Morning Meditation: Revenge

My parents were convinced I’d be the only high school graduate still riding a bicycle with training wheels. I really could not master that skill. We lived on farmland in Roxboro, NC and paved driveways were not a thing. Loose gravel, a VERY uncoordinated six year old, and a bicycle minus training wheels were disastrous.

When I finally had some success and rode more than six feet, I quickly realized I didn’t have a “stopping plan”. The best option I could think of was to try to jump off the bike before it and I together went down this huge hill.

Landing on the gravel ripped my knees to pieces. It was the first time I’d ever experienced scabs on my skin. I couldn’t stand seeing how ugly my knees looked with those scabs on them. I kept trying to pick the scabs off, hoping my skin would look “normal” again. Little did I know that ripping a scab off a wound just keeps the wound from healing.

Revenge is a lot like ripping a scab off a wound.

A group of Swiss researchers wanted to know what happens in the brain when someone gets revenge.

In real-time, they scanned the brains of people who were wronged during a game. They then gave the wronged participant a chance to punish the other person, and for a full minute, as the victim’s contemplated revenge, the activity in their brain was recorded.

Immediately, researchers noticed a rush of neural activity in the part of the brain known to process rewards. So the study found that IN THE MOMENT revenge is actually pretty rewarding. But, it is a very short-term, short-lived reward. Actually, revenge is quite damaging.

Instead of it being an act of closure, it actually perpetuates the pain. It keeps us focused on the wrong, stuck in the past. Instead of being an avenue for justice, it prolongs the lack of healing and continues to bring hurt and harm to the one who ultimately needs the healing.

In the Judaic law, it was stated that you could seek retaliation/retribution/revenge if you were wronged. It was merely the “way they did things back then”. Yet, Jesus taught differently. When Jesus said, “I am The Way, I am Truth, I am Life . . . no one comes to the Father except through me” – this whole “not seeking revenge” was a huge part of one’s ability to have life and it is amazing!

Letting the pain others inflict on us go is a way that we may have life and have it abundantly.

Think about it, if you have a wound and you keep reopening it over and over again, it is never going to heal. Revenge keeps reopening wounds.

Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye will leave the whole world blind.”

Instead of putting energy into plans that are only going to hurt us in the end, what if we use that energy, passion, and intensity towards bettering ourselves? Focus on our own goals and our own growth. We can get the reward center of our brains working by thinking about how great it will be when we meet our own goals. This makes our perpetrators irrelevant–which is exactly where they should be. And our own wounds will begin to heal.

Click HERE to read more about the psychology of revenge.

Grace and Peace,