This is what the Bible has to say about loving one’s enemy:
17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:14-21
The Lord is very clear in his Word about how He expects us to respond to those who would try to harm us, whether intentionally or unintentionally. As someone who is – by the strength of the Holy Spirit – trying to conform my life to the Word of God, I do not see this passage as an area of exception. I know that this instruction is one that I must follow, and thus, want to follow.
A few months ago, I was uninvited to an event, at which my presence had previously been expected. There were two guests of honor; and one of them did not want me there. End of story. I got crossed off the list.
When the friend who wanted me there broke the news, I actually cried a little. I felt hurt, humiliated, bitter, angry…lots of negative. Truth be told, I did not feel very close to the other guest of honor, but being there for my other friend was important enough to me to be able to put that aside for a day.
I very much wanted to complain about this to anyone who would listen. I did not keep this slight all to myself, but I was delicate in my discussion of it. Tried to be, anyway. However, I’m also trying to do a better job of following the Bible’s commands about gossip.
In the months leading up to the event, I grew more and more angry, all the while knowing that the right thing to do would be to forgive and move on. This would be especially difficult, given the fact that we all have very similar social circles.
In spite of my anger and hurt, I did not want to address the situation until after the fact, because I didn’t want to spoil the happy mood of the event. A few weeks following the event, I decided that enough time had passed, and our paths had crossed enough times. It was now time to make my feelings known and somehow clear the air.
So, I contacted the person who had revoked my invitation. I told them how I felt, and that I didn’t think it was necessarily fair to exclude me. As a guest of honor, it is that person’s prerogative to invite or un-invite whomever; but it didn’t seem that the decision was well-grounded this time.
This person responded to me in a way that might not have been intended as condescending, but it definitely came across in that way.
“Angry” doesn’t even begin to describe what I felt. “Hatred.” That’s a more accurate, if not entirely biblical, word to use here. My current job can be done without a great deal of thought. This is a blessing and a curse. It’s great when I need to
obsess over process something that has happened. I can just do my work and stew over my emotions. It’s awful, well, for the very same reason: too much time to think.
The day I got the response, while at work, I (inwardly) yelled out to God about how much I hate this person. I know that God can handle my emotions and my honesty. Between my mental yells, I was repenting and begging Him to help me not react so strongly.
Here would be a good moment to note that this episode was one of the catalysts that caused me to learn more about HSP.
I still knew that I had to forgive. I also knew that the time would come when we would be in the same setting, and that I’d have to be cordial, kind, and friendly. Just the thought made my eyes start to fill with tears. This seemed like an impossibility!!
Learning more about Highly Sensitive Personality has helped me feel less horrified by the intensity of my reactions in uncomfortable or harmful situations.
The problem is that this awareness does not actually diminish the intensity.
Though I’ve started to really heal from the hurt of that situation, something remains:
There will always be something that hurts me or makes me feel uncomfortable.
And my body will produce tears, which will roll down my face.
Whether I like it or not.
(For the record, I don’t like it.)
Just yesterday evening, I was thinking of a change of scenery that I may need to make. While there will be some positives associated with this change, there are still some unsettling, upsetting aspects.
Again, with the involuntary, unnecessary tears at the mere thought of putting myself in that situation, which would actually be quite innocuous…
Guess what, people? The shaky voice and tears streaming down your face do not do much in the way of winning friends and influencing people. Actually, that’s only halfway accurate: people are influenced – to stay away from you!
In moments where I feel uncomfortable, angry, lonely, unwanted (whether rationally or irrationally), the slightest “hello, how are you?” from a well-meaning person will bring on the tears. This has happened many a time.
Trust and believe: these tears are not a plea for attention, nor sympathy. I now understand better that they are borne out of having a nervous system that’s cranked up a few notches higher, even on a normal day.
So, back to the original issue: how can I love my enemy, when standing there with tears running down my face? I guess the answer is just that:
Love my enemy while the tears are running down my face.
This is a terrifying prospect. Absolutely terrifying, particular for a person whose sun rises and sets according to what others think of her. And people who are crying for no apparent reason don’t get held in very high esteem, it seems.
But back to God’s Word:
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:13-16
He made me this way, though I cannot imagine why. Therefore, He also knows that I can somehow honor and obey him, even with this unusual chemistry that He has built into me.
Will it be tough? Yes.
Will it be embarrassing? Definitely!!
But “His power is made perfect in my weakness.”