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The angry man, the chocolate and why Jesus' way works

By Jo Swinney | 2 March 2018 | Comments (13)

A few years ago, I’d just collected Daughter Number Two from nursery and was about to put her in the car when a man stormed out of his house and began to shout at me. Here’s the thing: about an eighth of my front wheel was protruding across his driveway.

The force of his rage was impressive. His veins bulged. His eyeballs protruded. He spat and paced and pushed his face right up into mine for emphasis. It went on… and on. People stopped and stared. The grass under his feet withered. Men grew beards and birds flew south and back again.  Okay, so maybe it didn’t last that long, but have you ever noticed how slowly seconds pass while you are being shouted at?

He finally stomped back into his house and I drove away, feeling rather shaky.  Usually, I would have reacted like this:

  1. Cry (and actually, I did. I am a crier, what can I say?)
  2. Think of lots of reasons why it was unfair and I was in the right.
  3. Find people to tell about it, and make sure they were on my side.
  4. Try to find an alternative route to nursery and feel faintly depressed every time I went anywhere near the scene of the conflict.

Instead, as I drove home, I think I heard God ask me, “How are you going to find a way to bring good out of this?” I remembered hearing Angry Man say something about his wife having cancer, and it was as though there was a script of the scene in front of me with those words highlighted.

I got home and did number 2 and 3, and my ex-gangsta, now-vicar hubbie asked if I wanted him to go and have a word, which was very nice. But then I wrote the man a card and bought him some chocolate, and committed to pray for him and his wife until July when the nursery routine would be over.

I saw him a couple of afternoons later and asked him if he got my card. We talked about the cancer, and I told him I was praying. He said sorry for shouting, but every day is a bad day, and small things just set him off.

I don’t know if this is something good, but I am grateful that God showed me a way to avoid number 4, because I really don’t know if there is another way to get to nursery that doesn’t involve skydiving.

Jesus had a radical approach to conflict. If you are wronged, he taught, show your enemy extreme generosity. They sue you for your shirt? Hand over your coat as well. Go the extra mile. Turn the other cheek. We know these phrases well, but in practise aren’t we all more likely to follow human instinct and hit back, slightly harder? I know I am. But what I learnt in this very minor altercation was that Jesus’ way works. If we can overlook the fact that you could argue that in this scenario Angry Man was the wronged one not me (though I’d remind you he did shout very loudly at me. Poor me!) by giving him chocolate rather than evil stares, the conflict deescalated. Paul writes to the Romans, ‘Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good’ (12:21).  A little generosity can go a long way.


Uncertainty, instability and generosity 



Posted by Jo Swinney

Jo Swinney is an author, editor and speaker. She is Director of Communications at Christian Publishing and Outreach and lives in Bath with her husband and two daughters. @joswinney



March 16, 2018 12:50 PM
Thank you for this excellent little blog.


May 15, 2018 6:22 PM
Thanks for sharing. A brilliant example of "what would Jesus do?" (I'll try and remember it next time I encounter "angry man/woman"!

Helen Reed

May 16, 2018 6:07 AM
Yes this is the answer
When I have managed to act in the way I believe god would want me to it


May 16, 2018 6:40 AM
I love hearing examples of when doing what God says, works! This blog has a lovely way of making truth accessible and easy to understand. Keep up the good work!


May 16, 2018 6:49 AM
Thank you for this practical example of living your faith. Enjoyed reading this.


May 16, 2018 8:23 AM
Thank you for sharing. What would you do if your nearby neighbour keeps being difficult with you and tell tales to other neighbours about you? And, use their children to throw stones, soil etc into your garden?


May 16, 2018 10:10 AM
Thanks for having the courage of following through on your convictions on this. It's really encouraging.

Paul Fenner (Revd)

May 16, 2018 10:17 AM
Dear Jo, Can I please use this really helpful story as a sermon illustration?
There would be one condition however. If you agree, you and hubby would have to 'test' out a free sample of our BRIX chocolate for wine - see Tough call I know. Psalm 119: 103 perhaps?


May 16, 2018 12:13 PM
Thank you for sharing you blog. It is very helpful plus the scripture reference as need to be putting this into action myself at the moment.

Bob Johnson

May 16, 2018 2:47 PM
Thanks, Jo, for sharing this wonderful story of reconciliation through simple generosity (Certainly the chocolate was the

Lesley Hughes

May 16, 2018 8:32 PM
This blog really struck a cord with me on several levels. Thank you!

Stephen Biggs

May 16, 2018 10:02 PM
Good blog!

It's so easy to forget that God's way is usually completely the opposite direction to "my way".

Your post reminds me of my grumpy sulk at the Nationwide a few months ago.

I went in to resolve a small dispute, and the chap behind the counter listened, explained, and then asked if I had ever tried their APP.

Somehow he managed to convert a grumpy customer into a very happy one, perhaps we can use this and your post as a lesson.

We can turn life's disappointments into The Lord's success stories.

Colin Reeves

July 26, 2018 10:28 AM
This story needs wider telling. Can we use it in church magazines? The Association for Church Editors might circulate it to their members. Please reply.

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