When a deer rubs its antlers against a tree, it wounds the tree and causes it to leak sap. Yet that very sap can be used to make balm for someone else's wound.
This simple analogy perfectly captured an attitude that I have always found difficult to achieve. The ability to give out sweetness and kindness in the face of disrespect, hurtfulness, or rudeness.
As long as I can remember, I've had a reputation as strong-willed. While having a strong will can have its benefits, it also has its downside: a temper. So when someone dishes out a nice heaping of rudeness or anger at me, my natural instinct is to dish it right back. It's even worse if someone directs anger at someone I love. There have been times when I've overheard a waiter, a clerk, or some random person mutter at my parents or Mark and felt the white-hot rage monster rear inside my chest. Who are you to talk to husband/dad/parent/sister/friend that way? streaks through my mind.
But after hearing the sweet deer-tree-balm-sap story, I felt so compelled to make a change. What if I could just "turn the other cheek," so to speak? What if--instead of letting my natural temper flare and spit out some retort--I said something kind? How would it impact that person's day? Would it change their attitude? Change their heart? Soothe their spirit? Sure, I realize that some people are simply angry and rude, no matter how much fairy-nice dust you sprinkle on their head. But then how am I to assume what they're going through or even assume that the one clash is indicative of their entire personality? Perhaps they're simply walking around with a wound I just don't see.
And maybe the kindness I show could be a little balm to that wound, helping their day without any cost to me.