Sunday, October 29, 2006

The unexpected result of enemy prayer

I know, I've been horrible about posting here lately. Chalk it up to being busy, being stressed, and well, having a few things in my heart really challenged lately.

I've been praying for a couple we know that in a lot of ways, have been our enemies. One half of the couple is now becoming a close friend-again. The thing about this couple is that they're in the midst of a very nasty divorce. And I do mean nasty. However, a few days ago, the person we're in contact with started asking us about reconciliation, and if there was anything we could do.

Insert jaw on the floor.

God's been working on my heart on this one, and the thing that I didn't expect is that this person, who's That Man's friend, and I have been talking. And clearing some past junk out of our relationship. Crazy stuff.

And while this person has since indicated a hesitancy towards reconciliation, the one thing that has happened is that this person is seeking God again. Amazing stuff.

Maybe it's our prayers, and maybe it's not. But it has created in me an urgency to keep praying. There is so much healing needed in both of these folks lives that I just pray and pray and pray that they will draw closer to God and be healed by the master healer.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Maybe I still live in a crazy naive world, but I always thought that family was supposed to love each other no matter what. And so, it never fails to devastate me when I realize that of all the people on this earth who hurt me the most, it's certain family members who tend to do the greatest harm. I don't want to be specific, because even though I'm talking about enemies, I'm sure you've all realized by now that I don't want to hurt anyone, and I especially would never want anyone hurt because I called them my enemy.

But the truth is, we all have enemies in our family. There's someone, a mother, a father, a brother, a sister, an aunt, an uncle, a child, an ex, or some other random psycho who tends to make our lives a lot more difficult. We have no choice but to love these people, and certainly, we're forced to share way more family dinners than we'd care to with them.

In all honesty, I'd just prefer to remove these people from my life. My greatest dream has always been to live on an island somewhere where I never had to deal with some of these people. Pretty unrealistic, eh? But Jesus has another answer-He asks us to love our enemies. Which means all of my evil plots are for naught.

What strikes me, though, is how I am not alone in having family members like this-every person I've shared details with has shared a similar family story.

Lord, I want to pray for the enemies in our families, for the relatives who take great pleasure in tearing us down, in letting us know that we will never be good enough, and in making us feel like we are nothing. In You, we have a greater family, headed by a loving Father who looks at us in adoration, regardless of what we do. Though certain members of our earthly families might break promises, act without integrity, and wreck havoc on our lives, You, our Heavenly Father, will never break a promise, will never forsake us, and will never leave us out to dry-You will always act in your good and perfect will. I praise you that you are the perfect example of love, and for those out there who never had that example in their earthly families, I thank you for showing us a better example. I ask that you forgive these people who've wronged us, for they don't know what they are doing. I thank you for the woman who tried to offer me comfort in the checkout at the grocery store. Even though she knew nothing about the situation, except to hear the tail end of the conversation with the person who wronged me, she suggested that this person probably was only doing what had been modeled to her, that it was a cycle being perpetuated. Lord, I know that there are so many families out there, where a member of the family is perpetuating a negative cycle, such as violence, alcoholism, emotional abuse, etc, and I pray that you open their eyes to their sins, that they would see that what they are doing is wrong, and that they would repent of their sins. Further Lord, I pray that the victims would be given the strength to end the cycle, to make the conscious decision that it stops there and begin a new cycle centered on your love. I pray for forgiveness and healing in these families. Lord, I pray for forgiveness and healing in my family.


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Hypocrites

Thought I might as well go here, since I was just dogging myself for being a hypocrite on my other blog. Because you know, I really hate hypocrites.

I've been faced with them a lot lately, and I'm barely able to control myself over it. For example, I keep hearing all these people I know talk about "poor people" and how they want to help them. Okay fine, great. I totally agree with that. HOWEVER, what drives me insane is that these same people drive their luxury SUVs, live in their million dollar homes, go on their amazing vacations, and then have the nerve to whine about the plight of the poor. I feel so much anger and resentment towards those people. Not so much because I want what they have, although let's be honest here, I'd love it. But because I struggle to give what little I do have, and even though it isn't very much, I hope that it will bless others. It makes me mad when people who have so much more just sit on their butts, saying, "oh we should pray about that."

No, you morons. Instead of buying yet another pair of Manolo Blahiks, why not give it to those same people you're going to pray for?

So since I can't beat them over the head or kill them, I'll just pray for them.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Extreme Love

As some of you know, I'm a big fan of Law and Order: SVU. The one thing about having cable now is that USA has it on almost every day. Several episodes. I could be in total TV heaven if I wanted to be. But I'm digressing.

Anyway, the episode I watched last night gave me an interesting perspective on forgiveness. They were tracking down a serial rapist and running out of time to do so. They finally realized that one of the victims knew who raped her. They did everything they could to get her to tell, but she refused, saying she'd forgiven him and that she didn't feel it was necessary to bring him to justice. She'd prayed with him and she knew he'd never do it again.

I realize it's just a TV show, but it struck me so hard-watching this woman who'd been brutally raped be willing to go to jail to protect the identity of her rapist. Her faith moved me.

I look at the idea of praying for my enemies, and I realize that my faith is not that strong. I don't think I could go to jail to protect a person who'd wronged me. I'll be honest, if I have the opportunity to bring someone who wronged me to justice, I would. Even at the end of the show, when it was revealed what a poor, broken man the rapist was, I was hard-pressed to find enough compassion for him to offer him that forgiveness.

