nice when they’re not…
You know what I find to be one of the hardest things to teach my kids?
Be nice when the other person is not.
But that’s what I tell my kids when they divulge to me that other kids at school say mean things to them, or push them around.
Be nice when they’re not.
It’s tougher than it sounds to spit out.
Being nice when others are not seems like a good idea until…your kid gets punched in the face at recess and gets a fat lip and bloody nose. Or someone taunts them by throwing their lunchbox across the cafeteria and spilling their food on the floor so they have nothing to eat.
(Thank you, middle school, for being such a lovely example of human depravity.)
You know what I would rather say when mean things happen to my children?
Next time, punch them back.
Next time, tackle that kid to the ground and take his lunch.
That’s what I want to say to them…but I don’t. Sometimes, I have to literally cover my mouth and bite my tongue to keep it inside.
Because I know returning evil for evil isn’t right.
But it sure feels more fair in the moment.
When the offense occurs, be nice when they’re not is not even the tiniest bit easy to say out loud. In the moment, it actually feels like total crap. I absolutely do NOT feel like praying or blessing anyone…nor do I feel like telling my kids to bless them either.
However, I have been so convicted by the scriptures about how I am to respond to mistreatment that I feel led to say that phrase: Be nice when they’re not.
Matthew 5:38, 44, “You have heard the law that the punishment must match the injury: ‘an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person. If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too…But I say, love our enemies! Pray for those who persecute you.”
1 Peter 3:9, “Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do and he will bless you for it.”
I am called to return love for hate. To return a blessing for a curse. To pray for the people who harm me. And to teach my kids to do the same.
IT’S FLAT OUT CRAZY.
But it’s possible.
Teaching myself (and my kids) to have an eternal perspective has started and ended in the Bible at our house. We read scriptures and pray them together whenever “mean kids” come our way. The Word reassures us that our reward in heaven will be worth all of the unfair treatment and it promises that we have God’s Spirit with us to make us strong enough to endure.
You know what else has spoken loudly to my children about this issue? Watching their mom respond in love to the people that are unfair or mean to her. They can’t believe the changes I have made in my own life regarding people who are NOT NICE.
It’s empowered them to do the same.
Friends, do you have a situation in your life where you have an opportunity to return love to someone who is mean to you? Or to pray for someone who has hurt you? I would love to hear about it! Let’s do this faith journey together.
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