It is said of a certain elder that he showed special affection for those who despised him and in any way dishonored him.
“These are our friends,” he used to say, “because they lead us to humility. Those who honor and praise us do injury to our souls. The Scriptures also say: ‘those who regard you well seduce you.’”
Ouch. Does this feel as much of a slap upside the head as it does to me? Is this how we are taught to respond to abusers and bullies? No, not at all. We are pretty much taught to get even, to get “justice,” however someone interprets that.
While I would never advocate anyone allowing another to abuse or bully them, we could perhaps learn a different way of responding to them. I am thinking here of internet trolls, those people who lurk in comments and say repulsive and ugly things. I am thinking here of the responses to trolls I have seen. Some people choose to respond to trolls hatefully. Some respond to trolls with such grace and dignity that I am bowled over. They are the ones who have found a way to embody the example of this anonymous Abba.