Thinking back about Arnold Alexander Allen that I told you about, it seems only fair to tell you how ugly I was in my mind to him and how that led to more pain for me than he could ever have inflicted.
What I did, back then as a kid, was to put him down. But only In my mind, because I knew right from wrong even if I didn't do what was really wrong. I only did wrong things that other people couldn't know about unless I confessed, which I didn't. I told you before that I didn’t know how to do anything else until Jesus helped me learn to do better. To me, there wasn’t any “Triple-A Allen” he was “Triple-A Donkey” if you prefer the slightly more polite version of my opinion.
What Jesus and the memory of Sammy helped me learn was that I was trying to lift myself up by pushing Arnold down. That doesn’t work; it makes you the same as them. The Jesus Way (as I call it) is to do what Jesus asks us to do even when that’s hard. Especially when it’s hard. Like the incident on the first day of high school.
I walked up and there was old AAA holding court with his little band of jerks. I was wearing a new dress that was cute but certainly not provocative. That didn’t keep Triple-Jerk from shouting “Look who’s here, men. It’s Maude the Bod!” Of course they all made “woo woo” noises and snickered as I walked past and I saw them look to Arnold for his approval.
I heard more crude remarks and noises even when I was way down the hall. What stinkers and lowlifes I thought, and promised myself I would never stoop so low. What I finally came to realize, years after, is that I already had. I was returning evil for evil, if only in my mind.
But the mind is where it counts! What we do is easy to change compared to changing what we think about. Healthy thinking is important because our actions arise from our thoughts as Scripture points out. When the mind is corrupt we do wrong things. Even psychology knows that. Consult your Bible if you don’t believe me. For example, Titus 1:15b: “nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are corrupted.”
Little by little I began to change; to grow out of that kid stuff. Or so I thought until that thingy with the CNA. Oops! See what I did there? I called it a “thingy!” It wasn’t that at all. It was rudeness. Nasty, stinking, un-Christian rudeness just like I cried about when AAA threw some on me. So who’s the donkey now?
I’m changing “little by little,” but little by little is no excuse, it’s just human. Pride does go before a fall, but lying there like a wad of self-pity is worse because it ignores the help we could have. “My goodness” I heard myself say, “what a wonderful set of tools for getting along with people the Bible provides and the Holy Spirit helps us use!” I said it out loud, just like that!
God knows we are in a lifetime battle between our old sinful nature and our new life in Christ and that this has a lot of ups and downs. They are fewer and less painful as we grow spiritually. Almost all healthy growth is gradual. It is important to pray for your enemies. I found out that my worst enemy was a little gray-haired lady, name of Maudie. Who is yours?