Recently, a young girl I know went on a school-sponsored trip. After having her medications taken and held hostage by an unknown party for three days, then having her belongings hidden while she was in the shower, cold water dumped on her in the wee hours of the morning, among other things—this girl could have been vying for revenge. (Especially knowing that the culprits were girls once considered her good friends.)
But this particular young woman wasn’t. Through her hurt and frustration, she opted to take the high road. She didn’t play a single mean prank, even on the girls who wouldn’t leave her alone.
The explanation she gave was this: I don’t ever want to make anyone feel the way they made me feel. I’m not that person.
But it’s not an experience she wants to repeat, either.
So. In this instance, does our compassion make us stronger, or does turning the other cheek make us weak?
(FYI: Right now, I’m wishing Kenny Rogers had written a song about mean girls—cuz I can’t get his song Coward of the County out of my head.)
My conclusion: I’m not saying there’s a right or wrong way to handle any of the situations I’ve mentioned. I think it’s more about who we choose to be and how we react to the cards we’re dealt. In real life, as well as in fiction. As I recently heard quoted by a wise man (sorry, I didn’t catch the source), “It is our daily efforts and how we handle challenges that define us.”
So I ask myself:
1. Will I be defined by a pile of popcorn on the floor?
2. Will I be defined by hitting the ball that results in the winning run?
3. Will I be defined by the cruelties of others?
No, children, I will not. But I might be defined by how I react to all those things. And that, my friends, is the stuff of which personal growth is made.
How will you be defined today?