Does Turning the Other Cheek Make You a Victim?
The essence of spirituality, also known as the universal karmic eraser or the state of grace, is love and forgiveness, of others and of ourselves. This does not mean that you have to accept inappropriate behavior from others, nor should you; to do so would signify that you don't love and respect yourself.
We are told to turn the other cheek. If you take this literally, then you would allow someone to keep abusing you, sometimes with an apology and a promise afterwards to never do it again, sometimes not. If you apply those words literally, you would become a victim, always turning the other cheek and forgiving the offender. But when you look at that statement from a universal perspective, you see it quite differently.
Think of what it means for a human to be made in God's image. This does not mean that man has the physical attributes of God or the personality of God, but that he has the divine spark within, or the spirit of God within him. In other words, he has the seed of perfection within him. Now, when we say to turn the other cheek, we can understand that the larger definition is to honor the God within, the spirit, while dealing differently with the personality of the soul.
When I first learned about this difference, I tried to get used to separating the personality from the spirit of someone who had always treated me badly. She had a cruel streak and we never liked each other, but we were always thrown into each other's company. I decided to try an experiment to see if I couldn't diffuse the antipathy between us and direct my prayers to the God within her, bypassing her personality.
At night I would pray, "Please God, send your love and light to the divine spark within her," and here I would grit my teeth and, practically snarling, say, "because God knows she needs it." After a few months of doing this, I was told that she was going to be at the same home where I was invited. Before I left my house, I visualized the white light of protection going around me, shielding me from negativity. Then I visualized divine light preceding me and filling up the house that I was driving to. Then I visualized this woman being surrounded by God's love and light. I made sure to see it as God's love, not mine, because I knew I didn't love her, and I didn't want to feel like a hypocrite.
When I got to the house, I again put the white light of protection around myself . . . "You can never have enough of God's protection," I assured myself, and then I went inside. I looked around for this woman and when I saw her I made myself acknowledge her. She mumbled a greeting but didn't look at me. I thought to myself that this was indeed a major change. Instead of being my adversary, she was withdrawing. Well, that simply would not do. Not after all those months of sending her divine love.
During the rest of the evening I kept addressing questions to her that she had to answer because everyone expected her to; I made sure to ask her about things that required more than a monosyllabic answer. At no time did she look me in the eye; this was a first. I took encouragement from that.
In the months that followed, I continued to send her God's love and light in my daily prayers. Eventually, she started to respond. I was relentless. I increased the frequency and intensity of my prayers always sending God's love and light to the Divine spark within her. I also stopped gritting my teeth and adding the tag line, "because God knows she needs it." In time, I became a favorite of hers and she started calling me on the telephone. I didn't want to become her favorite; I just wanted her to stop her animosity. I achieved more than my goal. It also showed me the power of sending divine love and light to the God within a person and to be able to witness how transformative it could be.