Tit for Tat or Not? Which Would You Choose?

by Cherie Fresonke @CherieFresonke

When someone is a jerk to you, how do you respond? Do you turn the other cheek? Or do you throw insult for insult—an eye for an eye? Or in other words, tit for tat?

 

An Eye for an Eye

Which Would You Choose?

 

The Tit for Tat Dilemma

These types of questions we’ve asked ourselves for the last year and a half, on a daily basis. We have a German neighbor who most in the village describe as crazy. But I don’t think that. I believe his heart is filled with anger. God’s Word says, “what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart” (Matthew 15:18, ESV). I think as a child he was hurt and bullied, which causes him to act out in anger towards others. He’s miserable because of his wrong choices in life, and he wants everyone else to be unhappy as well.

 

So for the last year and a half, we’ve been bombarded with loud music aimed at our house, cruel cursing (which at least is in languages we don’t understand), obnoxious behavior, beams of light flashing in our bedroom window at night to wake us up, barking—yes, barking. In fact, every time he walks by our gate, he coughs loudly to get our attention, and then spits, a huge, enormous, hock a loogie kind of spit. This he does four times a day. Click on “The German” below to watch a 30-second video of his despicable conduct. (The video is filmed at nighttime. You will hear him walking, wait for it and you will see a figure come into view. Then the deplorable act will be heard. lol. That’s what we choose to do, laugh at his immature behavior.)

 

The German

 

What Would You Do?

So what does a person do in this type of difficult situation? How would you act when dealing with a bully? Would you yell obscenities back at him? Spit at his gate? Get in a tit for tat fight? Or would you ignore it? He’s unapproachable, so it’s impossible to have a reasonable discussion.

 

Up until now, we’ve chosen to follow the example of our Bulgarian neighbors who have dealt with him a lot longer than we have. Everyone pretty much ignores him and gives him a wide berth when he’s drunk.

 

Repay no one evil for evil [no tit for tat], but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

—Romans 12:17-21

 

Grace upon Grace

I consider this grace upon grace. Isn’t that what I received from Christ? Can I offer this guy anything less? (Here is a great blog post in how a Christian should respond to bullying if you want to learn more.) Yet, his negative behavior slowly intensifies. Which brings me to his latest tactic.

 

For the last 7 months, he has occasionally thrown a huge firecracker, much like an M-80, in our yard. Well, a few nights ago, he aimed one exactly where Keith was working. It went off about 3 feet from him. It was an intentional throw, hoping to harm Keith.

 

When the German asks like this, my flesh wants to run out our gate and duke the guy. A long time ago, the Lord put on my heart, “No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life” (Joshua 1:5, NIV). What a powerful statement. I’ve felt this power from God on a few occasions. It’s amazing. But do I go tit for tat or in this case rat, tat, tat (pow, pow, pow) in his face? That’s what the German wants. Or do we handle it in another manner?

 

What I’ve Learned in the Battle

In the midst of this battle, I don’t have any real answers . . . yet. But I lean on the truth of what I do know.

 

1. I’m in God’s perfect will.

God picked this place for us to live. The German lived here for over 14 years. We prayed for 11 years to buy a retreat center in Bulgaria. Two years ago, God answer that prayer. And in that answer He placed us in the middle of the German’s life. We are surrounded by three houses the German visit, works and lives at every day. For some reason, yet unknown, God wants us in the middle of this guy’s life.  So we know God is up to something here. (See Romans 12:1-2)

 

2. It’s a Spiritual Battle.

We’ve done nothing wrong to the German. Nothing. The most we’ve ever done is smile and offer an occasional greeting. We did call the cops twice when he hit Keith in the face last year and when he threw the M-80 at Keith. But that was in response to the German’s wrong actions. So it still wasn’t incorrect on our part. This is why I believe it is a spiritual battle. He doesn’t like to see our joy and contentment when his life is so miserable. (See Ephesians 6:12)

 

3. There is No Place Safer Than in God’s Perfect Will.

God taught me this truth when I went to Macedonia to help the refugees during the Kosovo War. (See Isaiah 26:3)

 

Each of us, at times, must deal with a difficult person or two. When this happens, the best we can do is hold onto truth and ask God for His wisdom in how to handle the situation. He doesn’t always answer us immediately, because in the midst of the battle He is growing and maturing us (see James 1:2-4). But know that, if you ask God to be with you, He is there. He will lead and guide you.

 

And in time, you will be able to see what He was doing behind the scenes. Hindsight is always a clearer view.

 

Question

When was the last time you experienced a difficult person? How did you handle it? Were you bullied? Feel free to leave a comment below. My readers and I look forward to your response.

 

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6 Responses to Tit for Tat or Not? Which Would You Choose?

  1. Rodney King April 13, 2017 at 4:20 pm #

    Cherie, I just wrote you a full paragraph containing my thoughts but this thing rejected it for some reason, so I’m not going to type that all out again. My final thought was let the authorities handle it. Escalate your complaint with them. They must have a boss you can go to.

    • Cherie Fresonke April 14, 2017 at 12:12 am #

      Hi Rod,
      That is exactly how we are choosing to handle it. We will wait to see what the police will do. The first time we called them they didn’t do anything. Except for two suggestions — ignore his behavior or play music back at him. That would be tit for tat. lol. This time they seem to be taking it a bit more seriously so we will see. Sorry about the technical difficulties with your comment post.

  2. Dalia April 26, 2017 at 5:28 pm #

    Hi, Cherie! I met you a few years ago at Calvary Huntington Beach and bought your Go in Peace Leader’s Manual. I love it. Well, if you haven’t killed the guy by now, lol, I would just keep praying, but now I’d pray MORE FREQUENTLY. But the thing is, is he’s not just mean and obnoxious, he’s downright dangerous. He is putting your life at risk and/or maimed. He escalated his anger. I wouldn’t mess with crazy people, they’re different from mean people. I would call the cops. Or I think I would write him a letter asking why is he doing this. What does he find in you and your husband that is causing him to do these things. I wouldn’t approach him on a face to face. He may have a weapon. But surely this type of attitude has to be dealt with. It’s not funny. Let me know what happened. I’m prayers no for you in my “War Room” closet!!

    • Cherie Fresonke April 30, 2017 at 6:20 am #

      Dalia, You are right. Prayer is the answer, and of course, in a difficult situation it causes us to pray even more. We are working with the police and just saw the top police official in our area last week concerning this problem. Thanks for the prayers. They are so needed. God bless.

  3. Cynthia wright April 28, 2017 at 12:08 pm #

    Hi dear Cherie,
    I had no idea you were living w this kind of spiritual warfare daily there. Evan and I will con-
    sistantily pray for you and Keith. You are living biblically and the Lord does have a plan for this
    German man. How awful for the two of you though and our hearts go out to you completely.
    Wow, what a test you are experiencing now. GOD IS FAITHFUL TO STRENGTHEN AND
    PROTECT YOU FROM THE ENEMY.
    Blessings,
    Cynthia and Evan Wright

    • Cherie Fresonke April 30, 2017 at 6:27 am #

      Hi Cynthia, Thanks for your prayers. Just this morning I taught on Psalm chapter 5. Although the whole chapter is great, verse 8 really ministered to my heart. Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me. Because of our enemy we end up in the place where we seek God even more than when everything is going great. And in the trial God WILL lead us and make our way straight. Good thing God already knows the outcome. I just need to walk in His path as He shows it to me. I’m sure whatever He does because of this it will be a God story. Blessings.

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