Some of the most amazing miracles that have occurred in my life when I have actively chosen to ignore my first instinct and love my enemy. The most specific example I have, was a fellow student named Jennifer. She used to just drive me insane!! She was loud and abrasive and unpleasant…and I just didn’t like her. I didn’t want to be in the same room as her much less sit next to her. I didn’t have a concrete reason, but there it was. One day, for no apparent reason, I decided that I would sit next to her everyday until I liked her. I know, right…totally insane and what difference would it make? We come across people all the time that we don’t like or that don’t like us for one reason or another.

So, why was it so important that I like this girl, who I am pretty sure didn’t like me either? I wish I had a profound answer, like a divine voice or something inspirationally motivating to credit this too. It was clearly a God driven encounter/decision, but it was also my stubborn tenacity…I don’t like gray areas. Why didn’t I like her? She was in all my classes, the stress of our friction was annoying me to no end. The reality is we can’t change other people, or their perceptions of us. Or can we? When we begin to change ourselves and our own normal reactions to things, people can change. But the change must start with us.

So, back to the miracle of Jennifer…I sat next to her everyday, in all of our mutual classes everyday, week after week. I talked to her, asked her questions, first about school then about life. Her initial reaction, as mine would have been, was suspicion and wariness, but gradually there was a shifting in our relationship from adversary to acquaintance, then to almost friends. It was truly miraculous, and it would have been enough if that was the only fruit that came of this choice. But there was more.

On impulse, I invited Jennifer to come to a women’s retreat with me. She was excited to go…I was shocked, she wasn’t a Christian but she was totally jazzed to come with me. And at that very retreat, I saw her heart and brokenness and I saw her give her life to Jesus! Because of my conscious choice to follow Jesus, I got to witness the miracle of salvation for my enemy, my friend, my sister, and for myself. When we bless others, we ourselves enjoy the harvest of joy of the Father.

Where we choose to subscribe to division and mutual disrespect the enemy rejoices because we are inviting him to participate and propagate in brokenness and contribute to diseased relationships. When we CHOOSE to feed our dislike of our enemies, God cannot intervene. We have shoved Him in a box, held back by our free will. We have freely chosen to fracture relationships, to hold on to hurts, to not release God’s love, not only to ourselves, but to those around us.

Choose today to lose, to release love, to release God’s merciful love in your life. Hate is a malignant cancerous thing that spreads so easily from the first to the last. We so submit to negativity and resentment willingly – why is it so difficult to believe that the real truth is that we are loved. Why do we accept the bad but not His love? Is there not more true freedom in love? Hate isolates us from relationships with Christ and people, but love connects us, frees us, heals us and forgives us. Choose to love, to let go, to forgive. Trust in the forgiving nature that is God. He is the mighty restorer, we have to make the choice, and He will restore all!

Isaiah 61:10 I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels