“I wish I could punch that woman in the face… how dare you call my daddy a liar.”
Words like those are very humbling coming out of the mouth or your 8-year-old, especially, when you have those same thoughts. While I may not have threatened to punch the offending party in the face, I sure had a few choice words regarding her…. and my kids heard me.
Not only did they hear me, they mimicked me. I don’t know about you, but seeing your own behavior in your children is like a slap in the face, and very humbling. I couldn’t get on to her because I was just as guilty…and God let me know it.
I had to apologize to my children and tell them I was wrong. I showed them Matthew 5:44 where it says that we should: “… Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;”
Honestly, this is very hard for me. Some of my earliest memories are getting mad at people and holding grudges against them for things they did to my little brother. Not that I treated him well, mind you, but no one else could touch him. For instance, once when we were toddlers (I have a very good memory) my Dad was speaking at a church and Philip and I were in a class together; I won a big piece of gum for coloring my page, but my brother didn’t win anything although I thought his picture was better than mine. This infuriated me, and I tried to run down the hall to find my parents. (I didn’t say I was a rational child.)
Then there was the time that I took on a boy twice my size because he threw the ball at my brother, hit him in the head, made him cry, and proceeded to call him a baby. Only I could call my brother names! I can take people being mean to me, I just don’t listen. I rarely hold a grudge against someone for long when they have wronged me, but my family is a different story. I wish I could say I’ve matured and gotten better, however, the truth is that I’m probably worse now that I’m married and have children.
A friend shared this thought with me the other day: Other people’s enemies are not our enemies. God only give us the grace to forgive people who have offended us, but not others. When we take up offenses for others, we don’t have the extra grace from God to forgive them. Only the people who have the right to be offended receive the grace to forgive.
So, what do we do when people have wronged us or the ones we love? Pray for them.
My kids have a little prayer board in their bedroom that holds all kinds of prayer requests people have asked prayer for. We pray down the list every night, and so many of these prayers have been answered and marked off it. We also added the people we didn’t like to their wall, and they are still on this list. These people still aren’t nice and still say things they shouldn’t. Honestly, it is a daily struggle and the temptation is real to skip over their names, but we still pray for them.
In Luke 6:27-28 the bible also says to even go a step further and to bless them: “But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.”
Ouch! I’m sure God is on to something because everyone deserves kindness. Maybe the reason they are so hateful is that no one has ever been kind to them. Often, if you are kind to someone they become nicer. God has continuously shown me this year how important it is to notice people and the importance of being kind like Jesus was, but goodness it’s hard. I was God’s enemy though and He had grace on me. Not only did He show me grace, He also continues to bless me every day. If I don’t show grace to others after I’ve been forgiven so much, how can I look my father in the face? I can’t.
So, I’m going to keep praying and working my way up to blessing these people. One day I’d like us to bake them a plate of cookies and smile at them (instead of looking at them like Darth Vadar) while we hand them the plate. Maybe … one day. Until then, we are going to keep praying for them every night and I’m going to work on making sure that I don’t make someone else’s enemy mine as well.
Do you have a spiteful person in your life? How do you handle it? Do you find it harder to forgive those who have hurt you or someone who has hurt a loved one? Do you have any tips on how to show kindness to those who don’t deserve it?