Responding to attacks

Many of you already know LacedUpLutheran. He comments on my blog from time to time. I really–I mean REALLY–like this post. Thanks, Matthew.

Laced up Lutheran

What do you when someone attacks you?

What do you when they attack you verbally?  Do you lash out?  Do you defend yourself?  Do you strike back?

There are no nice universal answers to such situations – something that works for every single situation.  Humanity is complex after all.  And circumstances are unique.

While it’s nice to be able to say simple solutions, the reality is much more complicated.

We could also say one should turn the other cheek.  Is that the best answer for every type of attack that might happen to you?  I doubt it.  Yes, Jesus said it.  But does that make it a universal answer to every single instance of conflict?  I wouldn’t argue that.

Besides, we can also cite Ecclesiastes 3 – there is a season for everything.

So does this mean that anything goes in how we deal with people who attack us?  No…

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19 Responses to Responding to attacks

  1. tonycutty says:

    Turning the other cheek has been described as a revolutionary thing, not a non-violent thing.

    If someone strikes you on the right cheek – if they are right-handed, wich most people are – then it must be a backhand blow – an insult. A way of saying that you are inferior to your antagonist. However, offering your left cheek invites them to strike you forehand, as an equal, thus denying them the chance to be superior in their attitude.

    It’s actually an act of rebellion and provocation, not of passive doormat behaviour.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Tony: “It’s actually an act of rebellion and provocation, not of passive doormat behaviour.” I agree, but not everyone gets this point.


      • theotherlestrangegirl says:

        I also think it has to do with how you choose to respond and how you see yourself. If someone calls you something nasty and you get angry, you basically confirm what they said. However, if you retain your dignity and do not allow your emotions to become a slave to their words, then their words become flat and meaningless.

        As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

        Liked by 2 people

  2. theotherlestrangegirl says:

    Very good article.

    I’ll be the first to admit that I can be hot-tempered and quick to react when I feel threatened. I also have issues with the “turn the other cheek” statement as it is often used as a rule for why Christian women should accept their husband’s abuse (at least that’s how it was used around me).

    And I used to be really bad at forgiveness (since I thought that it meant I was okay with whatever happened)–but I’m much better at it now. It’s an incredibly freeing feeling.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Oh No, Strange Girl! ‘Turn the other cheek’ can never be an argument for submitting to patriarchy! It just gets worse and worse. But I very much agree with your conclusion that forgiveness does NOT mean being okay with what happened. Forgiveness is letting it go and not being eaten up with resentment and hate.


  3. theotherlestrangegirl says:

    Also, I very recently had someone I had to forgive. Not too long ago, I developed a working business relationship with another person in my field (I’m something of an infant entrepreneur).

    We worked together for a bit until I discovered he was using unethical business practices and was scamming other people. When I called him on it, he hurled a bunch of insults at me and told me I just do not understand how business works (he apparently is of the type that believes you have to step on others to get where you really want to go–which is not how I operate). I was upset because I was worried that my association with him would destroy my reputation. He also lied to me about something he said he’d done (which he had not), which nearly resulted in me operating illegally.

    However, I immediately ended the business relationship and simply wished him well. I doubt he will make it far with his methods, given that people in this industry catch on real quick with who to work with and who to avoid. But it’s out of my hands now and I hold no ill will towards him. Also, I’m thankful that no one has lashed out at me for his behavior, which is something I feared.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Strange Girl, I am so glad you were able to get out of this situation. And I like that you have no ill will toward him, but that does not mean that returning to a business relationship with him is necessary to demonstrate your attitude.


    • tonycutty says:

      Yes, you have demonstrated excellent maturity there. Well done.

      Everyone has heard of ‘forgive and forget’. Forgive is what you have done. The problem with the ‘forget’ part is that if we ‘forget’ then the lessons are wasted, which would be a shame. Forgive, but don’t forget, at least in that you don’t let their actions determine how you treat them, is a good policy, I think. And, again, you have come out the victor in this too 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        Tony: “Forgive, but don’t forget” I like that! At the very least, we should remember what happened and what we learned from it.


  4. Chas says:

    Tim, for me it is ‘walk away’, every time, and that would also include abusive relationships. In the event that someone wishes to say, or do more, they would have to chase after you and demean themselves in their own eyes.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Cheryel Lemley-McRoy says:

    It really depends on the situation. But I’ve learned to smile and turn away. Once I was preaching in a small, East Texas Church of elderly white people. The Bishop had asked us to address the sin of racism after the Charleston murders. One old man stood up in the middle of the sermon and yelled at me and stormed out. I continued without response. The next time I saw him, I patted his shoulder and said, hi, Johnny, how are you?, And smiled as if nothing had happened. He responded gruffly, but softened.
    I try to remember that it’s usually not about me. And I find that people usually feel badly about their outbursts.

    Liked by 1 person


  7. Dennis Wade says:

    Tim, thank you for sharing this article. It addresses an important issue that we need to examine as followers of Jesus. It seems to be an attribute of the ego to take every disagreement or contradiction as a personal attack. It’s like we’re all walking around with open wounds that are constantly being poked by others!
    There is an understanding that has been taught in so many ways in different spiritual traditions, and that is now being recognized in psychological circles, know as “the mirror effect”. I think most people are familiar with it nowadays. Basically, it says that when we get angry or offended by the behaviour of someone, it is because they are demonstrating a trait or thought-pattern that we actually have in ourselves but are unwilling to face or admit.
    This is why it is so important to examine yourself and to learn to accept and forgive yourself for having these things. Because if we can’t forgive ourselves, we will also be unable to forgive others.
    And it is also why it is so important to have a correct understanding of God’s love.
    When we truly know that God always has and always will love and accept us just as we are, then we can start to learn to accept others in the same way.
    When I am confronted by someone who is angry with me, I make an effort to remind myself that it could very well be that they are reacting to the “mirror effect”. And if I feel offended by their behaviour, I also could be reacting to the same effect.
    I’m not perfect at this, but I am getting better. And it really does help to prevent me from responding in a negative fashion.
    Of course, there is no one perfect response for every situation, but it does seem that most of the time peaceful words and remembering that the other person is also loved by God are things that seem to work the best.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Dennis, I don’t think I am aware of the ‘mirror effect’ you describe, though it makes good sense. Your personal experience and commentary regarding these situations are very helpful, and I totally agree with you that “it does seem that most of the time peaceful words and remembering that the other person is also loved by God are things that seem to work the best.” I rely on that a lot and (hopefully) getting better as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Dennis Wade says:

    Tim, i would also like to share a link to an article I just read on “Done With Religion”. It has quite a few good points about handling personal attacks by others:

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Thanks for sharing this, Dennis. I really liked his conclusion: “I am beyond grateful for the freedom I have discovered in God’s love and for the ability to share the journey over these last three years. Do I have everything figured out? No! Am I confident what I now believe is what I will always believe? No! Is it okay to live with uncertainty and live a life of perfect imperfection secure in God’s love? Absolutely!”

      I feel the same way.


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