“Love your enemies.”
Clearly, Jesus was not talking about me.
His audience must have been the “thousands of years ago brutal mob who was known to occasionally throw stones and needed some serious behavioral modification.”
I don’t have any enemies! At least, I don’t think so…
I’m a suburban housewife with four children and a puppy.
Who loves people.
And generally, on most days- when the sun is shining and I’m not wearing my bathrobe to the bus stop- people like me back!
So, again I ponder, what do Jesus’ profound words have to do with me?
A spark went off one morning at my weekly Bible Study. We were speaking about marriages and a darling woman at my table spoke beautiful words of wisdom. “When things get tough, I do the opposite.” And then she smiled. Opposite? I asked her. She went on to elaborate that when she feels angry with her spouse, or frustrated with her children, she does the exact opposite of what she would normally do. A hug, a kiss, a kind word, a grand gesture, the list could go on. We were hanging on her every word around the table as she spoke, and another woman asked what we were all asking ourselves. “And?????” We were simply spilling over to know what happened next after such a dramatic downshift. Her smile said it all.
I decided right then and there that I was intrigued.
Little did I know, the Lord was going to give me an opportunity to practice such a part in the play around dinner time that very evening.
My husband had been working extremely long hours for months and I was once again tired from the battering of motherhood’s mayhem. I kept my eye on the clock all afternoon, wishing the numbers on the stove to say 5:30- when I would see my sweet spouse’s face finally appear. I knew the day’s rollercoaster would come to a halt once he surfaced from the basement.
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As I spooned spaghetti into five colorful plastic bowls and was reaching for the sixth, my phone made a ding.
I glanced over to read, “I’ll be late tonight. I’m so sorry.”
At that exact moment, a heavy heat flooded over my face and weariness overcame my entire body. I can’t do this on my own anymore, I thought to myself. Tears burst through and noodles poured over.
I excused myself to the bathroom and no one even noticed. I don’t know if that made it easier or not. I felt so invisible during this time, although I was working the hours of both parents and keeping the house together with my every move.
Do the Opposite
Between sobs and blotting my eyes, I looked up to see one of the many little wooden signs adorning my walls. 1 Corinthians 16:14(NIV): “Let all that you do be done in love.”
Instantly, I was reminded of my friend’s words around the table at the intimate gathering earlier that morning. “I do the opposite.”
Well, Monica- what would the “opposite” be here? What is the complete other side of the spectrum from sitting in a half bath, crying tears of anger, and wallowing in self-pity?
I knew what I needed to do.
So, I picked myself up off the floor and took a deep breathe in, whispered “Come Holy Spirit”, and opened the door into the chaos of the kitchen.
I reached high up into the China cabinet. I fumbled deep through the fancy silverware drawer. I folded and fixed, spooned, and sauced.
And after a long pause, I wrote.
I called over to one of my girls and asked them if they would please take this plate down to Daddy. She tilted her head, counted the five colored bowls overflowing on the counter, and then slowly read my note.
With an innocent truth and kindness that only a child can express, she smiled at me and said, “Mom, you’re a good Christian.”
More tears- but the really good kind.
I knew then what Jesus meant.
Love Your Enemies
Enemies are not always in angry mobs and armed.
Enemies are not always people.
Enemies are not always seen.
In fact, sometimes, enemies can only be felt.
They might be disguised as the rolling waves of emotional adversities that toss us around morning, noon, and night.
And just like stones thrown- they can bring about destruction, pain, and heartache.
And what did Jesus say to do with those enemies?
And finally, words that always seemed so crazy suddenly made so much sense.
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I’m pretty sure if I continue this journey of attacking the negative with a positive approach, the possibilities are endless. And not just limited to the walls of my own home. I have a hunch I might send out a lot more love into this broken world than ever before.
About the Author
Monica Stoltzfus is a writer, crafter, and lover of the Bible. She is on the leadership team at her nationally known Catholic Women’s Bible Study, Walking with Purpose and also leads BLAZE (for young girls). Her debut picture book, “The Ripple“, about spreading kindness, was awarded 1st place by the National Indie Excellence Awards for “Best Inspirational Children’s Book.” Her newest book, entitled “Just Compose Yourself: Finding Hope in Spilled Coffee” came out June of 2022 and is a collection of stories about faith and motherhood. When not writing books, she writes on her personal blog- www.justcomposeyourself.com – sharing encouragement, advice, and creative ideas. A mother of four daughters, she feels blessed and inspired daily.