Loving Enemies

I sit on the periphery of the playground, watching girls play hopscotch and my grade-school crush toss a football to his many friends.  He is popular, and I am mostly invisible. My lunchtime recess is spent sitting on a two-foot tall log, wondering if fourth grade will be any different than all the grades that came before.

One of the popular girls taps me on the shoulder.  She invites me to play hopscotch. Still stunned that they would even ask, I tell her I can’t because I don’t have a trinket to toss.  She suggests my necklace and I run my fingers along the gold chain and the small pendant dangling from it.  It’s a gift from my grandma.  I choose to join, hopeful that they have decided to be my friends.

We play hopscotch for the next twenty minutes.  The bell rings, signaling the end of recess, and everyone rushes to gather their things to go inside.  I search the painted boxes of the hopscotch board.  My necklace is gone.  It’s the third one I’ve “lost” and I know my mom will think I’m irresponsible.  I also know that I’ll let her believe that because, in my mind, it’s better than her knowing I’m gullible.

After every sting of betrayal, I often felt anger – even hatred.  I vowed to never trust them or be duped into giving them anything.  I wanted to be invisible and I wanted them to go away.  I didn’t wish them harm; I just wanted them to disappear, like the mate to the sock that’s been sitting on my dryer for eight months now.

It’s safe to say that I never felt love for my tormentors.  I never prayed for God to warm their hearts or bless them with happiness.  My (selfish) prayers begged for an end to my suffering.  It took many years to forgive them and accept that their taunting was necessary to make me, “me.”

The topic I read in my Life’s Simple Guide to God book that reignited these memories was titled “Pray for Those Who Curse You.”  The referenced scripture shined a spotlight on one of my deficiencies:

[Jesus said] You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you:  Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.—Matthew 5:43-45

I don’t waste time “hating” those who have hurt me, but I have yet to say a positive prayer for the enemies who have wronged me.  Just as I grew from my experiences, I hope they also gained knowledge which molded them into caring adults, capable of compassion.  I hope they found the security in themselves to feel confidence without stealing it from others.

Do you love your enemies?  How do you know you’ve accomplished forgiveness?  When praying for an enemy, what do you pray for?

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18 thoughts on “Loving Enemies

  1. nrhatch July 17, 2011 / 8:14 AM

    At the moment, I don’t have any “enemies.”
    I have friends, acquaintances, and strangers.

    I don’t wish harm to anyone . . . but I tend to wish good things to “good people” and not care very much when “harm” befalls someone with less than stellar qualities. 😀

    For example, when Osama bin Laden was cornered and killed, I didn’t grieve for him or his loved ones.

    Sad about your necklace . . . not the loss of the “trinket” . . . but the motivating factors that move people to take advantage of one another.

    • jannatwrites July 17, 2011 / 8:06 PM

      I don’t have any enemies now, either (that I know of.) It’s been several years since my last “enemy” revealed herself and that was a toxic experience. I needed the reminder that just because people are nice to me doesn’t mean they are truly nice, or that they wouldn’t betray me to serve their own interests. Lesson re-learned 🙂

      I also tend to be indifferent about not-so-nice people. I could stand to show a little more love!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Nancy.

  2. Debbie July 17, 2011 / 8:48 AM

    Janna, your story took me right back there with you! My heart went out to the little girl you were, and I’m so glad to know you’ve grown past that into a strong, more confident woman! Forgiving our enemies is something we must do — not for them but for ourselves. I’m not sure we ever 100% forget,the bad, hurtful things they did, but we have to forgive them because God told us to. When we’re open to His Love, He will enable us to do just that.

    • jannatwrites July 17, 2011 / 8:12 PM

      I don’t think about early childhood too much, because I don’t like who I was back then. I don’t think we should forget wrongs done to us because then we might forget the lessons we learned from them. When I forgive the person, I can think about what happened in a more distanced, analytical way. If I feel my anger and hurt feelings inflame again, I know forgiveness hasn’t happened yet. (Unfortunately, it can take me years to forgive. Better late than never, right? :))

      With God’s help, forgiveness does happen. I appreciate you stopping by to share your thoughts on forgiveness, Debbie.

  3. Carl D'Agostino July 17, 2011 / 9:23 AM

    Christ obligates us to be loving and forgiving. I can do this for some family and friends, but for enemies – no way. So I admit I don’t live up to the standard. But I do not plot to get even. I delete the toxic people from my life. Now if loving and forgiving means we do not treat them in such a harmful way as they have treated us, that I accept. Do not react to evil or harm in kind.

