“If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?”
This question was asked by Jesus during the Sermon on the Mount, when he was teaching those following him, including his apostles, the higher laws of the kingdom.
This book (What Did Jesus Ask?) goes through many questions Jesus asked and they are still important for today – for you and I. This particular question was answered by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.
His answer to the question was to discuss the second part of what Jesus was asking, which was about loving our enemies. Justin points out that the word “enemy” provokes a strong emotion and, that if we are living any kind of worthwhile life, we will no doubt have enemies – those who might gain from our failure.
I am taking time to thoughtfully consider these questions in my own life. As I attampted to find answers, I asked myself even more questions.
- Is there anyone in my life I would consider my enemy?
- How do I get over it?
I have had two particular people who have felt like enemies. They may not have profited from my failure, but they most certainly did not “have my back.”
These were important people. People whose love I was in desperate need of and wanted just as much. I have had pain and anger in my heart since my teenage years over these two people. Pretty serious stuff. It’s affected every single relationship I’ve been in since.
I’ve had moments of clarity over the years. Moments. I’ve been able to see that these people had problems of their own – problems that got in their way of giving me what I needed. It’s not like what I needed was frivolous – just love and acceptance. It’s all I needed.
For me, the long-term answer is to remember this – they had their own problems. In this case, they had both lost children. It affected how they loved everyone around them.
I further realized that my answer is to simply have compassion. They walked a difficult road, one I will never understand. In my compassion, I can let go of my hurt and anger and see their pain and how it changed their hearts.
How can loving them in their pain help me? It relieves me of the burden of carrying the “why” any longer. It eases my feelings of lack and helps me to see beyond myself. It allows me to practice being more Christlike, my ultimate goal.
Justin’s words are wise. He says, “…take Jesus at his word and find a liberation and freedom in committing [yourself] to love [your] enemies.”
I will commit today, right now, that when my feelings of loss and anger surface, which I know they will, that I will meet them head-on with compassion. I hope it changes my heart over time and frees me too.