Thursday, April 13, 2017
Lent 2017 - Praying for our Enemies
Above, I snapped a quick picture of all our palms before mass began. Below, Brailey formed them into crosses for us. So precious!
Sunday palms mean lent is almost over. Every year, our Lenten journey is different. Last year, we wrote traits we wished to be rid of on little black rocks every day and put them in a bowl. We later buried all those rocks in the ground. I have given up chocolate in prior years - my family has banned me from ever doing this again. It turns out chocolate really is a mood enhancing chemical. This year, for some reason, I felt compelled to pray for my enemies. And so we did this as a family - we prayed for our enemies every single day, and we are praying for them twice during Holy Week. And let me share this with you - if you have never done this, it is hard. And it doesn't get easier, day-by-day. At least for me. It turns out I have a lot of enemies.
But I also have plenty of my own enemies, that is for sure. I have known this since I was a little kid. My experiences as a child definitely shaped me into who I am, and for some reason, once someone does me wrong (at least wrong as I perceive it), or I just don't agree with their behavior, I want nothing to do with them. Ever. I need to work on this, I know. I have no idea why I feel things so deeply. I do think part of it is a protective measure for my own sense of survival. I have a very strong personality, and it is offensive to many, many people, and in disliking them, perhaps I am merely protecting myself from their dislike of me. Fear creates walls, and I definitely have walls.
But when it comes right down to it, I absolutely can't stand mean people. I can't stand rude people. I can't stand people who break my trust. And once someone has broken my trust, it is very difficult for me to overcome. I believe there are seriously toxic people in this world, and I avoid them at all costs. I completely avoid them, ironically, to the point of rudeness. I don't like rude behavior, but I admit I can be very rude.
So while I was ready to pray for my enemies for lent, I wasn't prepared to have them paraded into my life throughout the Lenten season. Nonetheless, there they were. One by one, I was reminded of my personal enemies, of people I need to pray for. My list grew from a few to quite a few. One person, whom I haven't seen in years, I saw three days in a row (from a distance) at the beginning of lent. Similar situations happened nearly every day. I truly believe God wanted and wants me to pray for these people. And so I did. In fact, I had so many signs come to me highlighting this character defect of mine, it was loud and clear that God wants me to pray for people I perceive to be my enemy. It is very hard for me to want good things to happen to people I despise. To say lent was not easy this year is an understatement.
I like to think of lent as a season of change, a time to work on our bigger personal issues. I don't feel changed as I write this during Holy Week. Maybe it will come, I don't know. I am always a work in progress, as many of us are. The older I get, the more I try to live and let live. I work hard to just keep my mouth shut. Not easy to do. I suppose the road of praying for my enemies leads to forgiveness, which is what I really need to do in order to let it all go - forgive my enemies. Maybe I'll get there someday. In the meantime, I am going to keep listening to God.
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