loving enemies

“Mom … What do you think the Bible means when it says ‘love your enemies'”, Snopes asks riding shotgun after carpool pick-up.

I’m sure her question was spurred on by a conversation she overheard between me and a college friend. We were catching up when a sad topic bubbled to the surface. We share a hurting friend whose husband could win the Jerk of the Year Award for 2012 – if there was such an award. And that would be nice considering what he’s been up to. Good thing they live a few states east of us. I might be tempted to give him a piece of my mind – like I have any to share!

Okay, so it wasn’t prudent of me to walk that road over the phone in front of my daughter. Even though it was brief and specifics-free, my girl could hear in the tone of my voice, not only sadness but flat out anger. I still can’t believe what he’s done. But I know my phone boundaries with kids nearby. So, yes those beeping sounds are from my truck backing up to start again. But since I did it… I might as well walk through the open door to address a tough subject that warrants discussion.

“Are you asking because you heard me getting mad?”

“Ummm… yes.” she ventures, not sure she should admit that she was listening in.

“I’m sorry you heard me frustrated. I just can’t believe how badly that man has hurt my friend… and I want to fix it… but I can’t… and he knew better … but he hurt her anyway. So what does she do?”

I pause. Because I really am sad. I’m sad at the hurt many marriages experience. I’m sad that hurt has become business as usual in so many homes. I’m sad for the kids whose lives are forever changed.

“Listen,” I continue, “what happened to them isn’t normal. Because he hurt her doesn’t mean your future husband will hurt you. But the “love your enemies” is really important. Enemies aren’t always soldiers fighting against each other. Sometimes – when we disagree – or when our feelings are hurt – or when we’ve been wronged – a friend can be an enemy sometimes – even a sister or brother… who knows.

The “love your enemy” is one of those incredibly important pieces to the puzzle of a peaceful life … for a couple reasons. First, if you love and forgive (which the Bible says to do that 70 x 7 times) – and that doesn’t mean you’re saying what they did is okay – you get your mind off yourself. When you forgive, you’re no longer a victim. When you love and forgive, you steer clear of being bitter. It’s hard, but with love comes peace. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true.

Second, loving your enemy has little to do with the enemy. Seems like by loving them, it means you’re giving them everything they want. But it doesn’t. Loving them has everything to do with you. God loves you. He knows our tendencies to wallow and replay every little heartbreaking detail. I don’t think God wants us wasting one second thinking negatively about our enemy because He loves us. Whoever has harmed you has done enough – don’t give them the satisfaction of spending any of your precious and valuable time or effort on them. Which, by the way, God has that covered, too. He’s pretty clear about vengeance being his. Maybe that’s part of it too… trusting Him … finding compassion.

And – even crazier, we were once God’s enemies. Thankfully he loved us enough to die for us so we could be family. I’m pretty sure He loves my friend’s husband, too. … Kind of adds perspective, huh?”

“Yeah…” she responded. We both sat silently – I needed to chew on it and contemplate more than she did.

Our moment ended abruptly. About this time, Jack decides to take off his shoes.The neighboring sibling squeals, “Ohhh… What’s that smell??!!”

Tired, Jack’s feelings are instantly hurt. The sibling grabs his shoe and puts it to her nose… Why would someone smell a shoe? … Hard to say… But not only did she smell it, the kid behind her had to grab it and take a whiff.  “It’s Jack’s feet,” she announces, then Backseat adds, “Ewwwww! Put your shoes back on!”

The smell quickly permeates our car that had already endured a bout odor issues by bad breath from another kid lumbering in after a long day of school. Gum fixed that one, but shoes-on was our only hope to escape this monster.

As if on cue, all but one in the car moans, “JACK! Put on your shoes!”

He starts to pout – and my love-your-enemy kid chimes in, “You’re hurting his feelings!”

Of course, she was right. Tears had started to soak his scowling little face. “You all need to say you’re sorry!” Right again. So, we do. He forgives. And thankfully slips the shoes back on his stinky feet. (I still roll the windows down for good measure.)

Maybe we weren’t full-on enemies, but we sure weren’t loving friends as we sported our coughing, nose-holding, moans of disgust. Thank goodness the kid is only five. He’s at the age where he can actually forgive and pretty much forget. We could probably all use a little of that.

Loving your enemies. It’s a tough topic. Often so complicated. But not without hope. Because, thankfully we never have to go it alone. … Would love to know your thoughts on the subject.

Thanks for walking the road with me.


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