Difficult Love

Over the last few weeks I have been thinking and writing about love. It’s easy to focus on loving some people. Usually they are friends, family members, even strangers that we read about who have done good things. This year for Valentine’s Day, please think about loving your enemies as well. That’s more difficult.

 We think of love as a feeling, an emotion. We forget that love is also a choice. Humanity has a history of responding to hurt, unfairness, evil with a need for vengeance. This response offers no help to our world, to ourselves or to our enemies. It only makes things worse.

The Bible tells us that God says, “Vengeance is mine.” We know this, yet it feels impossible to let go of our anger  and hurt so that we can choose love. Even so, I believe that with God all things are possible, so I start with prayer. That does not mean asking God to rain down punishment or disaster on our enemies, or asking God to change them to make them just like me. Over the years, I’ve learned to pray differently. Today, I offer this prayer form to you. Sometimes having a pattern to follow helps, especially when our feelings don’t match what we are saying to God. Here is the prayer. Please substitute the name of your enemy in the blank. It could be a personal enemy or a world leader, or whoever

Loving and forgiving God, I know you forgive me when I make mistakes, do bad things, make poor choices. Today, I am praying for _________.  I am feeling hurt and angry. Loving _________ as your beloved child feels impossible, yet I believe with you all things are possible. There is goodness in _________. Help __________ and me to see that goodness. Open my heart right now to name one example of your goodness that lies within __________.  Heal what is broken in both of us. Thank you, God for helping me to pray for _________. Keep me praying for him/her each and every day. Amen

In prayer we open our hearts and the universe to God’s healing love. We may never see the effect our prayer has on our enemy. Experience has taught me that a daily prayer like the one above will heal my heart, will root out the infection of hatred and bring peace. February, the month of love is a great month to begin praying in God’s love for your enemies. It just may change your life.

 “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[a] says the Lord. 20 On the contrary, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.  (Romans 12:19-21)

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