Sports psychologist Herndon Harding tells the story of a baseball player in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ minor league system. When something went wrong with his game, the athlete would throw bats or verbally lash out – apparently as a way of preventing other people from criticizing him first. Such behavior, though, made him somewhat of a target, particularly to two fans, who heckled him on a routine and rigorous basis.
Once, after the batter had stuck out, the two young men again began taunting him. With a look of determination, the player strode over to the fence where they sat a couple of rows back and gestured to them to come down. The hecklers weren’t so sure they wanted to meet an irate athlete carrying a baseball bat, but they gathered their courage and went. Instead of being furious, which would have been his typical reaction, the baseball player now chose to respond differently. Flipping his bat over; he grabbed it by the barrel, extended the handle to the two men, and said, “Do you guys want a Dodgers bat?”
After that, they never badgered him again. Attending almost every game, they did nothing but support and encourage him just as loudly as they had previously heckled. It was an event that changed the baseball player’s life, because he realized that he could choose to react differently. Not only did this alter his outlook, benevolent action actually transformed his environment as well.
He may or may not have known it, but this baseball player followed Paul’s advice in dealing with difficult people who’ve wronged us. “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:32). You see, if we hold on to grudges and hurts, then our hearts sicken, our souls shrivel, and eventually our bodies will physically suffer as well.
Lord, thank You for forgiving me. Please help me to forgive those who have wronged me. Amen.