As Christians, we know that forgiveness and love are incredibly important. Yet it’s often far from easy. Here are five ways to move closer to something difficult, yet transformative: loving our enemies.
1. Acknowledge Your Enemies
We can’t heal our relationships if we don’t first admit there’s a problem, which is how any confession needs to start. It helps to reflect and be honest about whether we view people negatively, as enemies. To pray for them, we need to first know them.
2. Know Love
As Christian explains on “The Trench,” responding to enemies with love is not a human reaction; it is a completely divine reaction and an opportunity for salvation. We can forgive because all things are possible in Christ, who defeated death and gave us life.
3. Reframe the Situation
Once we’ve identified our enemies, we may be surprised that our response is making a difficult situation worse. Negativity can build in our hearts over time, and cause us to focus on someone’s faults. It can help to be mindful of our sins first, and try to view our enemies in a more sympathetic light.
4. Do Something Nice
Loving our enemies is easier said than done. Yet, just like fasting can affect our spiritual state, there are things we can do to soften our hearts. Doing something nice for someone, even when we don’t want to, can help bring forgiveness and healing.
5. Take Your Time
Hearts don’t always change overnight. Even if you try to apply this advice today, you’ll face challenges and difficulties. Remember to be patient: King David sent a man to his death, St. Mary of Egypt spent years enslaved to her lust, St. Paul persecuted the Church before he joined it. Each of the saints stumbled on the way to holiness, and we’re no different. All we can do is trust in God’s salvific work, and do our best.
This month, take a small step towards loving an enemy, or towards forgiving someone who you feel has wronged you.