By: Glyndora Condon M.S., M.F.T., L.P.C.
There was a time some decades ago, when I remember toiling with the need to exact revenge upon others when I felt slighted, hurt, or treated unjustly; as well as, when a consequence was uncomfortable, or too much from my fallacy of fairness. As I began thinking as to how to have revenge, I would find that equal was not enough; and often would resort in rendering hard judgment and sentences for what I suffered, to others. At first I felt better immediately after I dealt my final blow; but as time passed-I would experience guilt, shame, and concern that perhaps I had been too harsh. Often, the bridges were burned and there was no hope to reconcile.
In fact, what I discovered that the hate had smoldered in my heart, causing more anguish and bitterness over a long term yet then discover that the “enemy” was living a happier and more fulfilled life, without anything of the event itself causing them any pain. They had moved on. I was stuck. Am I speaking to someone who can identify? It seemed fair and right to take out revenge. After all, what goes around comes around! In Peter and in Romans we learn that it is not our place to seek revenge; and to know that God will one day judge others righteously and will provide the revenge that is earned. This is very difficult for us as we attempt to back off and yet see them untouched while we hurt isn’t it?
With anger, there are a number of distortions of thoughts in play. Each will cycle as thoughts seem to chant the same things to us-driving our pain, fear, and anger. With Heal and Hope Counseling Services-we review these and then share how to stop the thought that is hurting our hearts; and how to challenge the distortions; while also learning how to speak assertively as to the conflict, yet allow ourselves to relinquish hate and revenge. But, they need to pay! Yes, but not from our hand. If we repay wrong with more wrong then are we not just as guilty? Are we really able to judge rightly? Behaviors do not change until our thought and heart does.
First we must choose to not be stuck. We can truly believe that our thoughts are right and accurate when in fact they are not. Learning how to test them and revise them is the only way to correct a distortion. Second, we must choose to leave vengeance to God since He has a plan to correct the wrong that was done. When we have done all that we can do without violating another, and to attempt to walk in peace during the storm; then we LEAN IN. Fear often makes us hesitate or hide; but leaning in requires courage. We lean in with faith and with courage to continue walking in the light even during hardship. We stand firmly on our convictions and we speak with love as we stand true against wrong.
If we have messed up the last thing, then we make the next thing a right choice that reflects a pure heart and true self. We cannot re-do the past. But we can take a different path to journey upon. We can step out of a comfort zone and seek a peaceful walk with all people for as much as we have any control; as much as possible. Life is not a rehearsal…it is real-and each choice leads to a path of experiences (good and bad). If we continue the same road; we continue the same dynamics of that path. Each change of our walk will bring us to new experiences (good and/or bad), and each teaches us. We cannot know what is ahead but can focus to today. Social conduct is vastly opposite to God’s plan with conflict. He says that peacemakers are blessed. Peacemaking not only helps to restore peace but also brings peace to one’s mind and heart.
Does that mean that we give in? No-but we can walk from. Does that mean we agree? No, but we can speak assertively without violating another person when we disagree, and if they do not accept our opinion then we can choose not to allow differences to deter our walk as we allow theirs. Do certain people seem to push our buttons? Then we need to ask why we have those buttons and work on us. We are not responsible for their thoughts or actions and they are not responsible for ours. We can always choose to have less contact with those who seem to be irritating but we do not have the right and it is not right for us to be a source of pain. We can assist in helping you develop a more mature emotional and behavioral self.