That was today’s sermon at church. I have to tell you, church is new to me. I’ve always known “God” has been there somewhere, but I did not realize, until about 14 months ago when this journey I began started– the journey to finding myself, my strength, my spirit. It started with music, and slowly this entity who had never “really” been a part of my life began seeping in bit by bit, song by song, lyric by lyric. I heard these words and they began to make sense and in that sense I found strength and in that strength, I found the realization that God has influenced, changed, and controlled my life in every way since the day I was born.
If I was to write my life’s story, it would be no easy read. But I think back to the abuses I endured as a young child… to the poor decisions involving heroine addicts as a teenager…. to the continued allowance of abuse in my life when I said “I do”, and I realize that God had to pretty much use a jack hammer to drill the lessons I needed to learn into my thick head.
It took 36 years— I’ve got the next 36 years to figure out what to do with myself now.
So… I’ve made many mistakes and met many less than awesome “neighbors”. Love them? Well – yes. I can. I can forgive, but that is not to say I want to invite them back into my life, either. I can forgive because my heart craves it. It craves peace. It craves to provide a love that I’ve never had for myself unto others. Every life’s lesson I’ve had in my life — all of them — have empowered me, as poor and difficult as they were to experience when I went through them.
The next point of the sermon I heard today was, that although you should love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you (Matthew 5:43-48), you should also mark them and avoid them. (Romans 16:17-18)
I realize I’m taking a little bit of a stretch at this interpretation since the verses I refer to specifically address those who try to take you away from God, but truthfully, it applies to anyone who willfully does you harm – those who use you, persecute you, curse you… your enemies. Love them, pray for them, but stay away from them.
Even if you’re not spiritual (notice, I said SPIRITUAL… not religious) – those are powerful words, and they are in the Bible. Those words tell you what to do for yourself. They tell you to be strong enough not to live in hatred… not to seek revenge against those who had wronged you, but to forgive and love them so your heart can be filled with light, not darkness. But those words also tell you to stay away from them in the future — and that advice right there is worth cracking open the Bible alone.
So simple, so powerful, and so true.
So, love thy neighbor. Be strong within yourself. Stay away from those who have wronged you. Let your light shine.