Friday, March 16, 2012

My secret enemy

Some things I'm better at than others.  Forgiveness is one of those others.  Sometimes (okay, oftentimes) I can't for the life of me figure out how to forgive someone on my own, and I need to get professional help.  Fortunately, I happen to have a friend who's a pro, and so I can turn to her.

There was this person I used to run up against a lot.  Sometimes I didn't know if he even realized what a pain in the neck he was to me, and other times (many other times) I was sure he was doing it on purpose.  My closest confidants all agreed:  he was a jerk.

I couldn't get away from him; personal circumstances kept us coming back into the same circles. I think I could have forgiven him more easily if I thought he wasn't going to be a jerk to me again next week, next month.  If he were far away, I could probably have let by-gones be by-gones, but unfortunately, he wasn't gone.

I also didn't want to try to pretend that he was actually a nice person.  Because the truth is, he was really being a jerk.  Selfish, manipulative, even deceitful.  Mean.

So why on earth would I even want to forgive him?

Partly, there's the whole theology thing.  I believe that God so loved the whole world that he sent his only begotten Son to die for me, and he did that while I was being a total jerk myself.  And so I'm supposed to go and be a jerk no more, not even when other people are nasty to me and I'm feeling entitled to think I'm better than they are.

The other more immediate (= selfish) reason is that it really was eating at me.  I just couldn't not take this personally, couldn't get to the point where I could say, "yes, you're mean and spiteful, but it's not about me."  It was consuming me.  Consuming as in, eating me up from the inside out.

Enter professional assistance, in the form of my friend Amanda.  Amanda put me on a spiritual workout program.  The most helpful thing she had me do was to pray every morning for 30 days straight.  And what I prayed, every single morning of that month, went sort of like this:
Lord, please pour your blessings down on that guy.  Show me how much you love him.  I'm not strong enough to forgive him or love him myself, so I'm giving up, and I'm going to delegate that job to you.  You do it for me.  I'm just going to watch, and see how it's done.
And Amanda told me that I was supposed to watch for any good news that might come that guy's way.  And you know, it felt so good just to off-load the whole forgiveness thing for a month.  To pray for good news for my enemy while still acknowledging that he was my enemy, whether he knew it or not.

Prayer isn't magic, and things didn't suddenly and magically get better.  Still, good things -- very good things -- have come the way of that guy.  He hasn't been mean/nasty spiteful to me lately, although I know that's as much circumstance as anything else.  As I said, forgiveness is not one of the things I'm good at, but I've found some measure of peace over the years.  Thanks, Amanda.

No comments:

Post a Comment