How Do I Love My Enemies?
“You want me to do what?” I asked. “I can’t stand that guy… he is a terrible person.”
I was standing in front of Findley, my AA sponsor, and he was telling me to pray for the people I hated… I mean, harbored a resentment against! I thought he was crazy.
My first year of sobriety in 2000 was a rocky one. I faced a solid 11 months of unemployment. It wasn’t for a lack of trying. There were no radio jobs available. There also wasn’t factory work, sales jobs or stocking shelves at Toys ‘R Us. I tried for all of them. Praying for my enemies was not high on my to-do list.
But, Findley said it wasn’t about them, it was about me. He made a simple suggestion that my prayer start out simple. He suggested something like, “Lord, please help that so-and-so to keep breathing the rest of the day.” It didn’t have to be a great, poignant, prayer. It just had to be honest. He wanted me to try this for 30 days.
So, I did that. True to form, my prayers for this individual weren’t very lovely in the beginning. But as the days and weeks rolled by, the prayers began to improve. I found myself praying for his family, his business, and his salvation. My prayers were improving and my resentments were leaving.
It’s hard to do. And, honestly, it’s my last resort. I wish I was quicker to do this but God knows I need to learn some lessons over and over.
It reminds me of a line in Matthew West’s song “Forgiveness.”
“It flies in the face of all your pride
It moves away the mad inside
It’s always anger’s own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge
Say you’ve got a right to hold a grudge
It’s the whisper in your ear saying set it free.”
So, take my friend Findley’s advice. Pray a prayer for 30 days over the person who the thought of just sticks in your craw. Then, watch your crummy prayer turn into something beautiful.