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Tue, Oct. 22

The power of forgiveness

Through God we shall do valiantly: for it is He that shall tread down our enemies. Psalm 60:12

Valiantly fighting back tears, I hobbled from one eighth-grade class to the next. The searing pain to my badly sprained ankle was compounded by the embarrassment of public lameness and late arrivals to every single class. By the end of the school day, when I was certain I could not go on, I heard a cutting remark: "Oh, that Dianne Finnegan, she's such a fake."

I didn't go to school the next day, or the next. The public humiliation was more than I could bear. I hated the owner of those mocking tones because I failed to realize that she was not the enemy and that the true enemy came from my own sense of fear and pride.

Forty years later, I embarked on a heart-healing journey and discovered the far-reaching power of forgiveness. When I asked God to show me who I still needed to forgive, that eighth-grade girl's name - hidden from conscious thought for decades - immediately popped up, as did others from my remote past. I prayed, wrote, and spoke forgiveness over each memory and toward each individual.

Then God, ever true to His Word, trod down my real enemies. At last my spirit was free from the vestiges of bitterness, and I learned the value of knowing the enemy.

Here's an example that brings a smile to my lips: While brandishing her hairbrush, 7-year-old Emily stomped and growled through the house, shouting, "Ooh, my hair is my worst enemy!" She refused to let anyone help her untangle the mess she had made by trying to brush her own long, wet, chlorine-damaged tresses.

Who was the enemy at large, the hair or the frustrated unwillingness to ask for help? When we threatened that she wouldn't be able to get to school if she missed her ride - and Emily loves school more than anything - the screaming child allowed someone bigger than she to untangle her hair and show her how to prevent it from getting the best of her in the future.

Knowing the enemy is half the battle. Knowing the One who can, and will, tread down our enemies is the war.

On what occasions have I labeled my enemies with mistaken identity?

Lord, today I turn to you for help in fighting my enemies.

Your name is Jehovah-Nissi (The Lord Our Victorious Banner).

In your name, we have victory.

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

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