It’s been a good week for both of us, him and me, to think through the idea of what it means to be hated … and how to move forward with/from that. I’m hopeful that most people don’t experience the same kind of open hostility we do. But I am also aware that there are a significant number of people who experience it on a much greater scale than we do.
The causes of hostility this week have been varied, but of course, from the same sources. In some kind of freak occurrence it has happened from both directions at once – was it something in the change of season? I know I’ve had a few fairly explosive sneezes, maybe people respond to a change in the weather in different ways. Moments before I hit the publish button for the last post, it began. So, a tip for you all, don’t post it if you aren’t ready to prove it.
One of the things that we’re learning, him and me, is that our happiness and our choices seem to cause great distress to those who thought they had defeated us. Maybe they hoped they had destroyed us, possibly even thought they had, they certainly thought they had trained us in such a way that we would comply with each and every wish and whim they expressed. I believe that they thought that they had the best of both worlds – the new dream life, and the convenience of ordering the remnants of old life around.
We’ve noticed that an enemy can be almost friendly; as long as you don’t confront lies, as long as you bow your will to theirs and as long as you don’t question or disobey demands. We’ve also started to plumb the depths that some will sink to when they aren’t getting what they want.
I’d like to think we could be considered righteous in our dealings – I know it’s definitely not true of the attitudes of my heart when provoked and it’s certainly not true of the words that spew from my mouth when the two of us get hit with this stuff. But in our responses and our discussion that we have openly I’d like to hope that there is very little that could be considered wrong about what we do and say.
The onslaught of the past few days has left me repeating the same few thoughts over and over; no one teaches you how to deal with people who hate you for doing the right thing, no one teaches you how to cope with abuse, name-calling, or statements that make you question your value, your character, your motives or even your beliefs.
Last night, at the height of one of our hour long “how do we ..?” conversations I overlooked the best example we have of “how do we …”
Instead of turning to the One who has the answers, I let my mind run wild .. it teemed with questions.
How do we reason with the unreasonable?
How do we respond to those who use language like moron, psychotic, idiot, tool and girly tantrum in communication with us?
How do we maintain our grip on truth?
How do we communicate with grace and truth?
How does one like one’s enemies? I felt that type of language removed the personal approach I knew I needed to take. I then stretched it to the biblical instruction.
How can/does one love an enemy?
How do you love them without compromising truth?
How do we walk humbly?
How do we demonstrate grace, mercy? When my spirit wants to fight?
How do we as lovers of justice not lose heart when we see injustice in our tiny little world? Why does this injustice worry me more than the massive injustice that is evident in the world?
How do I remember that it is God alone who has the right to bring justice to bear upon those who act unjustly?
How do I resist the urge to tell Him that He’d better get a move on because I’m getting a bit sick of this stuff?
How do I remember that Jesus himself, is right now sitting down waiting until his enemies “are the footstool of his feet”?
Well let me tell you, the answers I came up with for most of those questions weren’t pretty… They were very much “old” Anne answers. The final scene of the many scenarios that I allowed to play out in my mind’s eye, would look an awful lot like compulsory attendance of an anger management course. There is still too much fire in this blood for me to honestly consider that I’m righteous, holy or pure.
But at the end of it all, we need to remember that we have an example of what we should do.
We should speak the truth.
And when we do, we shouldn’t be surprised that people set themselves up as our enemies with the mission of tearing us down.
We shouldn’t be surprised that when the words of truth fall on the ears or eyes of truth haters they become abusive and combative.
But some times we are. The reason that this is surprising is that we have this belief that our lives should be easier than the life of the man of sorrows, the One who was hated without a cause, the One we follow. Despite the fact that His word quite clearly contradicts this.
We claim the proverb “when a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him” as a promise. I’m not sure it is one of those statements that you can claim as a promise. I’ve heard it said that Proverbs should be viewed more as wise ways to behave and wise ways to think than a check list. Maybe the purpose of Proverbs is to create good habits for me that will result in my heart being in a better place. It might not result in the behaviour of others being modified as a result, but it should result in goodness for me.
So I guess we keep on reading Proverbs for that reason – and we keep on praying that these things come to pass, all the while remembering that this is not a “tick the box and then you’ll earn the reward” scenario.
God has never dealt with us like this. He has never given us what we deserve.
He has, instead, given us Himself.
And that’s what I need to keep remembering, people who set themselves up as being opposed to truth, justice, mercy, generosity and grace aren’t fighting a winning battle. More importantly they aren’t setting themselves up as enemies of flawed and faulty Anne, they are fighting, in the end, against the One to whom truth, justice, grace and mercy belong. The One who loves them through it all.
So how do you love your enemies?
Well the answer is embarrassingly simple, you look to Jesus and let Him do the work. You make more of an effort to be more like Him … and maybe, eventually, you might even win some of them over. After all we were His enemies at one time too.
So for now what do I need to do?
Well, I believe that there’s this blog I really should read … something about Yielding?