My Struggle With Reverse Karma

“Grace,…she travels outside of karma.” – Bono

About a week ago, I realized how much I think and believe as if Karma is true. This isn’t what I want but it is the reality. Just as a man can live as if he is more important than he really is – living in spite of the reality before him – I live as if Karma is true and the principal defining, controlling reality in the Universe. My Universe anyway. With me as the center.

Something bad happens. I infer I must have done something wrong to offend God. Stuck in traffic? I probably pulled out in front of someone. Cut them off. My child is sick so I must have been horribly unkind to someone. An important email has not been returned, I most likely have yet to do the same. No one is reading my blog post today, God is paying me back for pride over the popularity of another post. Worse, I did something laudable and God is repaying me. So I look for checks in the mail.

I give lip service to grace but only have eyes for Karma.

So, all this was floating around in this head of mine along with prayers to God for belief in grace when something else struck me. I not only live as if Karma is true but I am an evangelist for what I call Reverse Karma.

Karma is believing we are getting repaid for all the good and bad we do. If we are good, we are repaid with good. If we are unkind, we are repaid in kind. Reverse Karma is different. It is the belief that something bad has happened to me so I have the right and need to be unkind to others.

I not only get in my head that if I wreck my car, it is because I was unkind but I also instinctively will be unkind with others when I wreck my car. When tragedy strikes, I will inevitably ask God why he would do such a thing and then proceed to thumb through the rolodex of my past and search for a reason why this tragedy has befallen me.

You probably do it too.

And then with the repeat of a loaded firearm I take aim and in response to the tragedy I recoil and retract with unkindness. My weapons are demanding and impatient, keeping a record of wrongs in a mental excel spreadsheet.

You probably do it too.

So here it is. I…we forget, ignore and betray the grace given in the cross and think God is always repaying us for our sins. Sins, which by the way, we cannot even imagine the number of. And then we turn around and in response to the payback, we dole out unkindness to others in word and deed. I get sick and wonder what I did to deserve it. My frustration over it all leads me to be frustrated with others.

The only thing which will cut all this off at the knees is buying into the reality of grace. Buying into a reality which is harder to see – that we are loved beyond imagination and not merely the targets for divinely wrought bolts of lightning. And buying into the call of doling out this grace – reacting to grace received with grace given.

The picture? A response to difficulty believing the God of all grace is working for our good and a desire to be good to those around us in the midst of the pain and inconvenience.

One thought on “My Struggle With Reverse Karma

  1. janetstephens June 29, 2011 / 8:07 pm

    Some deep insights on things we think without even realizing…

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