I’m not usually one for revenge.

Oh sure, I do the usual mumbling under my breath when someone cuts me off in traffic or takes the parking spot I was signaling for. But true offenses, like being lied to or stolen from, haven’t typically evoked a deep need for vengeance in me.

Until recently, that is.

It started sometime in September when I planted a pot full of fall lettuce. After taking into consideration the predicted weather, the decreasing daylight, and the hardiness of my seed, I determined that I had just enough time for another crop. After an easy planting and the perfect germination weather, my crop was off to a good start. Until one day, I noticed that most of the seedlings had been dug up and strewn across the patio. 

A quick investigation revealed the several of my other planters had evidence of digging, as well, and the only culprit could be one of the many squirrels that have been loping around my yard. I was mad; I’ll admit it. But I didn’t wish harm to the squirrels. At least not at that point.

So, I rearranged pots, added some twirling yard art and flowing streamers where I could to try to create the illusion of unpredictability. As skiddish as squirrels are, I figured they would be deterred. 

And they were for a while, until I showed up with a fresh pot of mums and a home grown pumpkin from my dad’s garden.  Within a day or two, there was evidence of more digging, and a hole in my pumpkin with the slightest hint of squirrel-sized teeth marks. 

But the real offense came a few days later when I brought home another pumpkin, this one with beautifully carved bats in the front. In just a day or two, the squirrel had eaten enough of the bats that they were now just sagging orange strips. And the original pumpkin, the one my dad had grown with his own hands, was beginning to look like it was carved from swiss cheese. Now I was ready for revenge.

The next day, I sprinkled cayenne pepper all over the pumpkin, especially in the chewed up pock marks where I knew the squirrel would start again the next time he came. I wasn’t sure what might happen to the furry little guy if he got a mouthful of fire, but by this time I didn’t care.

The plan worked for a few days until the rain washed away all the pepper, and once again it was eating season for my pumpkin. Eventually, I gave up. The squirrels won. I carried the pumpkin out next to the tree as a final act of surrender. “Enough, already. You can HAVE the pumpkin,” I thought, with vengeance still in my heart.

A few days later, as I was raking my front yard, I found the remains of a dead little squirrel nestled among the fallen leaves. At first I was horrified, then disgusted, then shameful. Was this my enemy, mortally wounded by my peppery weapon?

Whoever said, “Vengeance is sweet,” has never had to remove the remains of their enemy with a shovel and garbage bag. In vengeance, nobody wins. When God says, “Vengeance is mine,” he’s not just protecting our enemy. He’s protecting us from the shame and defeat that follows.

I don’t know for sure that my cayenne killed the squirrel, but I do know that my vengeful words and actions bring a slow death to both me and my human enemies when I seek to repay evil with evil. From now on, God can have the vengeance. It should have been His, anyway.