“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.
Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven…” (Luke 6:35-37.)
Jesus commanded His followers to love and forgive everyone. I’m pretty easy to get along with and have a healthy respect for others’ life journeys. I prided myself in not having enemies to pray for or forgive.
One day, I was totally blindsided by a really good friend’s reaction to my social media post. To me, the post was about love and inclusion. However, she took offense to the post. She commented her disdain. During the time I took to thoughtfully comment back, her entire family unfriended and blocked me. She proceeded to comment that she couldn’t believe I would post such a thing, they were all offended and would never speak to me again.
In a matter of a few minutes, I’d gone from believing I added light to the world to being told by someone I loved and cared for that not only was my post offensive, I was offensive to her entire family and was instantly dead to them despite my removing the post and apologizing for the offense.
I was stunned and hurt. There was suddenly nothing I could do. Their doors slammed shut.
I languished in a weird place between righteous indignation and despair at losing a cherished relationship over such an insignificant thing. It broke my heart to realize that after years of friendship they had chosen to be my enemies.
I blamed myself for the rift in our relationship and constantly berated myself internally. I felt absolute turmoil and replayed the scenario over and over and over in my mind.
One day during my scripture study, I read the Savior’s plea:
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29.)
My soul hadn’t felt rest in quite some time since I’d picked up the burden, guilt, and resentment of that event and kept it close to my heart.
I knelt down and poured out my soul to God. I explained the situation, my intentions, their reaction, my reaction. I told Him I had carried that burden for so long. I prayed for my enemies, their peace, and their well-being. I asked if I could cast the burden at Jesus’s feet. I knew I could.
I felt like I had to do one more step — forgive them. I needed to forgive them for the hurt and confusion I felt, for abandoning me when I meant no ill, for betraying my trust as a friend. I hadn’t actually realized I’d felt all of those things. But as those thoughts came to mind and I said the words, I felt a huge rush of emotion.
And I felt that burden lifted and relief filled my mind. I couldn’t believe it! I had carried the pain and frustration for so long that I had forgotten what peace in my soul felt like. But as I poured out my soul with a repentant and forgiving heart, Jesus restored peace to my mind and heart.
Over time I still mourned the loss of the friendship, but I didn’t agonize in constant mental anguish anymore.
Jesus promised His followers peace in this life and in the world to come. Forgiving and praying for my enemies restored His peace to my life and gave me hope that they could find peace as well.