The knife went in, only a bit deeper this time. Some congregation members had spread gossip about my husband and I, ruining our reputation not only in our community, but with our leadership team as well. People who we thought were friends became our enemies. I felt like I was walking to the guillotine to be executed the day I walked in to a meeting to confront our accusers.
Why do people in the ministry get treated this way? I thought to myself. Insults were hurled; accusations were made; feelings were hurt. After a hostile meeting, we, along with the accusers parted ways, but not amicably. A myriad of emotions stung my psyche. Hurt. Betrayal. Anger.
They were supposed to be our friends. How could they do this to us?
As time went on, a new set of emotions emerged. Bitterness. Resentment. Rage. I was hesitant to forgive and reluctant to trust anyone again. As I reflected on my feelings, God reminded me of this verse in Luke 6:27-28:
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
My friends have become my enemies, but that doesn’t mean they have to stay that way.
After reading that verse, I knew I had the best weapon of all—the gift of blessing. Satan was trying to steal our joy, but I wasn’t going to let him get away with it. As God always does, He allows us to take part in the redemptive work He is doing in the lives of His children, thwarting Satan’s plans to seek vengeance. That meant instead of seeking retaliation, I could seek to bless those who curse me.
Easier said than done.
I presented myself a challenge. For one week, I would pray a prayer of blessing over my enemies, in the hopes that it would not only change my perspective on the situation, but also my heart. Only God could want me to offer this to Him, because I resisted it with every fiber of my being.
Reluctantly, I sat in my chair and spoke this prayer aloud:
“Lord, please bless ________. I know he/she is my enemy right now, but please bring your healing to the situation. Turn our turmoil into peace, our sorrow into joy, and our despair into hope.”
On Monday, the words were like eating sour lemons—downright unpleasant. By Wednesday, they came a bit more naturally. By Friday, they tasted sweet like honey, rewarding not only them but me too.
Praying a prayer of blessing over my enemies is a tall order. When I think about the situation, it still brings up feelings of anger and betrayal. Yet Jesus afforded me that gift with His death on the cross. If He can bless His enemies, than so can I. It’s far from easy, but definitely worth it because blessing someone who hates me makes me love them even more. Every time I do it, something within me changes. My character becomes more like Jesus. The words become less bitter and a little sweeter. My thoughts are a little less angry and a little more peaceful.
I hope one morning when I utter those words, I won’t have to think twice about them. I hope they will roll off my tongue with ease. I’m not quite there yet, but I’m getting there. Like Proverbs 16:24 says,
“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”
My soul is feeling pretty sweet right now.
Michelle S. Lazurek is an award-winning author, speaker, pastor’s wife and mother. She has been published over one hundred times in places such as Charisma Magazine, crosswalk.com and Christianity Today’s website Gifted For Leadership. She also teaches writers’ workshops for various places such as the Montrose Christian Writers conference. She is a member of the Christian Author’s Network and Advanced Writers’ and speakers Association. Her newest book, An Invitation to the Table explores the biblical concept of hospitality. For more info, please visit her website at www.michellelazurek.com