What happens next?

19 Apr

What would you do if someone unfairly and maliciously insulted you in front of your friends? What would you do if someone took credit for your idea at work? What would you do if someone you loved hurt you to serve themselves? What would you do if someone lied to you and caused you to lose something you valued? What would you do if you discovered that a friend or loved one betrayed you?

All of these scenarios could happen to you. Some of them may have already happened to you. Unfortunately, we can’t control any choices other people make. We can’t control what they do or don’t do. We can’t control what happens to us as a result of those choices. When it comes to dealing with others, if they choose to hurt us, lie to us, betray us – we really can’t do anything to stop them. They may choose to do whatever they want to, and if that means hurting us, they may choose that as well.

But we can control what happens next – at least as far as our behavior is concerned. It is very hard to deal with being treated unfairly, and our first instinct might be to fight back. Fighting fire with fire might work, but it’s not always the best option. Sometimes it just makes the situation worse, and causes more hurt feelings on both sides. So if we don’t return back exactly what’s been done to us, do we have to just take it? Should we do nothing? No. We have options. But choosing the right one takes a little thought.

What if for every injustice, we offered back the opposite of what we received. For anger, we could offer kindness. For jealousy, we could offer acceptance. For selfishness, we could offer charity. For greed, we could offer generosity. For lies, we could offer honesty. If we offer these things in return for the pain, there is a good chance that the person who hurt us will be touched by our consideration and understanding. They may see the error of what they’ve done, and use our example to change. And if they do, that change would most probably be positive. It won’t happen every time, but if our example helps even one person to change for the better, it’s worth the cost.

We’re all going to be hurt by others at times. Sometimes the hurt will be exquisitely painful, devastating even, and it will be hard to turn the other cheek and offer back something better. It will not be easy. But becoming the best person we can be is never easy. We have to rise above the pain, and see the bigger picture. We have to decide that it’s worth it. We have to choose to reach higher. So today, make a choice. Do you want to return fire with fire, or do you want to change the situation and make it better? There is nobility in all of us. Recognize yours. Express it when things go wrong. Embrace it when you get hurt. And show it off to the world. It really is your finest feature.

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