“Love your enemies”. That’s a powerful message, and it turns out, one of the greatest challenges in life.
Is there anyone in your life who you hate or just can’t stand? Maybe someone who just irritates you to no end, who you resent and feel bitterness towards? And if so, are you proud of that? Does it make you happy? There is probably at least one person who we could all say “rubs us the wrong way.” Someone who has caused us anger or hatred or at least resentment, for something they’ve done in the past. As much as you’d like to believe that “you are giving the person what they deserve,” the anger, hatred and resentment that lives within us is destructive and counterproductive.
To “Love Your Enemy” is to find it in your heart to put aside any wrongs, and to love them as a fellow human being. You don’t have to love them like you love your parents or children or best friend. Just have loving feelings toward them … and if possible, express it through words, or by doing something nice, or with a smile.
It’s not easy, I know. Picture the person you dislike most, and see if it’s easy to find that love for them. Mother Teresa once said, “The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.”
Why Should I Love My Enemy?
It might sound too corny for many of you, and if so, you might not even be reading this by now. That’s OK. This idea might not be for everyone.
- You’ll be happier. If you have anger or resentment inside of you, even if you don’t think about it all the time, there will be times when it surfaces. And that makes you unhappy. It’s destructive, inwardly (it eats you up) and outwardly (you might do destructive things to others). That anger also affects others around you, such as your loved ones, who are most likely affected in some way when you are angry — even if the anger isn’t directed at them. Removing this anger from yourself is a positive thing, and it will make you happier overall.
- You could change that person’s life. Your enemy is a human being, and it’s very possible that your hatred of that person is a source of grief, tension, or hatred in them. Now, that might feel good to you in a vindictive way, but if you look at it objectively, removing your feelings from the situation … hurting another person is always a bad thing. Making them happier is a good thing. And interestingly, making someone happier, no matter who that is, can make us happier.
- You could make a friend. One of the most powerful effects of learning to love your enemy is that your enemy can become your friend. And while it is counterproductive to be fighting with an enemy (it hinders your progress), it is very productive to add new friends to your life — they can help you accomplish things, for example. A new friend, instead of an enemy, makes an incredible difference. And if that enemy is a family member or former friend, reuniting can be extremely powerful and important.
- You set a better example for others. Our actions set an example for other people in our lives. If you have children, for example, they learn from anything you do. Teaching them to hate is not a positive example. But teaching them to overcome that anger and hate, to make up with an enemy, and to love … there is no better example in life.
- It’s better for society. This one seems obvious to me, but it’s important. One little relationship might not seem to make a difference to society as a whole — who cares if I hate another person? But if we all hate other people, it creates a more divisive and fractured and angry society. I see the effects of this everywhere, from media and culture to politics to business to families being disrupted. And the opposite is true — if we can overcome that hatred, and learn to love our neighbor and our enemy, society is better of in so many ways.
- It’s a test of you as a person. This might not be important to many people, but for me it is. I like to think of myself as a good person, but how good am I if I am just loving to my family and friends? That’s extremely easy (usually). But a better test of your goodness is if you can overcome feelings of hatred or resentment, and turn them into feelings of love. That’s a true challenge. And it’s a life-long challenge.
“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.”
– Martin Luther King Jr.
This article was originally published by kaecollection.com