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Love Your Enemy

Fear serves a healthy purpose when the clouds become dark and a dangerous storm is approaching, and animosity is a normal reaction to an armed robbery, but these emotions become toxic when they linger past the purpose they were intended to serve. How do we overcome these emotions? Scripture tells us to bring every thought captive, to praise God in all circumstances and to love our enemies, which feels very unnatural when we are in pain. But if we want to gain control over our mind and emotions, we will consider the wisdom behind these commands. Many times, the offenses we ruminate over have to do with petty circumstances such as a friend saying the wrong thing or a mother-in-law overstepping her boundaries. (Be on the lookout for a vlog with Lisa Lou and Cecelia on healthy Mother/Daughter-in-law relationships!) Our quality of life will be a direct reflection of our state of mind. Protective boundaries against harm are imperative but obsessing over offenses does not serve us well. Here is an exercise used by psychologists to help break fixated thought patterns: 1. Go to a place in your mind where you feel calm, peaceful, and loved. Some may see themselves by a stream or in the mountains, and others on a beach watching a sunset. All is well in your safe place and you feel relaxed and at one with yourself. 2. Picture your enemy, or the person that caused an offense in your mind and allow the same feelings of love and beauty you are experiencing to enter them. Stay in this place until you see this person receiving the same good that you are receiving. 3. The next time this person comes to mind or you interact with them, go to that place of refuge and safety and see them through the lens of love. For the believer, we can do the same exercise, but we internalize God’s love in the midst of visiting our place of refuge. His love is greater and more powerful than anything we can provide. When we allow and offer that love to another, even our enemy, it changes our disposition. It breaks the stronghold of allowing our damaged emotions to rule our thought processes. It sets us free as we see the enemy as someone who is also in need of the Father’s love. This exercise does not require our protective boundaries to change, but our minds will shift to willing good into the life of the person we once thought had hurt us. The same applies to praising God in all circumstances. Love overcomes evil. And when we shift our thinking from our pain to a God who sees and knows our circumstances, we can put our faith in a power greater than ourselves to care and act on our behalf. God’s got you! Patti Hatton, MA, LPC

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