In defense

At our Bible Study last night, we discussed a passage from the end of the second chapter of 1 Peter. In the passage, it points out Jesus’ lack of retaliation against the Roman soldiers who put him to death and how we should follow in his footsteps. All good, in theory. I’m down with not fighting back. But I had to ask:

“Surely there must be a line there between defending yourself and fighting back.”

The example I brought up was M, who has difficulty standing up for himself. I don’t want him to be a pushover. I don’t want people to take advantage of him. I know that, given his nature, both of these are likely situations. I find myself encouraging him to assert himself. It’s defense, right? He has a right to defend himself.

And yes, he probably does. But I realized, in light of the discussion that followed, that I’d been pushing all the wrong message. Just because you have that right doesn’t mean you have to exert it. How much of a difference would it make if you knew you had a right to defend yourself, but chose instead of serve the other person, to view it not as giving in but as helping out. Or assisting. Or serving–not that person, but a higher purpose. A purpose of peace, love, open understanding.

It’s a whole different message. I surmise, as M prepares for public kindergarten, that these messages will be harder to hold on to, especially when I’ve been missing the mark a bit. It’s funny how something you have so firmly believed can suddenly and unexpectedly turn into something different. But if it could happen for me, it could happen for them, still, if I’m there to whisper something new, something peaceful, something bigger to hold on to. I find myself no longer so fearful, or worried for his autonomy. Instead I have hope that it can turn into something even more beautiful, something beyond a simple power struggle, something that could set him on another path altogether.

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