My brain can be slow. Like really slow. It can take me months (or even years) to put pieces together and figure it out.
Back in January I ran across this interesting little article Who Jesus Talked About When He Talked About Enemies. Long enough ago it took me several minutes searching to find it in the labyrinth of internet. And while looking I found several other quite informative posts on the topic.
Now, I’ve spent most of my life thinking I don’t have enemies, there is no one I wish harm on. (Which most certainly isn’t to say that I don’t get angry, even really angry, just that even when I am I still love people, too.)
But by this explanation enemies aren’t people I would harm but people who would harm me.
A while back someone gave me the “I love you but I don’t like you” routine, and then proceeded with a thorough inventory of everything he finds unlikable about me. Let’s just say they certainly weren’t kind words. OK, they were the sort of words that sting and burn and hurt. Even knowing that they aren’t true. To top it off I’ve often felt used by this person, like I am only good enough to be a friend when it is all about him. Maybe I’m being too nice here. He has actually done and said a few things that not only hurt but harmed. I’ve tried to keep that phrase, “all sinner, all saint” in mind and remember that I most certainly am not perfect and have hurt people in my life. I’ve tried to be kind and make excuses, tried to be understanding, tried to serve as much as I can, tried prayer and patience, tried appreciation and gratitude. I feel like I’m feeding a black hole. And then he comes around and says that he feels hated by me.
Now, it has become all to obvious that no matter what I do I am, at best, a means to an end. He is determined to find something not to like and to feel hated and use it as justification. There is nothing I can do.
That sounds so hopeless. Hopelessness may be the only thing I do truly hate. Powerlessness I can handle. If hope is gone there really is no point.
At heart I am a hopeful realist. That sounds like such a contradiction. It is often a perplexing paradox to live. I am very much aware of reality, of the human condition, of the warming planet, of suffering and broken hearts and broken people, aware of the reality of people using other people, of injustice and inequality (although I did just read a thing about how human’s sense of equity compares to God’s sense of justice. I’ll have to keep thinking on that for now). In short, I know just how hard and hopeless life is. But I have clung to hope when I could find nothing else. Hope deserves it’s own post. Or maybe it’s own book. At a particularly bleak time in my life a professor put a quote about hope in my hands and it has held me up ever sense. There is ALWAYS hope. But usually I have to accept hope “from elsewhere” because, to be honest, my hope isn’t really my own. On my own I’m just a realist. The glass is both half empty and half full. And I know where the sink is.
So I have to accept the reality of here is someone I love dearly who hates me. OK, who really, really doesn’t like me and is willing be mean and demeaning. I could be a saint but if I had a pimple he’d point it out and tease and keep teasing and use it as an excuse for why I deserve to be teased and am basically not worth simple manners. Somehow my zit is a personal insult to him. And it’s hard to accept this reality because it hasn’t always been this way. I know the friend I love must still be in there somewhere. I don’t know how to stop loving. Or as my first husband put it, “YOU DON’T KNOW WHEN TO QUIT!!!” Most of the time he was too drunk to make any sense, but that has the ring of truth to it. I don’t quit. Even when I fail over and over and over.
Now, I suppose half the problem is that he feels hated and wants me to be responsible for how he feels. I can offer my best efforts to help someone feel loved but the feeling part is out of my control. I can’t say if he really wishes me harm or if the harmful things he does are more along the lines of lashing out and attempting to exert power. I don’t know if he really meets that full definition of enemy. And I don’t think anything is ever irreconcilable. That is hopelessness and faithlessnes and lovelessness and looking for a selfish easy way out. But that’s not my inventory to take. What I do know is that here is a person who has been more than willing to harm me. I do know that mending anything with two parts requires the full cooperation of both parts. (This is why when my ex wanted to move and jumped right to divorce at the first hint of difficulty I made little effort to stop him.) I do know that this has been a long term friendship and which could be beautiful and beneficial for a long time to come. But that he flat refuses to consider any suggestions or possible solutions I put forward. In other words, he would rather be mad and get his way than even consider how I feel or take any responsibility for his own feelings.
Based on the evidence I’ve been shown I need to consider that yes, approaching this as loving an enemy is realistic.