A new take on turning the other cheek

As we strive to see a higher, spiritual view, forgiveness becomes a natural part of loving both ourselves and our neighbors.

Christ Jesus said, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:38, 39).

I used to think turning the other cheek meant allowing someone to repeat an offence. But recently it occurred to me that it can mean instead to change our perspective. Maybe it’s a call to think differently about the individual who wronged us. After all, when you turn your head, your view naturally changes.

In this sense, to turn the other cheek is to see more spiritually—to turn away from a material sense of someone in order to see the true, spiritual innocence of the individual—of God’s perfect creation. I’ve found that when I start my prayers with the concept of perfect God and perfect man (meaning everyone), my responses to people and situations become more loving. And I can see more clearly that we are all dwelling in unity with God, divine Love. We are all one with Love. 

It’s a call to think differently about the individual who wronged us.

We read in Jeremiah that “the Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee” (31:3). God is Love itself, and we are Love’s expression. Expressing divine Love is the way we fulfill the biblical commandment to love our neighbor as we love ourself. It’s living in loving relation to everyone. 

Sometimes this love takes the form of forgiveness. While at times it may seem hard to forgive, starting by asking God to show us how He sees the individual and situation can make it easier to extend that holy love and forgiveness to others. Divine Love sees the situation from a higher viewpoint. As we turn the other cheek—strive to see this higher, spiritual view—forgiveness becomes a natural aspect of loving both ourselves and our neighbors.

I had an opportunity to express forgiveness, which then led to healing. For a long time, I had resented my mom and grandmother. They hadn’t let me participate in extracurricular activities in high school, and for years I struggled with awkwardness in social situations. Even as an adult, every time I felt awkward, the thought would come, “If only I had been allowed to interact with my peers growing up, I would know how to handle this.” But holding on to this thought was keeping me mired in the past and was not recognizing my present capacity to express divine Love, to grow
in love and grace.

Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy includes this encouraging statement: “The depth, breadth, height, might, majesty, and glory of infinite Love fill all space” (p. 520). In my prayers, I opened my thought even more to Love’s infinite embrace. I became more receptive to divine Love’s love for all, knowing that Love was pouring forth gentleness, affection, and kindness. 

With this expanded sense of Love, I could now see things differently—that my mother and grandmother had been concerned for my safety, and that this had been their way of trying to protect me because they loved me. And I could love them for that. Truly forgiving them freed me from the false belief that I had a reason to be awkward or unloving. I became more relaxed and natural in social situations.

The more I learn of the depth and breadth of the spiritual fact that God is Love, the more I am able to turn the other cheek—to turn aside in order to gain a new view and to see clearly that divine Love is blessing me and everyone. Expressing God’s ever-present love, we can not only transform our own relationships but also help do the same for relationships in our communities and the world.

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