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.


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