For years I have been reflecting on the invitation to turn the other cheek, so well known from the biblical text in which Jesus invites us to give another chance, not to respond in kind to those who attack us, but to give them what they want, to act well towards them, to give them love and to be compassionate.
This idea, so central in the Christian conception, and so challenging for our human nature, has always seemed to me complex to carry out, and at times a position that may conflict with the idea of self-care. Should I give in to those who harm me, where does that leave self-care, I suppose that the proposal made in the Bible starts from some bases. Surely the first is that we are acting to cultivate our spiritual life and our heavenly future, so the grudge of this plane of existence is not really important enough to give to the end. Also, I suppose it is an invitation to elevate ourselves to a higher state, both of consciousness and of acting. That all sounds good to me. However, I still think about self-care and self-preservation.
Personally I don’t think I am a person who has enemies, which has not left me exempt from shamelessness and scammers (as I discussed in a previous post), I have tried, sometimes successfully and sometimes not, to be able to take this invitation and be merciful, to offer opportunities, to initiate a process for forgiveness, to be generous in showing perspectives and in giving the energies I have and those I lack in conversations that unfortunately tend to always be inert. So, how far to give the other cheek if one has only two, by this I do not mean that they must be literally two options, I just think that everything has a limit, in fact the same biblical God gets bored of being benevolent and destroys peoples or even creation with the story of the universal flood, which makes me think that everything has a limit, and that therefore self-care can also be the border where all sympathetic contemplation also leads to an end.
Should we try again? I am convinced that yes… where a door closes there must be a window available, and if there is not, perhaps there is a small crack through which a message can slip in to invite those who do wrong to at least stop doing it (to speak of repentance and reparation would be too much to ask of some people).
You must be loving and work on mercy, which personally has been a difficult lesson to learn and I still do not get it as I would like. However, we must also be loving and understanding with ourselves, with our own wounds, with the internal processes that require their own time and journey. This does not mean that we should not turn the other cheek, but considering well that we still have one, because we cannot give what is no longer there, what was broken or simply ended by the use of time. Taking care of ourselves is important and that is not only to move away from what or those who do us wrong, but also to welcome the times of internal processes, even those that will help us to be like children and see others and ourselves again, with the innocence and openness that every story can begin again when the sun rises again.