This fall our pastor is doing a message series on love. I’ve been enjoying the series because hey…love matters (smile). He has talked about loving relationships, loving ourselves, loving others, and this Sunday he will be talking about loving our enemies. We talked about that in staff this Tuesday (I work for my church). Since our meeting, I’ve been thinking about enemies. Do I have any? Well at times my body feels like my enemy. With headaches, unexplained fevers, chronic fatigue, and joint pain…there are days where I feel like I’m in a battle with myself. But what about other people? I wanted to find out exactly what the definition of enemy is so I looked it up…not that I didn’t already know what enemy meant…I just like to look up words to see the exact definition to make sure I completely understand what the word means. This is what Webster had to say:
: someone who hates another : someone who attacks or tries to harm another
: something that harms or threatens someone or something
: a group of people (such as a nation) against whom another group is fighting a war
Pretty much what I thought. I can’t specifically remember any, but I’m sure when I was younger there were people I would consider my enemy. I know that there were people who considered me their enemy. Growing up our neighborhood was divided by railroad tracks. I lived on one side, but had friends who lived on the other side so I would hang out with them over there. I dated a guy “from the other side of the tracks” and apparently the girls who lived there didn’t appreciate me “coming into their territory”. His ex-girlfriend let me know that when she sucker punched me coming out of a store one day. It got to the point where I would have to call my mom to come pick me up because there would be a gang of girls on the corner waiting for me and I couldn’t walk home. Crazy! But I really don’t ever remember hating someone…disliking yes, but hating is such a strong word to me.
I did a search on enemy and found this:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
I came across another blog the other day and I think it’s one of the reasons this enemy thing has been stuck in my head. It was written by a Christian mother whose son was gay. She and her husband told their son that they loved him, but there was always a “but” attached to their statement. “We love you, but what you are doing is a sin.” “We love you, but our church doesn’t agree with your lifestyle – it’s embarrassing.”…the same message…just different ways of saying it. Their son committed suicide. He never felt truly loved by his parents. The parents realized that how they handled their son was wrong and she is trying to make it right by writing a blog. This poor mother gets hate mail from other gay people who tell her that she killed her son. I can’t even begin to imagine the horror of receiving those letters/comments. She also gets negative posts from conservative Christians because she is speaking out about how she and her husband have changed their thoughts about their son’s homosexuality. This really makes me so sad. Especially since it could have been my story. My son was suicidal and the fact that this family is getting “persecuted” from both sides of the fence is just heart breaking.
I found it very interesting that the statement above “Love your enemies…no exceptions” is written on a yield sign (well sort of – that was the first thought I had when I saw it so I went with it). So, you guessed it…I looked up the word yield and this is what Webster had to say about it:
: to produce or provide (something, such as a plant or crop)
: to produce (something) as a result of time, effort, or work
: to produce (a profit, an amount of money, etc.)
So maybe this love thing takes time, effort, and work. Just maybe putting forth that effort will produce understanding. Stop arguing…stop trying to prove you are right when maybe you don’t know all the circumstances. Another definition of yield is to surrender or submit to another. I think it’s time we surrender all this hate and learn to have empathy for one another. It’s ok to not agree, but it’s not ok to hate.
Just some late night thoughts…love your enemies…because love matters.
PS: In case you know me personally and are now afraid to drive with me, I want to reassure you that I know what a yield sign looks like (smile). I was really tired when I did this post and yield sign is what popped into my head…it wasn’t until I was finished the post that it dawned on me that it wasn’t. Sheesh! Something else you should know about me…when I’m tired my brain squishes words together. I will be searching for the right word and my brain will take two words and put them together. For instance, it will take snippet and tidbit and it becomes snidbit. Hopefully none of those will sneak in here, but consider this fair warning (smile).