When the House Doesn't Land on the Witch
Alright. The title may be a bit dramatic, I admit, but let's talk about dealing with people who hurt you. As much as you may wish for a house to drop out of the sky as it did on a wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz, most villains aren't so easily removed from the story.
There are couple of things to note about villains. They can be found anywhere and everywhere. Some are easily avoided while others are inescapable. The most vital fact to grasp is that the biggest villain to encounter is the one in the mirror. Yes - you. I say this because we are all born with sinful hearts that create a personal problem only solved through the intervention of Jesus in our lives. But, for the purpose of this conversation, we're going to talk about the external and examine interaction with those we label "difficult, dangerous, and deadly." We need a plan to correctly respond to the intentional or unconscious "villains" in our life plot.
The Bible uses a different word for those who may be coming to mind - "enemies." When someone repeatedly injures you it's hard to think of them as anything more. Let's take a moment to discuss two types of enemies. One is the "obvious" - this individual has territory across enemy lines, wears a different uniform (maybe even a pointy hat), and takes shots at every opportunity. The second is the "neighbor" - this person is next to you, wears the same uniform, and takes subtle shots that most can't see. The wounds inflicted by the "neighbor" often come through passive-aggressive acts that hurt the most because, well, the source should be or parades as one of love.
This topic can be broken down into a lot more detail than I'm going to go into here (for example: dealing with an unbeliever vs. a believer), but there are some tools that can help no matter who you may be facing.
Drop it. Leave the person and situation in God's hands. He makes it very clear that He's the boss and a righteous Judge. It's not our place to throw "water," but can leave it all in the right hands. We don't get to start "fires" either. This means revenge has no place for us when trusting the Lord with every outcome. (Romans 12:17-21, Ecc. 12:14)
Weed. Ask for bitterness to be removed from you. Bitterness can't grow in a humbled heart. We aren't better. When we look at villains through the lens of who we were without Christ, we're reminded that we were once enemies of God. This casts our enemies in a new light: A soul in need of Jesus. This should drive us to prayer on their behalf. He enables us to love even the ones who hurt and transforms our interactions with them. (1 John 4:19-21, 1 John 1:8, )
Forgive - again. This means we are not mentally guzzling from the cup of what happened. We are not vengeful and choose not to hold it over their head. We do not use grievance as a way to manipulate or shame. We guard our words in how we talk about the individual to others. We don't attempt to justify personal growth of resentment or self-pity in the dirt of what someone else did to us. (Luke 6:27-28, Proverbs 24:17, James 4:11, Matthew 5:44)
Live differently. Set boundaries when necessary, but overcome evil with good. Though we should desire and seek reconciliation, there are situations in which boundaries must be established. It's important to seek godly counsel from an unbias source who can give wisdom when creating perimeters. No matter how far or close an enemy may be in our lives, we can still be obedient to God's command to love as He loves us in how we think, talk about, and pray for them. When we are placed in contact, remember that kindness is never regrettable because it will honor and glorify the Lord. (Romans 12:14-21, Matthew 7:12, Gal. 5:13, Matthew 5:16)
Who do you view as a villain? Who in your life is hard to love? Whose presence makes the wicked witch theme song (Wizard of Oz) play on repeat in your head?
You know how I mentioned that we were once enemies of God? Well, here's a hard fact: You and I may be the villain in someone else's story. It kind of changes the desire for a house to fall from the sky when there's a chance it could fall on us, right?
Let's love others the way we ARE loved by God. Let's love others the way we WANT to be loved - even if it must be done from a safe orbit.
In a fallen world, villains are a part of every story. Sometimes that person is someone else and sometimes it's us, but there is one role that never changes - the Rescuer who has come to save, forgive, and change all who call to Him.
Who needs a house when there is Jesus?