When I heard this after a particularly poor time in my life, I was extremely resentful. As a Christian I had promised to return evil with good yet all my being wanted to lash out and lash back at these people who had hurt me individually and as a group. I knew that they themselves being pagans and bullies would have never tolerated any such abuse themselves. They were cowards and hypocrites and hid in the shadows waiting to lash out and steal from travellers journeying peacefully along in life. I was a a fool and unaware. Innoscent and too trusting. But mostly I'd not prayed and not stayed close to my fellow Christians living a life in Christ but rather wandering off alone in my own pride.
Now having been with animals I wanted to do as animals do. Instead like a prodigal son I returned from the pig sty and begged forgiveness of my father and set about to make amends. That's when I heard Pray for your Enemies. my first thought was that "It would keep the list fresh".
Yet I appreciated this wisdom more and more with time. Resentment is poison we take hoping another person will die. Thinking of my enemies with anger in my heart I couldn't appreciate the good in my life and see the light of God because I was focussing on the darkness of the devil. Further, God is in the present and by thinking of my enemies I was dwelling on my past and losing my future. If I'm not present now I'll not be present when my future comes. My ingratitude in life was my biggest problem. I needed to be more grateful and have more faith.
So I prayed for my enemies and continue to pray for my enemies. There's good in the worst of us and bad in the best of us. It's what makes us human. I am not here to judge either. By praying for my enemies I truthfully avoid thinking of them because the fact is I don't like praying for them. As I pray for them I see their cowardice and fear and realize that all bullies and especially those most ignorant, cruel and insensitive are just the least developped, most paranoid and most immature.
When I met them they were fearful, inadequate, envious and retaliatory. I was naive. I was also likely insensitive because I didn't see the betrayal coming or realize that they lacked the capacity for love, empathy and learning. Working in groups they even tried to avoid responsibility for their nefarious acts. The fact remains, as even Nuremberg taught us in this world, we are all individually accountable and ultimately can't hide in committees or organizations. Instead they hurt me and indeed would have killed me were it not for God's grace.
Praying for them I realize that they too are children of God. Even today as I hear of the failures in their lives I want to gloat but must recognise that in gloating and in gossipping "see I told you so", I'm showing I am still immature and wrapped up in pride.
My journey has been made more difficult by my pride because in truth I wouldn't have recognised gloating as pride years past. I didn't even realize then that my fear and self pity were a product of my lack of faith and not so much a product of my enemies' terrorism.
Each day I realize I have to focus more on my own short comings , seeing them now and changing these behaviours this day rather than dwelling on the past and focussing on the evil of my enemies. In praying for them I make amends for implicitly accusing them wholly of fault and holding a resentment which would maintain I was wholly innoscent. In the subjective objective world of misunderstanding and miscommunication there is a gray zone where I'd like to attribute the fault to others when this marginal area of mystery is as likely to involve my lapses as their. I need to take my fair share of responsibility.
And as to fighting bullies. I need to fight those I meet today or go around them and simply leave a sign pointing at the obstacles in the path. Maybe God's job then is to send in a mine sweeper or to instruct these wayward souls as he no doubt instructs me in this kindergarden of life. It's not my job to judge but rather to forgive, accept, let go, pray and move on.
Thank you Jesus for your example and your presence.