Loving Your Enemies And Other Weird Behaviour

Monday 7 January 2008

Been thinking about Jesus' command to love our enemies. Such a basic, foundational tenet of life in God. The bringer of heaven to earth. And yes, just a bit difficult, right? :) Understatement of the century when you're rankled with envy, or shrivelling with rejection, or boiling with rage, right? Yep. So hard that it seems undoable. And it is, apart from God. Yet even with God, depending on the wounds and how deep they go, it can be a big journey to even get to the point of being able to consider the possibility.

I had been a believer for about two years when I was 24. I was in the kitchen of my grandmother's house and she said to me that my father had been talking to her about what a horrible father he'd been, and how guilty about that he felt. I'd never heard of him saying anything like that before and my reaction was strange, a mixture of physical sickness and some weird mixed up kind of low-level-hardly-want-to-admit-the-bastard-has-any-effect-on-me thing. Of course, he would have been drunk at the time, but alcohol loosens up lips that are too wounded to open themselves up in normal time, so you have to take what you get. It was a difficult experience for me. My father had deeply wounded me (so deeply that to this day I still can't physically hug him. But again, you take what you can salvage, right?) And I remember that time, the day etched into my memory, just an everyday in my grandmother's kitchen, with the light shining through the window. And I felt a fluttering, a sense, a suspicion, that maybe God was asking me to forgive him. It became a thorn that kept pressing into my side and so eventually I gave up and gave in and goddamn it if it didn't feel like dying. And yet on the other side of that (and I veered from side to side; forgiveness is not a one-off event) I found cleansing. It didn't magically make the relationship amazing, but some of the flotsam that had accumulated around my heart started shifting, some of the anger dispelled.

I've been pondering whether to write anymore about The Romance-That-Never-Was Man (hereinafter called RTNW - I was trying to think of a cool acronym, and all that I could come up with was RATNOW or ROTNOW, and the first is not true and the second I do not wish. So it just stays RTNW). He has been a reader of this blog up until a couple of weeks ago, and I guess he may very well come back here and read again. But tough. This is my blog and my space and my side of the story which I'm sure seems most ridiculous to you - but dammit if I'm not as territorial as a tiger at the moment. If you don't like it, click somewhere else.

I just realised anew before how my family dynamics of keeping silence has affected me. Dysfunctional families always breed silence, and there is nothing contemplative about it. And so in my new incarnation as a person who is less inclined to hold other people up in their stuff at the expense of myself, I am going to talk about him.

In an overdramatisation, it feels in some respects like he has become my enemy. Such sweetness at the beginning of our friendship and such silence and dismissal and, the last time I ever texted him, what felt like outright callous indifference when, after I had admittedly consciously pushed the envelope all week (by having the temerity to want to talk to him), he ended up responding that he wasn't going to text anymore because his fingers hurt and he was wasting his credit. Which made me feel so terribly loved that my hands shook with rage and some switch flicked right there which hardened some part of my heart. And there were reasons for his behaviour and yes I knew what I was getting myself into and blah blah blah, and he was in a bad place and yada yada yada but the end feeling in my heart, at certain times, has effectively made him my enemy. I find myself thinking of awful things to say to him, biting, cutting words to show him how hurt I feel. Words to hurt him and make him feel as dismissed as I feel. Words to wound, words to cut off.

And so then at some point my thoughts lead back to Jesus' directive to forgive my enemies. And so I enter, sometimes unwillingly, sometimes not at all, into that mystery of proceeding to forgive. I don't know if it is more an intellectual experience or an emotional one or both. The element of will feels intellectual, but it's probably nothing of the sort, and is then perhaps followed by the emotional experience. But whatever way, it is a release when it comes and the end result is an outwardness, a putting myself into the moccasins of another, an understanding that the issue is not of blame, a looking anew at the things he is carrying and a consideration of possibilities as to why he behaves as he does; forgiveness can still follow. And then the urge to hurt, to wound, to revenge myself, subsides. As it must.

It feels good. It feels right. It takes the focus off my own stuff and it feels like a release. Cause in some ways he can't help his behaviour.

But in some ways, neither can I. That's where forgiveness comes in. And self-forgiveness too. For ever finding myself in this stupid position

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