Know your enemy - and pray

When a man's ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him (Proverbs 16:7).

Another time and place found me working for several years with a woman who simply loathed me. I never knew exactly why she looked upon me with such disdain, and I can only speculate about what might have been going on with her. My position commanded a small measure of authority in the workplace, and this seemed to produce tension between us, though I treated her with dignity and respect.

When I was sincerely kind to her, she accused me of hypocrisy. When I made decisions about program activities, she often thwarted my authority with accusations that I had acted hatefully toward her. I didn't hate her - not yet, anyway!

The workdays eventually became unbearable with argumentative behaviors, whisperings behind my back and foul language to my face.

I showed up each morning with a violent headache and filled with dread of the hours that stretched out before me. The headaches became disabling, and often I found myself in tears as I reluctantly drove to work. My 30-minute scenic route that once held peaceful moments of transition time with my Creator had been distorted into a daily nightmare.

As the headaches raged on, I found that I was giving up my peace to a growing resentment toward this woman, and I realized that something had to be done. I began to pray for her, asking God to give her everything I had ever wanted for myself. Every morning I prayed, every morning for days, weeks, and months.

Once I opened the door to my heart, God showed me that I felt threatened and intimidated by this person because she somehow felt threatened by me. The enemy here was not my co-worker - it was my reaction to her that dredged up fear and feelings of intimidation.

Godly insights soothed away the headaches and made my morning drives less worrisome and the workdays less fatiguing. Eventually, the woman quit her job. I wish I could say I felt sorry about her departure, but that would be utterly untrue; though long before she left, I had been gifted with a sweet freedom from resentment, fear, and physical pain. Our precious Savior had honored my efforts to please Him through my continuous prayer for my alleged antagonist.

Shall I allow harm to myself by what others say or do, or shall I seek the heart of God in all circumstances?

Dear God, today I choose to walk in your peaceful ways, to open my eyes and my ears to the identification of my enemies, and to seek refuge from stormy people in the shelter of your Holy Spirit wings. May I seek always to please you and you alone.

Adapted from "Finding the Flowers in a Prickly World" by Dianne Finnegan Wilson. You may e-mail Ms. Wilson by visiting www.pensepublishing.com.