The other cheek

But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
— Matthew 5:39 (ESV)
Top of the Rock, Summer 2016

Top of the Rock, Summer 2016

Lots of wonderful media is coming out regarding the power of love (i.e. will.i.am’s moving video and new rendition of Where is the Love?). The anti-war sentiments are real, and there is a clear challenge to practice what you preach: to "turn the other cheek". I watch the videos, read the articles, and listen to the songs. Goosebumps rise on my arms like little mountains and my heart swells like a water balloon. I am resolved that compassion and kindness are the answers, and if we would only show it to each other, then the world would have less ugliness

...and then I get on the subway and shoot a death glare at the girl who just ran ahead of me to grab the last seat in the train car; I feel angry about the injustice of someone receiving praise for a work project I helped complete; I am embittered when I notice people trying to take advantage of me; and I can only muster up so much compassion for the strung-out pregnant woman asking for money on the street.

And the more I see these qualities inside of me, the more I realize that "turning the other cheek" not only refers to the grand gestures that may end up in a book someday. No, it is a daily practice of self-sacrifice that often scratches just enough at my pride that I feel indignant and brittle.

In my life, “turning the other cheek” is starting to look like: not reacting to someone stealing the hope of my comfort; celebrating my own successes and rejoicing in the success of others; ignoring everyone’s tendency to want something (including myself) while giving my gifts without expecting anything in return; and offering a smile - maybe some food - to a lost and tired traveler. Because we are all sojourners, and many of us are prone to getting lost.

“Turning the other cheek” is a lifestyle. I think of an athlete training for the olympics. He or she doesn’t start out that fast or that strong, but all of the little exercises, and days upon days of practice, lead him or her to that level of competition. If I ever have to be in the olympics of “turning the other cheek” (cheesy, yes), then I want to be ready. I need this every day practice: this refinement of myself. I want to be ready for whatever "turning the other cheek" looks like in the future.