This post may be a little surprising because of the post just recently about my dad. They may seem almost opposite in attitude, but the truth is that the last post about my dad was the one that is a little out of the ordinary. This one reflects the truth that I feel most often.
I received an email from a friend who shared a passage from Luke about loving our enemies. This was offered in reference to coping with radical Muslims, but for me it relates to dealing with someone who in many ways is my worst enemy - my father.
Here is the passage:
20 ¶ And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.
22 Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.
23 Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.
24 But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.
25 Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.
26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.
27 ¶ But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
29 And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also.
30 Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.
31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.
33 And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.
34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
Proverbs 25:21 ¶ If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink:
Proverbs 25:22 For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee.
Matthew 5:43 ¶ Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
Matthew 5:44 But I say unto you, 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;
Matthew 5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
Acts 7:60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
Romans 12:17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
Romans 12:18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
Romans 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
Romans 12:20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
Romans 12:21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
1 Thessalonians 5:15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.
And here is my response to my friend:
More thoughts on this: These words always cut to the heart. I need to hear these words. I am dealing with the issue of loving my enemies.
It is hard to truly love, as is described here.
My father has never repented to God of his abuse towards my mother or me, or his abuse and indifference towards his children, nor has he ever made amends. He is almost in his grave. He has spent 15 years of agonizing affliction, following a horrible stroke that has paralyzed him. In all this time he hasn't asked God what he has done wrong, examined his heart. It is evident because you can tell that there is something separating him from God. He doesn't have peace. Day in and day out he complains and yells. He watches TV from the time he gets up to when he goes to bed, to drown out any voice that might speak to him.
I don't enjoy his company. His spirit is not at rest. I want to hate him for disappointing me.
I want to hate him for never even setting right what was not right in my childhood, the things that hurt so deeply.
I want to hate him for not reaching out and loving us as a father and a husband should.
But God gives me the grace, being my true father, to be the one to reach out first, with mercy towards someone who doesn't deserve it.
Yet, reading the passages that you have sent me reminds me time and time again that I still don't measure up to God's high standard of love.
My dad is like my greatest enemy, and the question is: do I love my enemy? Because Jesus asks us to love our enemies. He asks a lot!
Thanks for sending those, so I can ask myself again if I measure up to God's standard.
I realize that I will never love anyone in this world well enough until I learn to love my dad, who is in many ways my great nemesis.