And yet, isn't that the love Christ has asked us to give others?

Not only do I pray for my enemies, but I pray that I would be able to learn to love like Christ-that I would be so filled with His love that I could love like that.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Forgive them, for they know not what they do.

So many things on my heart and mind tonight. One of the things I don't understand is why I am constantly being put in situations where I know I'm going to deal with people who irritate me. Okay, yeah, the whole patience, forgiveness, praying for enemies, okay, fine, I get it.

Anyway, there's this girl at church, who, to put it nicely, is a major roach. The thing is, I have no idea why she is such a roach. I've known her for, um, wow... since before I married my husband. She's never been nice to me. I have always been nice to her. I've had the "have I done something to offend you," conversation with her, and she still treats me like a mutant from the planet zero. The worst part is, we know all the same people, hang in the same circles, and well, it gets old being constantly snubbed and treated like dirt. It's tiring having to pretend that I'm just fine with it. I genuinely care for her as a person, and while I can accept that she and I will never be friends, what is so hard to accept is her constant meanness to me.

I'm not rambling here, so you all can say, oh you poor thing, having to deal with that mean roach all the time. I'm just hoping I can convey my frame of mind in trying to find a way to open my heart to her and pray for her. Which I have done. And I have seen some of those prayers, those asking for her to receive the longings of her heart, being answered positively.

I look at how she treats people, and it fascinates me. Only the people she thinks worthy of her time and attention get it. There's another girl at church, who a lot of folks would probably call a roach, because she is also a fairly nasty person. And I'd like to think that while I do not enjoy her company, I always do my best to treat her with kindness. I have always worked to make sure she is not left out. Maybe because I sometimes think that my roach girl probably thinks that I'm a roach, if that all makes sense. And I'd like to think that even roaches are worthy of compassion. Well, maybe not the real ones. Them, I'd like to squish.

But don't we all do that? Don't we all have people in our lives that we label, "Roach," and treat them accordingly? They're our enemies, and we seek to destroy them and wipe them off the face of the earth. Except like real roaches, they just seem to multiply.

So how do we respond to roaches? In Acts, Stephen asks God to forgive those who are stoning him as he dies. That's the response of Jesus as He, too, dies on the cross. This roach girl, in being mean to me and this other girl, and countless others she encounters, for whatever reason it is, has no idea what she's doing. Does she realize the way her actions and words hurt others? Probably not. And even if she does, the part she doesn't realize is that she's not just being mean to some roach. She's being mean to a part of the body of Christ-a body that she, too, is a part of. Ultimately, she doesn't realize that the person she's harming is herself.

Part of why I'm thinking about roaches (besides the fact that she once again, tried to step on me tonight), is that I just finished a great book by Margaret Daley , who is a dear friend, and just as great of an author. It's called Tidings of Joy and one of the main themes she deals with is bullying. I think sometimes we look at bullies and we think that they're just mean and nasty people. But one of the things I loved about Margaret's book is that one of the bullies who picked on the girl in a wheelchair, was how Margaret showed that this bully didn't know anything different. For her, bullying someone came naturally because she, too, was bullied.

And then, because God is always in my face about the same thing in multiple ways, I watched this cartoon today with the girls. The kids were being bullied by another who kept taking all their candy, but in the end, they realized that the bully was just a sad boy who felt bad that he had no friends and acted out because he didn't know what else to do. When the kids responded to him in kindness and reached out to him, he realized how wrong he'd been, and they ended up sharing all the candy. Simplistic, maybe, but I have to wonder, how many people are roaches simply because they don't feel like they can have anything else?

We can all be roaches-and I would argue that for most of us, we never mean to be roaches. In our minds, we think we're completely justified. The people crucifying Christ, and stoning Stephen, they all thought they were doing the "right" thing. They were wrong. And both Christ and Stephen had the compassion and love of God in them that they were able to ask for forgiveness, even when their attackers didn't realize they needed it.

I don't know. I do know that I never learned Roach Anatomy 101 in any of my classes. And while I struggle every day in trying to pray for my enemies, I know that the only way to ease my burden is to get down on my knees and ask the Father-"Forgive them, for they know not what they do." And I hope, that when I'm the one who's being a roach that whoever I'm being a roach to would have the compassion to ask the same for me.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Justified Hatred?

A friend of mine is being sued by a former landlord, months after the fact, over something rather silly. As we talked about it, she said that she'd been trying to pray the right things, but in truth, what she really prayed for was that the guy would have a heart attack or stroke so that he wouldn't show up to court.

I can relate.

Don't we all have jerks in our lives who really, we can justify the reasons for hating them? People we know we're supposed to love anyway, people we're supposed to show kindness to, even though we want to kick them in the rear end?

Let's be honest-there are times when we'd really like God to just reach out and smite our enemies. Why can't God rain sulfur down on Bin Laden and his buddies? Surely He finds their brand of religious zeal utterly distasteful. Of course, I'd imagine that He finds a lot of other things in this world distasteful as well.

So how do we reconcile this with the command Jesus gave to love our enemies? It would be easy enough to brush it off, if only didn't give it four times.

I still don't know what that means or how to do that. But that's the whole purpose of prayer, isn't it? To keep praying, to let the Holy Spirit work in our hearts, and help us figure out a way to be able to say, "Forgive them Father, they don't know what they're doing."