Most people I know, when they think about their “enemies,” do not talk about loving them. What if we did though? What if we put our “enemies” on the top of our prayer list and blessed them? Why is it that every faith tradition in the world teaches one to love their “enemies”? Is there even an “enemy?”
Iyanla Vanzant once wrote about being grateful for those who got on your last nerve. I could not agree more. I have learned so much from those I had once considered my “enemies.” Not only did they save me thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours in therapy, they helped me to learn that they were nothing more then a mirror reflecting back to me those wounds, which were still in need of healing. It is because those I do not necessarily like have been such a blessing to me that it is so easy for me to put them on my prayer list along with so many others and bless them.
Another powerful lesson about loving my enemies came from Whoopi Goldberg in the movie Sister Acts. At the end of the movie, she looks at the man who she had allowed to use and abuse her and who had attempted to kill her and very calmly says, “I have two words for you Vince. Bless you!” When we bless others, especially those who we might consider our “enemies,” we open our hearts to send them love and transformation through their own experience of the Infinite.
As we come to see our enemies differently, we may also come to see ourselves differently. We may realize they are nothing more then a mirror in which we observe that which we could otherwise not see about ourselves and are then able to confront some of the lies and illusions we have been telling ourselves. In my own life, I have become aware that it is through my “enemies” that I have been able to evolve in my own spiritual evolution. One of the things I have been able to develop is my mastery of intent and awareness. I have learned to listen to how my mind, body, and soul are feeling in response to what others have said. I have also learned to be aware of what I am feeling, how I am responding and what my intent is in the way I respond to this information, if at all, or how I respond to it, if at all. Am I responding out of love or out of fear?
As I practice embracing this mirror, I have come to realize that there really is not an enemy. What I am interacting with is just another manifestation of the Divine. It is as if the Divine is saying do you see me in this person. In this person? How about in this person? One of the things I have had to do is learn how to release judgment. Not judging is one aspect of being impeccable with one’s word. We may not judge someone verbally; however, all too often we can judge someone in our minds.
As we learn to release judgment, our hearts enlarge and we are able to experience the presence of the Creator in ways we could not other ways imagine. Those things that once got on my nerves now make me laugh. I have come to appreciate the humor of the Divine. All too often, images of God’s humor are lacking. However, the Creators humor is present in so many situations. It is present in those people who are sent into our lives to enable us to grow and evolve. It is present in the sacred writings of so many faith traditions. It is even present in the stories we tell children about creation, such as in “And God Created Squash.”
So God drew a deep breath and held it. “How about plants?” God thought. And then there appeared on the earth plants.
“What shall I call them?” God wondered. “Maybe … wheat and barley and rice and corn.”
God took another breath. “How about . . . yellow apples and plums with purple skins and small grapes to turn into raisins . . . But I’m getting ahead of myself,” thought God.
“And how about something long and green, with little strings along the side? . . . Beans!” God said. “And how about . . . squash?”
“I like that name,” God said. “I think I’ll use it again. Acorn squash. Butternut squash. Even zucchini squash. I might have a game and call it squash. Or put my hand on something and press down hard and call that squash.”
The same God, who can play a name game, is the same one who sends our “enemies” into our lives to assist us in our journey, to help us see the Divine in each other, to have a better clarity about ourselves and our lives. When we love our “enemies,” we really love ourselves.