Goodbye, Sweet Revenge

This post is part of a new project that I’m working on. Visit Jess Alston’s website to learn more about the Dig Deep Podcast.

I know a thing or two about cocaine. Well, that’s not actually true at all. However, Jess shared this week at Dig Deep about a study that shows that plotting revenge lights up the same parts of your brain as when you do cocaine. (Is that even how you say it? You do cocaine? But I digress.)

There’s definitely an addiction quality to this whole plotting revenge thing. Have you felt the rush before? Sadly, it just happened to me last week. I sent an email that I probably shouldn’t have sent. In the moment, it felt amazing, as I effortlessly stabbed away on my keyboard with an evil little twinkle in my eye. I remember looking up approximately three minutes later and I had shaped four solid paragraphs that felt as well structured and convincing as a presidential debate speech.

That email had brewed in me over the last year. In fact, I had three different versions of it in my email drafts folder that I recently deleted, deciding I would never actually send them. As sickly sweet as it felt to get the rush of writing this recent one, I felt nauseous after I hit send. And even more nauseated trying to figure out how to clean up the mess I made.

This is the small, everyday moment that Jess referred to this past week as the most common time we see revenge in our life. In the form of an email, a small daily task that’s usually used for good. I didn’t organize a movement or start a whole war. But revenge, no matter what form we deliver it in, never works.

It’s been so easy to slip into gossip mode about the subject matter of my email. Jess shared about how we wipe our hands of gossiping, but then still linger near others who are gossiping about what we just told ourselves right over there that we were Done (with a capital D) gossiping about. And, somehow, we still get a little rush from listening in on the action, like our feelings are justified and we have every right to stick up our noses a little higher.


You want to know why I sent that email? Because I heard that this person had sent messages about me, blaming me, throwing me under the bus. It’s not the first time. We’re in a culture where emails fly out like this regularly, starting all the way at the top. So it felt like I had every right. Like I too could play this game.

Again, oy.

I have so much to learn from Jess when she shared about how we can bless someone who hurts us. After all, we are called to not take revenge. To overcome evil with good.

What does this blessing someone who hurts us look like? Start by offering them forgiveness. Turns out, forgiveness is not a feeling. It’s a decision. Then, try these four steps:

  1. Do good things for them.
  2. Say good things to them.
  3. Say good things about them. 
  4. Pray for good things for them.

So I guess we all have a decision to make.

Will we say goodbye to revenge, regardless of that little rush that can feel so good in the moment? Will we choose to offer forgiveness, even without the feeling?

Romans 12:19-21

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