Time out ran me this week so I’m posting the intro to a shelved manuscript.

They taught us the Golden Rule in what they called the House of God, but they didn’t let that interfere with the quest for their own pot of gold. We heard words like turn the other cheek almost as much as we did John 3:16, but we knew first hand that turning that other rosy cheek would eventually end up in ugly shades of black and blue.

You ever try to swallow a dragonfly? Don’t. It’s a struggle.

The truth is that it’s a battle for folks hardened by a calloused life to turn the other cheek. A lot of people are blinded by fear or pride and crave justice, even if it is their own brand of it. There are even those in society that wish bad things on others, even get a little bit giddy when they come to pass.

It’s a mighty conflict in this life to find a balance between pride and humility, to crave mercy instead of justice… the mercy we all hope to deserve.

imageIt took time, but a humble man taught me that it’s a sight easier to see life clearly when we’re peering at it with the eyes and heart of humility. I learned that it doesn’t make a lick-uh-sense to wish something on somebody that is going to happen to all of us eventually.

Bad times and disaster pay all of us an unexpected visit sooner or later. I heard that in church, too, but they told us to take heart, ‘cause Jesus had overcome the world. When a soul gets its turn being shattered, and the words of a humble man are pondered, pride begins to lose its ugly grip.

It doesn’t matter where we’re born or where we hail from, nor the color of our eyes or hair, and not our language or accent, not even grammar. There’s a secret spot inside all of us that determines how we’re gonna respond when our days of dread descend upon us.

I’m not completely certain that we’re really called to let someone smack both of our cheeks. Instead of turning our other cheek and asking for more, most of us are inclined to block the punch and deliver a haymaker of our own.

Reflections of my own family and their colorful lives have had some (well, maybe a lot) of impact on my perspective. They weren’t perfect. One could argue that many of them were fit for strait jackets, or better yet, jail cells, but I’ll let you be the judge of that. Even though they had next to nothin’, they had the stuffin’ that was measured by a more honorable means. But mostly, they weren’t hiding behind a facade built on insecurity. Oh, make no mistake, insecurity drove them to other things, maybe worse things, just depends on a person’s perspective, I suppose. That’s kinda the whole point; to wrestle with the weaknesses and tendencies that all of us possess. To examine our lives and our hearts and to consider our own levels of humility and see how it stacks up to our ego and a desperate pride.

There’s wisdom in looking back, pondering the lives of others, their actions, their motives, and ours too. It’s not always pleasant, like swallowing a pesky gnat. You can cough, but eventually, at least most of the time, you just gotta take a few hard swallows, “Take it like a man,” as my kinfolk would say. Hope your gnat goes down easier than my dragonfly.