Cheek to Cheek

This past week I heard someone mention, “Turning the Other Cheek”. And I thought….what does that mean actually? Does it mean that if someone hurts you, it should be okay with you and that you should walk right back up to the person and allow them to hurt you again? Seriously?

And yet, isn’t that what we have been taught? To be a martyr? To suffer? To obey? To ask for nothing for ourselves? That the right thing to do is to love and forgive our neighbor all the time, every time?

Bullpoopy. That’s right, you heard me. Sorry for the strong language, but it couldn’t be helped.

Do we really think that we were brought into this world to learn to devalue ourselves and to let other people determine our value as far as how obedient we are to them or how self sacrificing or how much money we give our church?

In learning to turn the other cheek, we tend to think about it literally. Basically, if someone is pummeling you, let them pummel you some more and do nothing. That is what is generally seared into our brains. That reacting is wrong. Taking care of ourselves is the wrong thing to do. Instead, do nothing. Nothing at all. Allow it to happen. In fact, go back, give them another cheek and let them keep hitting you.

But what if all of this talk of offering an offending party another part of our face to beat to a pulp, this was just a metaphor for, say, empowerment. I mean, the saying is to turn the other cheek, not have someone else do it for you. The message is that in the case of turning the cheek, you are doing so willingly. You are not under duress and nobody is turning your head for you, so this is obviously not a case of abuse or having little or no control.

My feeling on this then is that you turn your cheek to someone when you choose not to let a situation escalate.

You are choosing not to swear at someone for taking a parking spot you wanted. Or your friendship with someone is more important than the fact that they forgot to include you in something.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t say anything to someone about your feelings. In fact, in a healthy relationship, stating your feelings about something shouldn’t be seen as a start to a fight. With someone you don’t know, you may choose not to say anything just to keep the peace.

I feel that when the whole thing with the cheek changes is when you don’t feel emotionally in control or if you feel you don’t have power over the situation. Then you are making a choice to comply out of duress.

I rarely feel the need to escalate the circumstances in which I find myself. My natural reaction is to shut down and go inside myself and try to fix things instead of confronting someone. I wonder how many of you do that….turn the other cheek in order not to be the source of things getting out of control. That’s where the table starts to turn from empowerment and mutual respect to fear and abuse and manipulation.

What is at the heart of that fear where you begin to find a disconnect between your emotions and your actions?

We disconnect because we want people to like us. We disconnect because we want to avoid feeling pain or discomfort. We disconnect and begin to lose ourselves because we go into fix mode, which is when we try to turn someone’s frown up-side down. We do it because we have learned to be the ones to hold everyone else together.

We begin to turn our cheek and in doing so, allow someone else to take our control and deliver a punch instead of a slap.

I find that I am more assertive when I am working for someone else’s well-being. For instance, I will take a behavior from someone that I won’t allow them to do to my children. (See ex-husband) I’m also more assertive if I am with someone who is not in authority or who I don’t know well.

Come with me here for a moment to this scenario….you are planning a party for someone. You make all of the plans….the time, the place, the setting, the food, the invites…you have done everything. Now, many people are going to be happy. about the party. These people will praise you. You will feel happy too.

Then you will hear from other people who have issues with something you’ve done. There are always going to be people with issues about something. I don’t eat meat. I can’t eat that late at night. I don’t dance. I’m not allowed out on Saturday nights. I can’t afford a gift.

So what do you do? You make sure there is a vegetarian selection, you get hors devours so people can take home their dinner and not go hungry, you don’t get a band or a DJ, you change the party to Friday night, you make gifts optional.

And then you have made more people happy. In a sense, you have made a sacrifice, allowed them to slap your cheek, offered them the other side, and you are happy because now these people think you are as wonderful as the first people thought you were. And because they are happy and heaping praise onto you, you are happy and enjoying a dose of endorphins flooding into your brain.

But then comes Grumpy Grant. Nobody pleases Grumpy Grant. But you are sure you will because…because it’s what you do. But Grumpy Grant ain’t buying none of it.

He will say things like…cheap party, why did I get my invitation after everyone else got theirs, I thought you were supposed to care about people, I see how you really are.

So what happens now? The difference here is that Grumpy Grant is not giving you problems you can take care of. He is basically attacking you and everything you are trying to do and tearing it down. How do you make him happy? Should you make him happy?

Did you see where the line got crossed? Will you still try to make Grumpy Grant happy to get a crumb of an endorphin from him if he is going to make you go home and cry when you try? Will you be giving him your other cheek and still have self-respect?

Well, the way I believe you turn the cheek and stay in control in this situation with Grumpy Grant, is that you make an attempt to see perhaps if he was having a bad day or if you are indeed trying to make it a happy party for all…and once you give that a try and have given him a chance….if you see that his agenda is that he is having more jollies being sadistic towards you than he will ever have at any party…..stop trying. Yes, you have allowed him to behave badly towards you. But you don’t need to get even. Sometimes peace is found by walking away.

Don’t beg someone or attempt to make them happy so that they will dole you out a crumb and snatch it back.

That is not what turning the other cheek is about. That is where your control ends and you have handed it over to them.

So I guess the point I am making here is perhaps there is a difference between allowing a slap and allowing being pummeled into a corner, which is never acceptable…..and that if a slap is truly a slap…that being something that is perhaps ignorant and not intentional…maybe it is better to let it go. To let it just slide off. Because you choose to do so. Not out of fear and not out of needing approval. But because you choose not to let the world get to you and let it shake up your inner serenity and strength.

I am saying that it is not only okay to like yourself and to value yourself…..I’m saying that your very life depends upon liking yourself. And I’m saying that you cannot make anyone else like you. That is on them.

Turning the other cheek should be a choice. As in I choose not to react or retaliate.

Turning the other cheek does not mean putting yourself in the line of fire and destruction from someone else and allowing them to destroy you.

It means to change what you are able to change. It means allowing from a place of strength and of choice. Not from a place of vulnerability where you have no power in the situation.

If you feel you have no power and no choice, then you are not turning the other cheek, you are being abused. In my opinion, there is a big difference and the two should not be confused.

If you are being abused, it is okay not to be abused. It is right for you not to be abused. It is wrong for you to be abused.

And if anyone tells you otherwise, or tries to use the bible as a means for their own end, get your cheeks the heck out of there.