Noah’s in the revenge business. He prides himself on Machiavellian tactics and instincts. He’s hired his services out to his sister, seeking payment out of her piggy bank. He’s left booby-traps and nasty notes around the house. Is this a by-product of brotherhood? Are boys more natural score-settlers? An older boy in student care at Noah’s school is giving him grief, and night and day, Noah talks about “getting even.” I wonder if he feels this burden more intensely because he’s somehow marginalized by his peers. We mothers never fully know what transpires after we drop our children off at school, and I am quietly terrorized by the thought that this little boy is ridiculing Noah for being “different.” Because Noah is. And I see it more clearly every day (this, a part of parenting a high functioning autistic that I intensely dislike – the part where things get worse before they get better).
Noah could have passed this trait onto his little brother Jesse, or perhaps it’s just the natural dynamic of male siblings. But in either case, it’s such a prominent theme in our home that Jesse recently suggested a “revenge meal” by telling me he wanted to eat both Hot Pockets for lunch, rationalizing that by eating both, when Noah went to ask if he could have one for dinner, “dere won’t be any lef, because I eat dem all.”
When Noah feels as if the world has him under its heel, it does little good to remind him that vengeance is the Lord’s alone (Romans 12:19). He still seethes and grits his teeth and makes a fist. Noah loves the Lord, alright. He just doesn’t trust Him to even the deck. I am certain his thirst for revenge is what keeps Noah in karate – a sport in which we thought his interest would fade (for Noah, if you play a few notes, you’ve mastered the piano; throw a few footballs, you’re Peyton Manning. You get the idea). The self-defense/combat mechanisms of the sport entertain his ninja death squad fantasies. Noah doesn’t like feeling like he’s been “had.” But then, neither do I. More than once, I’ve let others laugh at my expense, only to go home and quietly seethe about what I should have said at the time. I wish I could say that I’d chosen to turn the other cheek at the moment of offense, but I’m not that magnanimous. Keeping my mouth shut is only the result of a too-slow wit. “Argh! Why didn’t I think of that at the time!?” Noah feels this, too. I can tell this when he comes to me, and says, “The next time Johnnie says XX, I’m going to give him a piece of my mind!” Yes, we’re both very brave after the fact.
Really, both Noah and I need to thank the Lord we don’t say what we “ought to” at the time. Rolling over could be the Lord’s way of gently pushing our cheek in the other direction. Maybe He knows we’d be in a heap of trouble if we started running our mouths. Maybe He knows the heart of the offender, and he can see through to the hurt behind the insult. Maybe He’s just teaching us what’s required to be “at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). And though I’d like to say I’ve had one good Rocky versus Drago moment in my life, it’s probably for the better that I haven’t. I find that most of my “gut” reactions do better when they don’t get very far.
I’m sure that’s just how the Lord intended it.