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Blog Post #8: The Struggle is Real

Retaliation | Jesus | Motivation | Bullies | Confrontation | Forgiveness

Thursday, September 12, 2019 by Kristen (Kurivial) Hug 

“Pity them and pray for them,” was always Mom’s advice when it came to dealing with bullies.

Dad, on the other hand, would wait until Mom was out of earshot before coaching me on where, and just how hard to hit.

Retaliation. It is a flawed reaction of our human condition and one Jesus instructs against in today’s Gospel reading from Luke 6:27-38. And along with resisting retaliation, Jesus is challenging us to examine our motivation, because certain actions are not always wrong, and other actions are not always right. We are totally capable of doing the right thing for the wrong reasons, and the wrong thing for noble reasons. There is a difference between retaliation and self-preservation, between violent and peaceful protest, between conflict-driven and solution-oriented mindsets.

Let’s revisit the bully scenario. When my siblings, Katie and Kyle, were just little tikes, they found themselves at a gathering with lots of other children. Inevitably, there was a bully in the bunch, and he came running toward my sister who never saw him coming. With a glass bottle raised in the air, he prepared to strike her head, when, out of nowhere, came pudge-ball Kyle to the rescue. He shoved the bully as hard as his little arms could muster, causing the boy to lose his balance and roll down the hill and away from my sister. Let’s hear it for Kyle-man!

But pushing is bad! At least this is what we often tell children. However, Kyle’s motivation was to save his sister from serious harm. Under a different set of circumstances and an altered motivation, Kyle, committing the same action, could have been the bully.

That’s why a cliff notes version of today’s readings bother me! If you don’t sit with this for a second, you could walk away with the notion that we should be non-confrontational pushovers, that the bullies get to prevail, and that this IS what Jesus WOULD do and would want US to do! Thankfully, this is NOT the message Jesus was trying to get across. How do I know that? This is the same man who constantly confronted the Scribes and Pharisees (the Bible-time bullies)! So what IS Jesus asking us to do?

Have tough conversations. Examine our motivations. Model appropriate interactions. Set boundaries. Forgive.

“What credit is that to you?” Luke 6:32

Well, in my book…that’s EXTRA credit!

And this, coming from the smart mouth who once snorted back to a boy who told her, her life was perfect, that if, in fact, her life WAS perfect, HE wouldn’t be in it.

The struggle is real, my friends.

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