Jesus’ command that we love our enemy is another one of God’s rules that I usually put in the same category as green beans and dental work; I’ll do it because it’s good for me, but don’t ask me to like it. What a huge mistake. Loving your enemy is not just green vegetables for your soul. Done right, it is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have.
I recently had a major run-in with someone. Things were said that could be stewed over for a lifetime. I purchased the doll, the pins, and I was ready to go to the library for the book on voodoo. This was a resentment that I could relish. I spent hours telling Mr. Blankety-Blank,So-and-So off in my mind, and rehearsing the many subtle ways I would snub him at cocktail parties in the future. Ooh, the bile soup I had prepared was delicious.
Then I realized that it really was bile soup. Sour, nasty stuff that made me sick. While I was making my plans for vengeance, I was mean and sulky, and that feeling got transmitted to my wife, to my other working relationships, even to the dog (and we don’t HAVE a dog!). I wanted to make my enemy suffer. I accomplished making myself miserable.
A friend suggested a new approach. Whenever blankety-blank so-and-so appeared in my mind, he suggested that I ask God to bless him. No, you can’t pray that this person’s car runs into a manure wagon; it has to be a real prayer. Ask God to give them a good day. And then move on. I gave it a try and quickly found that it was the most effective little prayer I’ve ever prayed. I have no idea whether blankety-blank so-and-so had a good day or not, but I know that I did.
I kept that up for a few days, and then something else unexpected happened. Blankety-blank so-and-so asked if he could buy me breakfast. No, he didn’t give me the huge ego boost of telling me he was wrong, I was right and could he please build a statue in my honor. He just wanted to talk. It wasn’t even about the grievous injury my ego had sustained. We talked. And I enjoyed the conversation. I enjoyed his company. A man who was the newest entry on my list of resentments is now on my list of friends.
It’s a really simple prayer. And it feels really good. Maybe green vegetables are kinda tasty after all. Give it a try.