How to Love Your Enemies?

ot all enemies carry arrows.


All my life I had liked to think it was only David who had his enemies.

Is it easier to say we don’t have any enemies — so we don’t have to figure out how to really love them?

And how to forgive enemies from the heart?

But who hasn’t been cheated on, talked down, lied about, pierced right through and left heart-broken on some beaten-down back road?

There are a thousand ways to bleed, to nurse wounds and bitterness, and no one knows.

I have twisted limbs on my family tree, but no one burnt the fig tree down.

Just this one little girl burned with shameful memories, dirtiness right under her skin, and how to get clean? I remember asking my mama why some relatives are called grands.

How many years have I have stood in sanctuaries and murmured that one line of the Apostles Creed? “I believe in the forgiveness of sins.” Have I really believed?

Do all the creed-keepers believe only in the forgiveness of their sins alone?

Or do they, the Christ-bearers, really believe in the forgiveness of sins and sinners?

In a culture of wholesale forgiveness?

Weren’t we once the enemies? Aren’t our enemies our kin?

Don’t we have to let them into grace?

My dad loved another woman and another woman belittled my mama while she slept in her bedroom and scrubbed mama’s memories out of her own house and I’ve done my own spiteful share of burning. I’m the fig branch that should have been hacked off.

I have bowed and said it aloud for decades.“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Who lives this?

If we only got into the Christ-faith through the door of forgiveness, how can we claim Christ as our home if we aren’t people who forgive?

Words and ideology on a page are cheap. Grace and incarnating the love of Christ isn’t.

I do want there to be another way —another way, where they pay their debt of pain. I forget that I haven’t had to pay, me bought with the blood of God.

If forgiveness isn’t central to our faith, is our faith really Christian?

A stranger drove over my sister and he drove home to his family. The grief of her gravestone drove us mad.

My little brother and I used to imagine finding that man. Does “love your enemies” have any loop holes? How far can forgiveness go?

I have known this though: An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth leaves us all starving and groping in the dark.

In the evenings, in the dark setting in, I sit and knit a bit.

There are lilacs on the table, a bouquet spraying over the vase, over the edge. A twisted old limb that somehow bore grace, somehow blossomed.

And I move them, these two wooden needles, these two pieces of wood pointed, sharpened at the ends.


I knit and pray my own wandering version through of an old prayer for old pain:

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.
Enemies have driven me into your embrace more than friends have.
Enemies have loosed me from earth more than friends have…
Enemies have made me a hunted animal, finding safer shelter than an unhunted animal does.

I found safest sanctuary in You…may too my enemies-made-grace.
I found greatest grace in You… may my enemies-made-grace find Your generous grace alive and radical in me.
I found fullest forgiveness in You… may my enemies-made-grace find faith and freedom in You and Your forgiveness working surprising ways in me.

The longer I walk with you, Lord, I find I have no enemies: only your gift of chisels etching me deep.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.


In the shadows, there is this — the murmured prayers and the needles with pointed edges touching each other, theses needles looking like arrows.

Looking like they’re looking for loop holes out of love…

But then the needles do the unexpected —

this slipping of delicate prayers around each other slow and an act of the will, this knitting and uniting.

These strings all knotting now  close…




originally @ (in)courage


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