WE JUST celebrated Ash Wednesday. Lent is upon us, which is the perfect time for introspection. We put ash on our forehead to remind us of our mortality and to help us remember that our lives must be focused on Christ so we can be with Him in eternity. The priest asked us to ponder on these words of Pope Benedict XVI: “Each year, Lent . . . stimulates us to rediscover the mercy of God so that we, in turn, become more merciful towards our brothers and sisters.”
Love your enemies and pray for the people who hurt you. These are steadfast and unwavering biblical principles. I admit, it has been a struggle to teach and live out these concepts with my children. Something unpleasant happened to us that involved the revelation of the true colors of people we hold dear. Life as we know it is just not the same anymore.
The overwhelming feeling when someone does us wrong is to take revenge.
How very easy it is to fight back! Sometimes, reason is thrown out the window and we are compelled to just react and retaliate, especially when people are literally throwing stuff and invectives at us. If we don’t fight for our own rights who else will?
But, we have to pick our battles. We don’t have to attend every fight we are invited to. Most of all, there is an unseen force that we (my family) believe in. God never sleeps and He sees everything. In the end, He will cast the final judgment. I told my kids, “Sometimes, people will never show remorse because pride is intoxicating. You’re just going to learn to accept an apology you’re never going to get.”
If we do not heal what cuts us, we are going to keep on bleeding on people who didn’t hurt us. And that’s terrible! A bitter heart is one that cannot love fiercely. A person filled with resentment is one that cannot be at peace nor be genuinely happy. Forgiveness is one of the best lessons I have ever learned. It’s not for the people who harmed or hurt us. We do it for ourselves. We do it for our sanity and peace of mind to keep us from being in bondage and enslaved by the hurt. We cannot let hateful acts hinder us from striving for a life of peace, joy, and love.
How can we love someone who causes us so much pain and misery? Sometimes, it feels even grotesquely wrong to smile at them. Love is not only a feeling and an emotion but also a decision. It involves free will, carried out by actions and intentions. We cannot program our hearts to like everyone. In fact we are entitled to ignore and distance ourselves from people who do us wrong. It is also natural to like our friends and dislike those whose values are dissimilar from ours.
However, Jesus commands us to love our enemies. This means I may dislike someone for having betrayed me but I can choose to show love to that person by controlling my anger and never stooping in order to not lose the respect. Another manifestation of that love is choosing to pray for those who have hurt us. I have long realized that I can never move on and be genuinely happy unless I learn to let go and forgive.
In fact, I am grateful to everything and everyone who made me experience suffering, pain, anger, failure because they brought me to my core. I use the negativity as the fuel to push myself harder to be a better person in spite of my imperfections. And since, I believe everything happens because of God’s will, I also realize that every person I meet has a purpose in my life. The mean people have taught me to be strong and brave. They show me to appreciate the genuine people. And they continue to teach me that only He can give me the ultimate approval!
I know I sin and have faults, but God still loves me unconditionally. I cannot hate my enemy because they reveal the real me. Love your enemy even if they don't deserve it in order to have peace of mind and heart. We cannot let hate, anger, and resentment fester in our hearts because these ill feelings are such big burdens to always carry. Love is simply easier. And as it is written in 1 Corinthians 13:8, “Love never fails.”