I’ve shared with you before, my theme for this year is LOVE and relationships, so you can expect many of my Monday Motivations this year to be on these topics. Today I want to talk about loving our enemies.
WAIT! Don’t stop reading. I know it may not sound all exciting or inspiring just yet, but keep reading.
I’m sure you will agree with me, it’s easy to be kind to people who are kind to us. Someone smiles, without thinking you smile back. Someone pays you a compliment, a sense of reciprocity springs up in you and you feel compelled to express your appreciation for that person. Easy breezy.
On the other hand, what happens when someone is rude to you? Someone criticizes you, belittles you, humiliates you, or is even hateful…do you really feel like being kind and considerate to that person? Do you even want to respond with respect?
Not if you are human.
You will probably feel like retaliating in some way or getting as far away from that person as possible, after a dirty look, snide comment or threat to prevent further mistreatment. That is what any typical person would do in response, or reactivity rather.
Ironically, for those of us who were raised in a religion or in a church, we were taught some variation of, “Love Your Enemies.”
Here’s one of many examples, “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44
It’s no novel concept, but rarely do we see it demonstrated. Take a minute now and try to think back to the last time you exhibited your ability to “love your enemies.”
Now, I am not talking about peace offerings, you being nice to someone who is rude in hopes of converting them and getting them to treat you better. I am talking about genuine compassion, showing unconditional respect, unconditional kindness, and unconditional love to someone who is undeserving, no strings attached. You are kind just because that is who you are and that is in your character.
For some reading this, it won’t make sense. It may even sound ludicrous. Why be kind to someone who is rude? I don’t have the most researched or eloquent answer, but my motivation behind why I do believe it is the answer is because it works. It heals. It connects. Love always wins. Being rude or unkind back never works, never creates reconciliation, never brings resolve. It only creates greater division and even makes you feel crappy.
So, if my explanation works for ya, or if you were already on board with this “Love Your Enemies” stuff, the next place for us to look is to check our reality, “Where am I, in my ability to “Love My Enemies”?
“In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice they are not.” Albert Einstein
Some of us may get it in theory, but our practice does not line up. We believe we should “Love Our Enemies” but in the heat of the moment, when we are treated unkindly, we react unkindly.
I know where I am. I get it in theory. In practice I’m just beginning. I have a long way to go, but I have decided and I have committed to develop my ability to Love My Enemies. It will take a lifetime, I’m sure, but I know it is the answer and it is worth the effort. Because of my commitment, I have developed a fondness and an appreciation for my enemies. He/she/they give me opportunity to practice and to develop my character. And every time I fall short, I am grateful that I am aware that I have fallen short. I pick myself up and get back at it again. I remember that my enemies actually are helping me, giving me practice, making me better and stronger.
So, how about you? Where are you at with all of this, “Love Your Enemies” stuff? Do you agree, disagree? Do you get it in theory and practice? I’d love to hear what works for you to live out loving your enemies. I could use a few tips. I’m sure we all could.
In closing, here’s something to consider. The people who are most rude, impatient, and unkind are usually the people who are hurting the worst, who could use a little love. That is what I have been trying to remember- don’t take it personally when someone acts out in an unkind manner. They are just hurting.
Have a great week!
With LOVE and Volition,