Love Your Enemies… Even If You Don’t Think You Have Any
“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.
Related Post: Summer Stress
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.
Related Post: Love the Sinners
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.
Monica reading this gave me more inspiration to continue the path of love towards the mother of Andrew’s children. It has been a very frustrating time for us and not being able to see the girls like we used to is very hard but we are putting love forward instead of frustration and praying we will overcome because of love!
My dear Aunt Sylvia-
My prayers have been with you daily as you walk this difficult journey. I am beyond touched by your words of encouragement and the positivity and love you are fighting for. Oh, how it’s not easy! But the reward is great. Sending lots of love. You are beautiful on the inside and out💓.
Loved your post. Thank you for your beautiful thoughts, witty writing and a sound Christian teaching. Hope we read more from you
Thank you so much for your kind words! I hope approaching the world with an opposite view of heart might help to change the way we view our trials. Love conquers all!
So good. So practical to apply this to those who live and work with us.
Thank you so much for reading and commenting! I have honestly used this new “strategy” daily in my own home and with those around me- while running errands, on phone calls, etc! The possibilities are endless for spreading more love 💕.
Thank you for sharing your insight. I find your writing so relatable. In a world where everyone seems to portray perfection, it’s refreshing that you acknowledge everyday struggles. I love how you turn to God’s word to navigate through daily trials and how you apply his teachings. I look forward to reading more.
I’m so glad you can relate to this story and the shortcomings that I journey through daily. Without God, I’d be a mess! At the very least, still in that half bath feeling sorry for myself! “Thy word is a lamp into my feet…” -Psalm 119:105
I return to His Word to get my feet and heart moving in the right direction♥️ Thank you so much for reading!
What wise advice. And I love your application of it, too. Many times our enemies are those we can’t see with our own eyes. Lovely reminder today. I’ll be keeping the opposite in mind.
Thank you so much for reading! It was the biggest lightbulb when I heard the idea of doing the opposite & even more when I realized my daily battles really are against the unseen enemies! It’s changed the way I’m walking through the valleys, for sure. Peace be with you on your journey!
Monica, I love this advice, “Just do the opposite.”
In fact, as Christians, we are called to live opposite of how the world lives. Now more than ever, the opposite of what the world would do is love!
I’m so glad you are finding this advice helpful! It has been life changing for me. There isn’t a place in my world that can’t use more ❤️, and doing the opposite, and it is absolutely what we are called as Christians to do. Thank you for reminding me of that!
This is great and gives my heart a place to go as I am currently reading in the psalms. Those imprecatory psalms are brutal. I usually challenge myself to think about the people who annoy me and pray for them.
I love the Psalms, too- and boy, do they challenge us! What great insight- to pray for those who trouble us… just what the world needs. And to go back to bracelets of the 90’s, “WWJD- What Would Jesus Do?” I believe he would want us to challenge ourselves as you are! Keep up the good work❤️Here’s to spreading more love!
Monica, thanks for this nudge to ‘do the opposite.’ This shows the grace of responding rather than reacting. And it’s only His grace that does that.
Good to meet you this evening …
Thank you so much for reading! I love what you said about responding not reacting. It’s so important not to jump quickly in our heated moments- but not always easy to do! Thank goodness for the Holy Spirit💓!