Growing up I had this friend who was in every class with me from kindergarten through high school graduation. Really, I had a frenemy in every class with me – it’s just that the word hadn’t been invented yet. I didn’t have a difficult childhood but there were times she tried to make it one. If she was bored or had no “better” people to hang out with, she was kind to me, but the second anyone cooler than me (and I wasn’t anywhere near the top of her list in that department, by the way) cared to show her attention, she kick me to the curb in a hot minute.
I tried, oh I tried, so hard to get her to like me. Nothing I ever did was good enough, and, for some reason, I still gave her opportunity after opportunity to hurt me. My high school journals are full of this swinging pendulum.
July 29, 2002: “God, I am having so much trouble loving _______ again. Maybe she is insecure about her volleyball ability but every time I make the slightest mistake she treats me as if I’ve committed an atrocious crime and she can’t trust me anymore!”
Somehow in the midst of it all, I wrote out another prayer, “God, I can’t wait for you to change her heart anymore. It hurts too much and I can’t bear it. So change mine instead so this doesn’t destroy me.”
I remember so many nights just sobbing in my room over the injustice of it all. My poor mother – I’m sure many of those times I was overreacting, but she said with me and spoke Truth to me nonetheless. I distinctly remember her encouraging to walk with grace and dignity, confident that the Lord would deal with her in His time. She assured me this would happen, whether I witnessed it or not.
Those words, lots of prayer, and the kindness of God got me through the rest of high school My frenemy didn’t change, but we graduated and went our separate ways and her opinions no longer mattered and she no longer had opportunities to reject and belittle me.
….and now God is dealing with her….
And there is no part of me that takes delight in this fact.
I drove home Friday afternoon for a funeral. My frenemy was there, her face showing the result of sin, brokenness, and devastation. She has endured more pain in the last 10 years that probably anyone in my graduating class, and was delivered another blow this week. The circumstances of her life are such that she can’t cleverly hide her past choices and consequences. She wears her brokenness for all to see. She’s been humbled.
And there was no part of my heart that felt God had finally given me justice. I didn’t look at her and think, “Finally – she got what she deserved.” Instead, the only prayer that left my lips was, “No more, Lord. The one you love is sick. Come heal. Come redeem. No more.”
In that moment I realized God had indeed answered my prayer. Granted, I am now about 15 years removed from the worst of the incident, but many of us are able to hold grudges longer than that. Instead, I realize He has changed my heart. We’re still in the midst of whatever he’s doing in hers, and I am going to pray every day that the resolution is one of abundant life.
But the miracle I want you to hear today is the work He’s done in me. In the last fifteen years, He’s taught me the depths of my own sin. He’s humbled me, softened me, and given me a deeper measure of empathy and compassion. He’s changed my heart and without realizing it, I’ve come to love my enemy. I only want good for someone who once seemed to enjoy inflicting me with pain, and I appeal to Him to have mercy and redeem. Because I know if He can change a heart as cold and embittered as mine, there’s nothing he can’t restore.