There is a Garfield cartoon strip where Odie (the dog) is sitting near Garfield (the cat if you didn’t know). Odie is not doing anything in particular, he is just sitting when WHAP! Garfield thumps him. When confronted by Jon, his owner, Garfield’s response is, “I hit him back first.”
Pre-emptive strikes seem to be part of our world now. It is militarily and strategically more effective to get your punch in before the other side can. If you know that the other side can inflict serious damage to you, it is seen as best to try to take out that capability. We hit them back first.
Sadly it seems that this approach is no longer reserved for comic strips and military campaigns. I note with sadness how some politicians not only run each other down after the event, but they get their punches in early by commenting about what is expected to be said or expected to happen. I recognise with real disappointment that it is also something that happens in relationships – someone fears that the other person will say or do something that will hurt them so they go on the offensive. They get the verbal punches in first.
Do you recognise it in yourself? No?
There are times when I think ahead about an event or a meeting and in my mind I play out what might happen. If I imagine a ‘worst case scenario’ I can find myself planning what I will say or do in response. So, before I go into that meeting I already have negative thoughts about what may or may not happen. I have planned my (defensive) response before anything has occurred.
I need God’s grace to help me. I need his grace so that I am looking for the positive, not assuming the negative. I need his grace to help me not to want to be defensive but lovingly to seek truth. I need his grace to help me to realise that I need to listen and learn much more than I need to talk.
Be blessed, be a blessing.
When I was at school my Mum used to sew name labels in my clothes. She used to do the same for my older sister. One day she hit on an idea to help save the cost of having two lots of labels made up. She got them made with both our initials on them, one at the start of the label and the other at the end. She would fold the end over that was not needed. The labels looked like this:
H LEAR N
My sister had ‘H LEAR’ in all her clothes. In all my clothes there was a reminder that I was to LEAR N!