Note: names followed by an asterisk (*) have been changed for confidentiality purposes.
I stared at my shaking hands. I had been preparing for this day for the last two years and I couldn’t afford to make too many mistakes. The white keys beneath my figures blurred as tears filled my eyes. I couldn’t believe I was about to cry in the middle of my piano final! (Which, by the way, I needed to pass in order to g r a d u a t e !)
No, I thought. Not here, not now!
“Alexa,” my professor said. “Is something wrong?”
I didn’t want him to see that I was crying. But it was too late.
“I know this is a stressful time,” he continued. “However, you’ve been practicing diligently all semester. You can do this.”
I’m sure he had seen many students break down during this exam. But probably not for the reason I was emotionally overwhelmed.
I wiped my eyes with my sleeves. “I’m not crying because of this exam,” I said, feeling the need to explain myself out of embarrassment. I was three seconds away from ugly crying but I couldn’t hold it back any longer. “Something happened this morning.”
I proceeded to tell him a condensed version of the story of Heather*.
Heather was a girl I had to live with and she made it her mission to make my life as miserable as possible. When I first met her, she was very sweet. But after a few weeks of being roommates, she started to mistreat me out of the blue.
I endured her aggression, disrespect, and vulgarity for a year. Things were so bad that I avoided being in the apartment because of the toxic environment Heather created. I felt like I was suffocating.
On the morning of my piano exam, Heather decided to let me know what she really thought about me. She called me all sorts of names and targeted me based on my skin color. She made it clear she doesn’t like light skinned black people (which explains why she began to mistreat me), although she is also black with a darker complexion.
Usually I don’t let that kind of talk get to me. However, I was already stressed out because of finals, other life drama, and moving. All my emotions caught up to me, which caused me to break down during my exam.
I had reached my breaking point.
After sharing my frustrations with my professor, he told me something I will never forget.
“You are so kind,” he said. “Alexa, you are a class act. There aren’t many students who I’ve seen that are like you. You are incredibly polite. The way Heather has treated you isn’t your fault. Her actions are a reflection of herself. All you can do is pity her.”
More tears fell from my eyes after hearing his words. That’s when it clicked. He was right: her actions are a reflection of what’s going on inside of her. They weren’t an accurate perception of who I am.
I was able to regain my composure and complete my exam, which I passed! (Yay!) I thanked my professor for taking the time to listen to me and for being an awesome teacher during the semester.
Now, you’re probably wondering what I did to get back at Heather. Did I ever confront her? Did I put her in her place? Did I take revenge? Well, I didn’t. Honestly, I was too tired to confront her (although I had the right to). The things she said about me were lies, and it was clear she was living in darkness.
At times, I did want to do something to get back at her. But when vengeful thoughts crept into my mind, God convicted me of them. He brought this passage to my mind many times while I was living in that apartment:
Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say,Romans 12: 19-21
“I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the LORD.
Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.”
Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.
Why does God say revenge is His? Well, one of the reasons is human anger doesn’t produce the righteousness of God (James 1:20). Acting out of my own anger will result in self-centered, sinful actions. My focus would be on getting even instead of bringing glory to God.
However, because of God’s righteousness (Psalm 119:137), His anger is righteous and isn’t perverted by sin. So when it comes to revenge, I shouldn’t worry about it because God’s justice is perfect (Deuteronomy 32:4).
At the end of it all, I’m glad I didn’t take revenge against Heather. I don’t have to walk around with a guilty conscience. I also preserved my reputation. By choosing not to take revenge, Heather couldn’t come against me and say, “Alexa did this to me.” I was able to walk away from the situation without any blame (Philippians 2:15). But most of all, I’m glad I didn’t take revenge because I wouldn’t have shown Heather the love of Christ.
I’m happy to say that I don’t live there anymore, and I never have to see Heather again. I still have nightmares about her and the apartment, but I know they’ll go away with time.
Whenever Heather crosses my mind these days, I just pray for her. I pray that God will get ahold of her heart and heal whatever brokenness is inside her.
Although she hasn’t asked for it, I have forgiven her. I won’t forget what she did to me, but I don’t want to live with a grudge.
Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free and realising you were the prisoner!-Max Lucado
Thanks for reading. I hope you were able to take something away from this post. If you are struggling with forgiveness, know that I am praying for you.
Until next time,