The Better Way – At the Movies

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You may have heard the expression, “hurt people hurt people.” This is one of the themes from the movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, which we saw portions of last weekend. We watched as the pain Lloyd carried with him from his past (and tried to deny for many years) finally erupts in a physical confrontation with his father, Jerry. More harm is done. More people get involved. His initial hurt continues to grow and creates a ripple (or in this case a tsunami) effect in all of Lloyd’s closest relationships.

Then Lloyd meets a person who cares enough to listen to what is unsaid, to really understand what is causing his pain. Mr. Rogers doesn’t settle for Lloyd’s lies, rather, he asks caring questions, helping Lloyd to begin the healing process.

When someone hurts or offends us, what do we do with the mad and sad that we feel? For many, we adopt an attitude of, “You hurt me, now I’m going to hurt you.” This is certainly what we saw in the movie, and it can be seen every day on social media and TV. The idea that we must not only stand our ground but also increase the level of discord with our response has gone off the charts!

Where is reason? Where is understanding? What happened to thinking the best of someone, instead of suspecting their motives—especially when we don’t even know them or take the opportunity to get the rest of the story?

We have all been hurt or misled by someone we trusted. How should we respond to these hurts and lies? Jesus offers us another way, a better way. And if we say we follow Jesus, it’s the only way.

Matthew 5:38-42           
38 “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. 40 If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. 41 If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. 42 Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.”

It is often said that Jesus brought an upside down kingdom-focus, and we can see in these verses how true that is! Our natural reaction is found in verse 38, but Jesus says for his followers, it must not be that way. When we choose to respond differently, we take the power away from those who think they wield it. When we choose not to respond in kind, it takes the energy from the argument. When we choose to respond with love instead of vitriol, it unbalances the equation.

When we choose to give more in our exchanges than what is asked for, we are inviting grace. Grace lowers the temperature, making space for curiosity and opening the door for clarifying questions to help define the issue. Conversation brings understanding, compassion, and empathy.

James 1:19
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You  must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.

Is it better for your heart when you bottle up your feelings or when you forgive others? What conflict is troubling you that needs to be resolved? Have you ever used the conflict resolution method Jesus lays out in Matthew 18:15-17?

Next Steps:
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal where your heart is hurting and how that hurt is impacting your relationships. Determine with whom you must have a conversation. Pray for guidance. Journaling often helps to define the true issue. Accept responsibility for your part, and have that conversation. Forgive, as God in Christ has forgiven you.

Heavenly Father, it is so hard for us to overlook the offenses and injuries we’ve endured. But we have Jesus as our example and our model. You have forgiven us so much more than we have suffered at the hands of others! Jesus loved us enough to come and take our sin upon himself, showing us how to live a life of love and sacrifice. Help us to make it not about us, but rather, about advancing your kingdom of love and service to others. In Jesus’ name, amen.

This post was written by Lauri White. Lauri is one of the 25 people that God used to start CedarCreek in the Fall of 1995, and was on staff until 2013. Lauri loves Jesus, and loves helping people, especially women, live out of the truth about who we are in Christ. She and her husband Mike live in Oregon, but now spend winter months in Florida near daughter Kelda and her family.

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