    • jannatwrites July 17, 2011 / 8:22 PM

      It’s a high standard, Carl; one that I have trouble living up to. I think removing ourselves from the ‘toxic people’ is a natural step to prevent further hard feelings. I also think that the love God expects us to show our enemies is more than just not wishing them harm. That’s something I can’t do on my own – I have to have God’s help.

      Thanks for stopping by today. I can relate to your sentiments.

  4. clarbojahn July 17, 2011 / 2:09 PM

    One of the lessons in the workbook in a Course in Miracles says we must forgive all our grievances to grow spiritually. It took me many days to think of all of them and then I don’t think I was done.
    Thank Heaven Jesus doesn’t remember our errors or mistakes. We do because we think we are separated from God and even that is a mistake. Many think it is our sin but Jesus doesn’t believe in sin so should we?

    • jannatwrites July 17, 2011 / 8:28 PM

      I get past most minor transgressions easily, so I don’t think I could remember them. If it’s not bothering me in the present, I don’t go back and think about the wrongs of the past. Those only surface when something triggers me to think about them (like the loving enemies reading topic.)

      God forgives our sins if we ask His forgiveness. I’m not so sure He completely forgets them, though. There’s no way to know for sure until Judgment Day.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Clar. I’m glad you visited today.

  5. pattyabr July 17, 2011 / 5:38 PM

    For me it takes a long time to separate the wrongs from enemies and forgive. It also takes me a long time to forgive my friends who wrong me as well. I read a quote from another blogger today that may be appropriate here:

    George Washington:“Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.”http://mamasemptynest.wordpress.com/

    Life is short, Pray hard. I saw this on a T-shirt 18 years ago when World Youth Day came to Denver in 1993. My daughter, now 20 years old, is going to World Youth Day in Spain in about 2 weeks. When we come to God our hearts are filled, when life intervenes we can become disheartened. It is easy for the secular world to dishearten us from the goodness of God. Time and maturity help all.

    • jannatwrites July 17, 2011 / 8:34 PM

      I can relate, Patty. Minor hurts I can get over quickly, but when someone I love wrongs me, forgiveness is a slow, slow process. I love your comment, “When we come to God our hearts are filled, when life intervenes we can become disheartened.” It is so true. It feels like the world pulls me away from God and trying to become closer to Him is like swimming against a riptide current.

      If time and maturity help all, then there is hope for me yet 🙂 Thanks for sharing your comments and the quote (which is fitting.)

  6. Carol Ann Hoel July 17, 2011 / 9:58 PM

    I think I’d pray for mercy for my enemies, because none of us is able to bear the price of justice for our deeds. Without mercy and grace, we would all be as condemned as our enemies, because we are all flawed. Blessings to you, Janna…

    • jannatwrites July 18, 2011 / 10:29 PM

      You’re right, Carol – without mercy and grace we are all condemned. There aren’t any exceptions.

      I appreciate your visit, especially with everything you have going on right now.

  7. Jackie Paulson Author July 18, 2011 / 10:27 PM

    [Jesus said] You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.—Matthew 5:43-45
    What a profound statement. I do pray for those who chose to treat me badly. I pray for all lost souls and my new saying is, “if you don’t want to go to heaven-I am not going to Hell with you.” So, salvation is the only answer for me. Great post and thanks for always being so kind as to stop by my blogs. Jackie ~

    • jannatwrites July 18, 2011 / 10:34 PM

      It is good that your pray for lost souls. I’m working more and keeping up a prayer list, and enemies will be included 😉

      I enjoy reading your posts. I catch up at least once a week (twice if I’m lucky). And I thank you for stopping by here when you can, Jackie!

  8. pattisj July 19, 2011 / 12:29 PM

    I know forgiveness was achieved when I stopped holding a grudge against an incessant liar. I was hurt when this person lied to me, as I thought we were close friends (family, even) and could be honest with one another. Now when we see each other, I can love them as they are, and don’t believe anything they say.

    • jannatwrites July 19, 2011 / 10:52 PM

      It sounds like you did succeed here, Patti. It is hard to get past those hurts – and for me, it’s more difficult when it’s a relationship that I must continue. Your last statement made me smile – you love them because you should, but know better than to trust them.

      Thanks for sharing your forgiveness experience.

  9. dorcas July 20, 2011 / 5:40 AM

    I can’t even pray for a friend when she and I are competing for the same job 😦 . SO, I can;t even talk about enemies… Lord, we really need you grace…

    • jannatwrites July 20, 2011 / 7:42 PM

      That is human, Dorcas. It’s not pretty, but I’ve been there, too – torn between being happy for someone else’s opportunity, but a part of me hoping it won’t work out for selfish reasons. Thank goodness for God’s grace, indeed. I hope God will give you the strength to say the prayer your human heart can’t say alone.

      Thanks for your honest comment 🙂

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