When someone has wronged you or your loved ones and something terrible has happened to the person who dared to hurt you, have you ever thought to yourself:
Ha, they deserved that, I hope all their hair falls out!!!
Ya, me too! I have had that smug thought many times, about as much as I think about coffee, which is quite often.
Karma… what goes around, comes around.
I have been in unusual situations where I thought a person was going to serve me up a slice of karma, but to my surprise, they gave me a free pass to get out of jail. Did you love it when you picked up the get-out-of-jail-free-card in Monopoly? Maybe you even jumped up and did an annoying happy dance, like me!
Being the self-loving people we are, we don’t usually wish good on those who have offended us. Yet, we have all slapped someone with our own offensive words or actions, but never whisper those words:
I wish I would get struck by lightning for being rude and obnoxious!
Why is that?
When Vance and I were newly wedded, we were driving home one winter’s day and hit black ice. We lived in Wolfville, Nova Scotia and we were not used to the dangers of this dark, slippery nightmare. I was the driver when we started slipping and sliding. There was a half-ton truck about one hundred meters in front of me when I started breaking. We skidded the whole distance, till I hit the vehicle with a bang!
The bumper was now hanging off the offended truck, I panicked when a man quickly hopped out, and my life flashed before my eyes. Vance volunteered to jump out and defend me. After a quick discussion, to my surprise, the fella hopped back in his vehicle with a wave and drove off.
The incredible, angelic man had told Vance his truck was an old clunker and it was no big deal. He had let us go but could have lied, sued us, yelled at me or punched me out. Well, I highly doubt he’d do the last one since my husband was six-foot-three and two hundred and fifty pounds. The man gave me a free-pass instead.
Ten years later I was sitting at a traffic light waiting for it to go green. I had my five perfect little angels – cough – in the van with me. My daughter Charity was around six years old at the time, and she beckoned to me from the back seat calmly, “He’s going to hit us.” I looked in my rearview mirror, and sure enough, a small car was careening towards my bumper.
Boom… he hit us!
I hopped out of my car and looked at my bumper, and it was intact and had a little scratch. He came towards me apologizing profusely.
“No big deal,” I said to him, waving my hand like it didn’t matter as I turned to hop in my van.
“What???” He said. “Are you serious?”
“Absolutely, have a great day!”
He shook his head in disbelief, thanked me and we drove off. Ten years before, someone offered me grace instead of karma. I remembered and was willing to pay it forward.
I’ve also experienced the other side of the coin:
In grade eight I was bent over tying up my shoes in the hall before going out for recess when I felt a burning pain across my blue-jean, covered behind. My green eyes teared up immediately. I stood up in shock and turned around. There stood one of my teachers with a yardstick in hand, and a smug look on his face.
“Why did you hit me?” I asked him
“Your butt was sticking out too far into the hall. Next time stand closer to the wall.”
Now, I wanted to scratch out his eyeballs and saute them in a frying pan and serve them back to him with a gallon of hot sauce. I held my tongue and my fingernails that were clenched in my fists. He merrily strolled off whistling, with his head held high. I despised him and wanted him to suffer for what he did to me!
Years later something horrible did happen to him. But somehow I didn’t feel any better.
I thought I would.
When my son Devyn was in cross-country racing in high school, we had to Travel to Etobicoke, Ontario for one of his races. I had rented a hotel room in Toronto and was checking us in, along with my friend Penny. We had planned to share two beds between the three of us. The clerk handed me a card with my information on it and asked me to sign. When I looked down, I noticed it was a man’s name instead of mine.
I jokingly said, “Mr____ might be surprised if I show up in his room!”
The clerk looked at me mortified and scurried away to get the manager. At first, I thought it was a prank, but then they told me I was being moved to the presidential suite for their error. I refused repeatedly and replied that it was just a silly mistake. They would not budge. We were generously given a two bedroom/living room/ kitchenette presidential suite. It was really unnecessary for the staff to be treating us like royalty when they had made a tiny, insignificant error.
A friend of mine explained to me why a hotel would do such a thing, people complain about hotels on the internet and give them poor ratings for the smallest injustices.
You wronged me, now pay up or I will retaliate!
The staff hoped their kindness would dispel any grudge I might have been holding. As I was laying in that enormous, soft, comfy bed I had all to myself, a smile came over my face. I felt like royalty, treated like a princess but did nothing to earn it…privileged.
There have been moments in my life where I wanted to retaliate with the most wicked scheme I could imagine. After all, I deserve to be treated like royalty at all times, don’t I…Princess Cindy. Then God would humbly remind me that I am a regular human, like every other person in this world, living on the same equal ladder, with everyday struggles:
Cindy, mercy is better than justice.
Sometimes I wanted to ditch the conviction, and go with the risk of being jailed for torturing the scoundrel because I believed I would feel a great happiness wash over me when they learned their lesson.
If you watched the movie, The Help, you would remember Minnie, who was a maid working for Hilly, a snobby, cruel and privileged boss. One day Minnie got tired of Hilly refusing to let her use the family’s bathroom because she was black and Hilly thought she carried race specific diseases. Hilly had also told a handful of lies about Minnie and fired her. She decided to give her boss a taste of her own medicine. One day she knocked on Hilly’s door and offered her a delicious homemade pie, Hilly’s favorite, chocolate custard.
After Hilly had eaten two slices of the delicious pie, Minnie revealed her secret ingredient, her own feces. Hilly is furious and mortified, and threatens to ruin her reputation. Minnie explains to Hilly, if she doesn’t stop spreading rumors about her, she’ll reveal Hilly’s secret: that she ate a black woman’s feces. I loved the look on Hilly’s face when she realizes she’s trapped and can’t retaliate. Minnie and I together felt justice had been served!
Even though there are people, like Hilly, who deserve a chocolate custard pie with a pinch of the secret ingredient, there is a better way… switching out bad for good. When we make the swap, we teach people how amazing it feels to be pardoned, to receive a gift they didn’t earn, instead of punishment they deserved. Your generous pardon might possibly cause them to pay it forward one day.
Imagine if we blessed others with grace, instead of a slice of Karma with a sour cherry on top… the world would be a more beautiful place.
Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. 1 Thessalonians 5:15 NIV
***Check out my novel and true-life story, Beauty from Ashes, on Amazon.com***