“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 5:44
I don't live this law literally enough. I live it in spirit, and I live it for the most part, but the hard parts are where I fail. My struggles with the law of forgiveness get in the way with fully obeying this teaching of Christ's. I'm having a laugh at myself this morning because I follow this principle on a case-by-case basis, which completely misses the point! The arrogant physician, the rude clerk, the homicidal driver all take a piece out of me without me once praying for them or blessing them.
For years, I didn't manage my anger. For some reason, I believed it to be an uncontrollable symptom of adult ADHD. I couldn't help it. That's just how ADHD was, right? Well, it is a defining criteria, but I was completely wrong that it couldn't be managed. When my anger was damaging my relationship with my wife at the time, and my daughters, I had to make a decision. I could keep the excuse and lose my family, or I could change. Although I ended up losing my marriage regardless, over the past ten years I have been mastering my temper. The improvement in my relationship with my daughters has been one of the greatest blessings in my life. The benefits outside of my family life have also been positive. I no longer run around hot under the collar. I learned to compartmentalize the triggers of anger from my emotional responses. I taught myself to control those hot impulses. Still, there is more work to be done.
The other night, the pizza delivery guy picked a fight with me. The circumstances aren't important. It must have been at the end of a long day for him, and he was in a surly mood. I have to admit, though, that I let him get under my skin. I had heated words with him. I even called his employer and complained. However, I didn't once pray for the guy. Afterwards, I wondered why I let him have so much power over my mood. My first instinct was to push back, not be Christ-like. How could I take the next step to become truly unflappable in the face of hostility? Just because somebody's in a bad mood doesn't mean I have to join them.
I rely on my Christian faith to guide me in most circumstances. Christ taught a message of self-mastery. I fully believe now that all impulses, even ADHD ones, can be controlled, or at the very least, minimized. This scripture on loving our enemies, the most basic of Christ's teachings, may have just provided an answer for me. It's funny how we can come across old information and see it in an entirely new way. If I start seeing altercations as opportunities to be more Christ-like, I may find myself stepping up to that next, unflappable level. At the very least, I'll have less quarrels with pizza delivery guys.