“It is harder to go to an enemy than to a friend, but we find it much more beneficial to us. We go to him in a helpful and forgiving spirit, confessing our former ill feeling and expressing our regret.” Big Book, Step 8
To be like Jesus we are supposed to love those whom it is difficult for us to love. Jesus tells us to love our enemies. He says that we have already received our reward when we love our friends, that even non-disciples love their friends.When Jesus first made this statement over 2,000 years ago, I wonder if He wasn’t trying to say something similar to the Big Book quote above? I think today we have the tendency to ‘spiritualize’ a lot of what Jesus said, but often His advice was very practical. What if, when Jesus said to love our enemies, he wasn’t only talking about some sort of ‘spiritual reward’, but rather that loving enemies is much more beneficial to us than loving friends? He knew that when we love a friend (or go to a friend to make amends) it is relatively easy. Things which are worthwhile are rarely easy, and Jesus would have known that to go to a friend in such a way would have been only moderately rewarding at best. But to go to an enemy and make amends, that brings great reward!
About eight months ago I experienced this firsthand. I had worked for a guy from church who had offered me a job as charity. I hated taking his charity, but I had a family to support so I swallowed my pride and took the job. It only lasted a few months because he soon sold his company and let me go, and I left his employment angry and bitter. Several months later, as I crept toward 1 year of sobriety, I realized what an ass I had been: That man gave me a job when no-one else would and put food on my family’s table, and I had the gall to resent him. Though it was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, I picked up the phone one day and dialed his number. I was praying for voicemail; God had other plans. My former boss answered the phone, and with hat in hand I humbly apologized to him for the way things ended and I confessed my resentment to him. He was so gracious about my apology that I felt ashamed for ever having harbored ill will against him. When I hung up the phone I felt 10 lbs. lighter. I felt forgiven and redeemed. It was beautiful.