No need to take the bait

Two months after I’d damaged a woman’s car when I’d fallen asleep at the wheel, she called saying she just wanted to “take my anger out on you.” I was grateful that no one was hurt in the accident and that the insurance company had met all the needs quickly and completely for all involved. But I felt terrible that I’d caused the accident. So when she called, I listened quietly, apologizing when I could as she unleashed a string of invective.

As the caller continued and I offered no verbal resistance or defense, she seemed to get more belligerent. I felt it would have been unkind and not healing to dismiss her by hanging up, so I held the phone about a foot away and listened. I began to feel like a fish contemplating bait on the end of a line. I asked myself if I was going to respond with equal force, or hold to a higher, humbler thought. In other words, was I going to “take the bait” or stand firm for the spiritual qualities that we all have a right to reflect, qualities straight from our source, God—qualities that are spiritually alert, loving, good, strong enough to meet the challenge, and impermeable to suggestions of anger or self-justification.

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