I was once in a situation where a friend of mine was so jaded towards me that they couldn’t hear any of my words in the way I intended them. Our friendship was getting worse and worse and both of our hearts were hardening toward one another.
During this time, I had a dream that I felt God had given me. In it, I saw a bunch of ants crawling around my bathroom. I stomped on them in attempts to get rid of them, but that caused them them to multiply, making things worse. And every time I stepped on those new ants, they multiplied too. Eventually, my entire bathroom was taken over with the insects. At that point, a surreal voice spoke into the dream: “Increase your faith.”
“Stop moving in the name of Jesus!” I immediately called out. In that moment, almost all of the ants stopped. They then began to morph into a small weed that was growing out of a crack in the tile of my bathroom floor.
When I woke up I didn’t see any interpretation, but the voice had been so surreal that I knew I needed to write the dream down. I shared it with my wife later and she very clearly interpreted it to me: “A lot of little things like ants are overwhelming, but a weed—though still a pain—is much less of a pain.”
I realized then that I wanted to take things into my own hands in my toxic situation and simply smash some ants—but now I saw that this would only create more problems. However, if I increased my faith and put it in Jesus’s hands and took care of the situation His way, it would be much easier to handle.
And so I tried to continually turn this situation over to God. I eventually realized there was little I could do but pray for my friend—not just for their sake, but for mine as well. Regardless as to if they would continue to get angrier at me, I would try to lift them up. “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them,” said Paul (Romans 12:14).
I took walks around my block praying the hardest blessings I could pray. Some of the words struggled to come out of my mouth, but the more I said them, the clearer my mind became. I asked God to bless my friend in ways that, to be honest, I didn’t want them to be blessed. I prayed that they would go down in history and that the whole world would know their name for the work that they would do. So began a season where I had to constantly return to a place of enemy-love and difficult prayer. I would have preferred that my friend soften their heart and apologize for a few things, but Jesus never promised me that and expected me to love on my end, regardless. So instead, I aimed to live by the Bible’s instruction: “so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18).
I handled that situation far from perfectly, but the only thing that helped me put on the mind of Christ in that time was praying these very difficult prayers. As I spoke the words I found hard to say, I felt peace and empathy return to me. In the end all I could do was hand it over to God.
Today we often hear the stories of how the church has loved those who have loved them, but to that scenario Jesus essentially said, “So what?” Or to use his actual words: “If you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (Matthew 5:46). Jesus calls us to go above and beyond that and love our enemies.