LOVE OF ENEMY

 A poster on my desk.

A poster on my desk.

LOVE OF ENEMY

I have been thinking about freedom and integrity lately.  How do we sustain a sense of our own values when others around us seem to be threatening them? How do we live as people of faith who have been taught to love our enemies when those who threaten us hurt us with their actions or inactions?

Jesus advice was to love our enemies—to pray for those who persecute us. To pray for those who seem to wish us ill-will is not easy. To love those who would hurt us seems counter-intuitive. We are inclined to strike back, to wish ill for those who hurt us.

But, when I let other’s behavior determine my behavior, do I lose my freedom to be myself? I do not like myself when I am a hating person. I do not like myself when all I can do is respond in kind to those whose actions hurt me. When we do unto others what they do to us, we are not free. We are controlled by them.

So, praying for those who hurt us keeps me centered in what I care about—spreading kindness and love. To love those who hurt me is to pay attention to them as humans—as people who may be hurting me out of their own hurt—to see them as complex and maybe even confused—to see them as people who are unable to see my hurt and pain.

But, I want to maintain my integrity—my freedom to define who I am and how I will act. And when I pray instead of pout, when I love instead of lash out, I am able to continue to define who I am and work to be who I want to be.