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What Happens When We Allow the Evil in the World to Become the Evil in Us?

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Robert Frost one wisely reflected, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both and be one traveler, long I stood and looked down one as far as I could to where it bent in the undergrowth.” The poem continues with Frost choosing the road less traveled, ending with the famous line, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

I was standing in my own yellow wood of sorts, torn between the road of redemption and the road of bitterness. My trust had been violated. What I had held with precious respect was ripped away by the hands of someone I trusted, someone I deeply cared about, someone I loved. What do you do when you’re trust is violated? When your most precious thing is taken from you?

The classic character, Maleficent, knows a thing or two about betrayal, shame, grace and redemption. Forever known as a fairytale monster, Maleficent lived a misunderstood tale. The recent 2014 Disney movie revealed the narrative untold—the story of the woman scorned, playing the role of both her own villain and hero.

Maleficent lived a magical life. She loved deeply and, in turn, was hurt deeply. One ominous night, the man she loved seduced her and ripped the most precious thing from her body: her wings. Maleficent’s screams and posture the next day reflect a woman battered and bruised, a woman at the crossroads of a yellow wood of her own.

Maleficent had a choice to make: would she allow that which was stolen from her to define her? Or would it make her stronger? Initially, she chose the path of the woman scorned. And don’t we know this stance? We can spot her from a mile away. She walked with extreme fury, a force to be reckoned with, a force to be feared. She built a fearsome wall of thorns, literally blocking out anything and anyone that could pose the potential threat of hurting her again. Her motto had become, “Hurt me once, shame on you. Hurt me twice, shame on me.” Maleficent lived so blinded by her own pain that she cursed the very person that held the keys to a different kind of story—a story of redemption.

But here’s the thing that I love about Maleficent’s story: she didn’t stay there. Initially she chose the path of revenge, but she resolved that she didn’t want to live there. The movie reflects “she reveled in the sorrow her curse had brought.” What she deemed as the ultimate vengeance became bitter ashes to her own heart. As she sought to set that which she had cursed right, she grievously reflected, “I was so lost in hatred and revenge.” Maleficent lost herself when she chose to walk down the trail of revenge, bitterness and destruction. She had allowed the evil in the world to become the evil in her.

As I contemplate the two roads before me, I’m drawing from Maleficent’s story and asking a few questions:

  1. What will my pain turn me into? A monster? A woman to be feared? Bitter? Or will the pain make me better, stronger and my story steeped in grace?
  2. Who will I invite to be my wings when I don’t have any? Who will be that person speaking into me providing perspective when I can’t see clearly?
  3. What lies beyond my own fearsome wall of thorns?
  4. Perhaps, could that person/thing/circumstance that I have cursed be the very key to unlocking my own redemption story?
  5. What step(s) do I need to take to begin walking the road of redemption?

The road of redemption isn’t about—and never was about—the person that betrayed and hurt me. This road is about me and my story. It’s about my own health, sanity, peace of mind, and being the warrior God created me to be. God never designed us to merely survive; He made us to thrive. Here’s what I know to be true: I can be the hero or the villain in my story. That person who let me down, well, my story doesn’t end with them. They’re simply a name on a page in a chapter of my life. They won’t define my story because I’m choosing the road of the hero, not the villain. The road of redemption, not revenge.

So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. {Romans 8:31-39}

Look what hurt you in the face and say, “IT’S OVER.” That thing, person or circumstance will attempt to grip onto you for dear life, but in order to step onto the road less traveled we have to let the hurt and pain and betrayal and heartache and unmet expectations go. When we allow the evil in the world to become the evil in us, we stop being who God created us to be. And that road isn’t worth it. So friend, stand up, wipe the dirt from your face, grab my hand, and together let’s walk down the road of redemption. Are you ready?

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