Dear Lauren and Lydia,
Today we heard a really great sermon about praying for our enemies. Pastor started off by telling us to “Be perfect” to which one person in jest said…”check”. Because the reality is…none of us are there. Frustratingly enough, no matter how hard we try or want it, we’re not there. Even your great grandma Hoffner who is a lovely person and has led a Godly life…is not there in her nineties.
Pastor then told us that to be perfect we need to pray for our enemies and that a sign of our maturity in Christ is how likely we are to pray for them, rather than talk badly about them, wish them evil, want justice, want them to pay, relish in their downfall, etc. but to simply and authentically pray for them.
He then went on to mention one of the statements Jesus made on the cross “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Clearly they knew they were crucifying Jesus and being terribly mean and hateful…but the crowd that day really didn’t understand what they were doing. They didn’t get it that Jesus was the Messiah, they were being taken down trails of evil without even fully realizing what was going on.
I could look at them and think…how in the world did they not know. But I’ve done the same. I do the same. Whenever I choose to make people my enemy instead of a friend…I’m doing the same.
We were given a couple of quotes today from Lincoln and Luther about making enemies your friend and how once you choose to pray for your enemies and to see them as a friend the status of “enemy” is destroyed.
Girls…you don’t want to carry around with you a list of enemies.
Stuff happens. Really hurtful stuff honestly. I know when your dad was in the ministry there were times when it would’ve been really easy to have had some ‘enemies’. But for the grace of God, we probably would’ve. I’m grateful that even during those times we seemed to be able to not hold too tightly to anger and hate. It would’ve just hurt us.
Usually enemies are the very people we love the most. Right in our own home. It makes sense. They are the people who are most aware of our deepest selves, our insecurities and flaws. Strangers don’t become my enemies most often. I can brush off those types of experiences. But pain that happens in your own home at the deepest level can be pretty tough to deal with.
The way I see it. There are generally 2 options that are taken when this kind of thing happens. Either people intensify their responses and get heated and angry and say things they regret. Or….they withdraw and give up and become like a robot. They’re sure nothing will ever change so why even try anymore.
Generally speaking…people marry where one is one way and the other is the other. That’s how it was with your dad and I. I was the intensify and push through person. He was the withdraw and shut down person. Eventually I would push hard enough for him to let it all fly. It wasn’t a pretty thing.
We loved each other. We still do. But along the way we often stopped believing the best and understanding the principle of saying “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Misunderstandings in tone of voice, careless words and other misgivings became fodder for enemy territory. I wish that we would’ve always just believed the best about each other all the time.
Where we set our minds is where we will go. Maybe it sounds fake or phony to say it. But if you choose to believe the best about someone else and their motives and intentions you will start to only see the best and the good. If you choose to see the worst in someone else and focus on their untrustworthiness or their flaws, then those bad things will seem to abound.
I think you could do a scientific experiment and put a person in a relationship who would believe only the best and a person who would believe only the worst about someone and you would be amazed at how differently they would describe the same person.
When we believe the best about others…we see them the way God sees them.
You can fight, say mean words, have misunderstandings, repeat the same junk every day, say more mean words, be annoyed and irritated with someone, love them and yet hate them all day long over and over for weeks, months, years and a lifetime if you’re not careful. People do it all the time. It’s a miserable way to live.
Or…you can cooperate, give in, pray, encourage, look for the best, confront the stuff that needs to be confronted in a gentle but firm way, notice the good, speak words of hope all day, over and over for weeks, months, years and have a wonderful life with people you love. It’s a beautiful way to live.
Who would want to be miserable? Why would they? Only people who must cling to their idea of what’s fair and right and what they deserve. Only people who think of themselves and no one else.
Please learn to go above and beyond on love. Please learn to do small acts of kindness everyday even if the other person doesn’t deserve it. Especially when they don’t deserve it. This will be a sign that you are really filled with the Presence of God.
Anyone can love people who are lovable and meeting our needs. It takes a real God transformation to love people who are annoying, get in our space, irritate us, etc.
I encourage you to pray for each other. To love each other well. To give grace extravagently. To believe only the best about each other. You will have no regrets if you do.
Love your momma who wants no enemies in my life. And loves you enough to want you to have none either.