Kill them with kindness
Heap burning coals on his head
Change your perspective
Oh yeah, we got Biblical up in here. Don’t worry, I hope it’s applicable whether you are faithful or not.
On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Romans 12:20 NIV
I’ve noticed an interesting thing about this. Sometimes, I really can just be kind even to those that have wronged me just because being kind is its own reward. Other times, I have to think about the coals. Sure, I want to send a terrible anonymous bag of inappropriate gummy candies to someone in hopes they will catch my meaning or even just be terribly offended. (In real life, I’ve only ever pranked people I love. You’re welcome.) Honestly, it’d be less pleasant than embarrassing candy, but we’ve got to maintain plausible deniability here. If I don’t like you, there’s a greater than zero chance that you’re a miserable human being and a lot of people hate you*. #sorrynotsorry
Here’s the funny thing though, while I’m doing the passive aggressive nice thing and internally reveling in that giant front-end loader full of fiery coals, it’s my heart changing. Don’t get me wrong, I have a vivid imagination. I can see each red hot bit searing the flesh of my enemy. I can smell it, and it is glorious. Right up until it isn’t. Right up until that moment that I can see this person is just lashing out because of their own pain and trauma and being a miserable excuse for a human being is just the manifestation of their screwed up coping mechanisms. Now that doesn’t mean I have to take any of their abuse, but I don’t have to retaliate either. I might help with the weight of the baggage, but I’m not going to allow anyone to whip me into carrying it. My act of kindness is my choice and keeps me from becoming a sad miserable human being. Soon pity replaces the coals in my technicolor fantasy. Compassion replaces anger and I again want to be nice because that’s who I am, or at least who I want to be. What’s the old saying? There but by the grace of God?
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. Genesis 50:20
Compassion isn’t weakness. It’s almost like an inoculation. Once you can see that people are lashing out due to their own weakness and pain, you’re free. You don’t have to take it personally. You don’t have to own it and let it tear you down. Instead, you see it for what it is, cracks in their facade. Their own brokenness. Will it save many lives? Maybe, maybe not.
I’m a long way from perfect, but I try to be a work in progress and see that other people are too. I’m pretty confident I’ve been that miserable human being to someone at some point. I’d fix it if I could, but I’m pretty sure I can’t in every case. Best I can do is keep trying and failing and trying some more. I’m tenacious like that. Yep, I’ve hurt people. There’s a pretty good chance they had it coming, but I still want to be better than that. I’ve only got one eternal soul to answer for, and it’s got scars. The least I can do is assume the others do too.
*I genuinely like people. I’m ridiculously social. I would bet real money that someone is already planning your slow and painful demise if you happen to be on the very short list of people I find to be terrible. In fact, someone was just about to post a comment asking for that list of people so they could do something about them. I won’t share. I don’t believe that even they are beyond redemption and unworthy of compassion. Besides that, someone else likes them even less than I do.