? I don't know. I don't even know that I can have the right heart about it. Proverbs 24:17-18 says "17 Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice, 18 or the LORD will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from him." Ouch. I guess there is still a lot of work to be done in my heart.

Somehow, I'd thought it was enough to not attack back. But God requires something deeper from our hearts. Maybe that's why I got to the point that I simply couldn't take any more. I'd outwardly been obedient and not attacked back. But inwardly, my heart was (and still is) filled with so much ugliness toward this person, it was bound to come out. I pray that I can find a way to love this person, not just on the surface level, but deep within my heart.

What is better? To be right? Or to be right with God? I've been right for a long time, but I desperately want to be right with God.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found this blog while searching the net for some scripture to help me deal with a very difficult situation. I am struggling with the exact same issue.

Allow me to explain...

I recently quit a job where my boss' behavior resulted in a full blown raid by the FBI, OIG, OPM and FDA. I spent the better part of 2009 in conflict with him trying to either correct the problems or have him stop adding to them.

Anyway, I now work for a competitor. There is an industry blog in which the raid on his company was mentioned. After all of the swearing and cussing and juvenile behavior, he turned his rancor towards me and basically libeled me in regards to my job performance. Totally irrational and false.

I intentionally stayed out of the conversation out of fear that he would do exactly what he did anyway!

So, I have struggled with this. I could easily disclose everything regarding his behavior and the raid, etc. which would ruin his company's rep.

Instead, though my first inclination was to do exactly that, I think I truly for the first time understand turning the other cheek. I am a fairly type "A" personality type. Former Marine, big guy, etc. etc. This is the first time I have ever been able to control my anger.

I struggle with it. It is hard. It is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Tonight, while still dwelling on his last post about me, I felt a sense of calm. I actually stopped for a moment and prayed for him. I prayed that he would somehow

8:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

see how lost he has become. How hopeless his life is unless he stops his behavior and tries to regain some sort of moral compass. I prayed that the Lord would somehow touch his heart. Not to make him stop slandering me, but or his own sake.

I feel so much better. I feel peace. I KNOW that God is in control. The devil has been using this to make me lose my focus on all of the good things in my life. This is a great career move. I now live much closer to my family. The kids are going to love it. My wife is too.

I am glad I found this blog. It hot me at just the right time and just the right place in my life.

Please know that we never know when our words or actions may help another in a time of need... your article did just that for me.

8:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is beautiful! And this blog is wonderful. :)

I have a person in my life just like this and it's been tough, really tough. I've never defended myself or said anything rude to her, although I've thought about 5028 things to say or do in return.

But God really has changed my heart. Now, instead of dwelling on how hurtful she is or negative thoughts about HER ... I send her a letter every week.

Each letter is a prayer for her, nothing to do with myself. She never responds, but I'm doing the only thing I can to actively love someone who doesn't want anything to do with me (yet is family). I'm praying for her.

6:05 PM  
Blogger Danica/Dream said...

Anonymous, I'm so glad this provided you comfort. Thank you for sharing your story. I'm praying for you and your situation.

Ashley, it is hard when it's family. I pray that God will continue to sustain you through this.

8:18 PM  

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