Gospel of Matthew

Retroactively Loving My Enemy: Belated Peace Challenge for November 2013

When I read Kozo’s Peace Challenge for November 2013, Love Thy Enemy, on Everyday Gurus, my mind went spinning, wondering how I could do this challenge justice and give it the depth of attention it deserves. I truly do not see any individual, group, race, or follower of another creed as an enemy of mine.

That being said, I will be completely honest and acknowlede that there are those with whom I share enmity. People whom I don’t feel safe and comfortable around and those whom I believe share that discomfort, who may or may not view me as their enemy. There are people whom I have been in conflict with and with whom I desire mutual reparation and reconciliation in our relationships with one another. Primarily, these are people I love or have loved and who have been or are of great importance and significance to me and in my life.

The first thing I thought of was, “Loving my enemy as I love myself.” Let me see if I can piece together where that thought came from:

43 “You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

35 And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test Him: 36 “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?”

37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and most important command. 39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.

13 If I speak human or angelic languages
but do not have love,
I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
2 If I have the gift of prophecy
and understand all mysteries
and all knowledge,
and if I have all faith
so that I can move mountains
but do not have love, I am nothing.
3 And if I donate all my goods to feed the poor,
and if I give my body in order to boast
but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind.
Love does not envy,
is not boastful, is not conceited,
5 does not act improperly,
is not selfish, is not provoked,
and does not keep a record of wrongs.
6 Love finds no joy in unrighteousness
but rejoices in the truth.
7 It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never ends.

I have experienced feelings of enmity, bitterness, resentment, and anger toward loved ones and strangers alike. When I start having hateful, negative, vengeful thoughts and experience the choking sensation of tension and bile from harboring the darkness of these thoughts and feelings, which are often triggered from my own inner woundedness and pain being triggered by words and actions of those other people around me, I know I am making myself sick and poisoning the atmosphere around me, infecting the interactions and relationships I have with others.

There are a lot of people, whom I love and care about, who I feel at odds with and feel as if, on some level, they see me as an enemy. Despite how much I love and care for them and desperately wish I could be in relationship with them, I do not feel “safe” with them and know they feel the same with me. This puts up my defenses and some of those defenses are the thoughts and feelings of enmity which crop up whenever I think of them, hear or see their names, or encounter them in person.

Part of this feeling stems from and results in how I feel about myself and my ability to love who I am, as I am, unconditionally.

The longer I am on this healing and recovery journey, the more I’m coming to understand that I can’t love myself unconditionally without understanding, accepting, receiving, and internalizing the unconditional love of God. As I grow in this area, my capacity to practice patience, kindness, gratitude, humbleness, generosity, forgiveness, authenticity, belief, and hope in mysef and who I am increases. Growing in self-understanding, self-acceptance, and self-love is enabling me to grow in my ability to authentically and sincerely be loving toward others, especially those who have been difficult for me to express love to, those who have treated me as an enemy, even if I did not see them as such.