Praying for My Enemies

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Praying for My Enemies

Often it’s the deepest pain which empowers you to grow into your highest self. – Karen Salmansohn

Sometimes the first step to forgiveness is realizing the other person is batshit crazy. – unknown

I practice forgiveness all the time. It’s one of the keys. It’s one of the nonnegotiables. I find it easy to forgive the person who cuts me off in traffic, the co-worker who’s short-tempered, the friend who steps on my toes, or the family member who’s in a bad mood. Whether they apologize or not, I can say a little prayer letting go of whatever transgression I feel they’ve made and asking that their day makes a turn for the better.

Occasionally, that person comes along, who for whatever reason, crosses a line. The transgression pushes boundaries or buttons and finding forgiveness becomes more of a chore, more of a struggle. I say the same little prayer, but my ego, for whatever reasons, chooses to grip the slight firmly. I find myself hours, days, and even weeks later ruminating on the wrong that was done.

For me, the deepest heartaches throughout my life have been at the hands of those I trusted, loved, and respected the most. It was the close friends, the significant others, the ones I believed were my comrades-in-arms, who ultimately cut me to the quick. Isn’t it always the case? We can only be broken by those we care about most deeply.

Over the years, I’ve wrestled mightily to move on after a betrayal, but I am the queen of second and third and ninety-eighth chances. I’m the eternal optimist who believes that even the person who is robbing everyone blind, who is lying and cheating, who is excessively nasty and ultimately broken will by some miracle drop their ego, find their humanity, and do the right thing.

Yep, I’m a sucker for a transformation. Sometimes, they happen. More often than not the object of my misled hope just continues to crap all over me. In my old age, I’ve gotten better at keeping these people out of my life. I keep my eyes wide open and try my best to move away when I spot them. Sometimes I still get duped. I’m human.

Marianne Williamson suggests we should pray for the happiness of our enemies. She says that if we pray for someone who has betrayed us or deeply hurt us one of two things will happen. Either they will change or we will no longer care. She says that as long as we stay in bitterness, we are blocking future goodness from happening in our lives.

I get this. It’s the age old adage garbage in garbage out. If I’m sitting around focused on people who’ve done me wrong, it’s going to be really hard for me to see and receive all the goodness life has to offer. If I spend my time wallowing in self-pity and blaming others, I’m missing all the love and abundance and happiness that surrounds me.

So, as I contemplated her words I had to acknowledge that their were people in my life (just a couple) whose behavior was causing me to harbor ill feelings. I had to admit that while I appeared to have moved on, occasionally circumstance would cause the hurt and heartbreak to rush back as if no time had passed at all.

I decided I would pray for my enemies.

Marianne Williamson says that for five minutes a day for thirty days we should pray for their happiness and wish them well. Easy? Yeah, not so much. It took me a solid week of prayer to stop venting about the situation. It took even longer for adjectives like “piece of sh@#” and “obese” and “manipulative” and “ho” to stop showing up in my prayers when referencing my transgressors.  Even though I was still harboring hurt, I kept going, and before the five minutes was up, I made sure I wished them happiness.

It was somewhere around day ten that I had my ah-ha moment. Up to this point, I was just praying for basic happiness. The run of the mill kind of happiness one feels when receiving a bit of good news or having a pleasant interaction. I was praying for baseline happiness. What I realized is that I didn’t want these people to have that kind of happiness. I realized that I wanted them to experience real happiness.

I wanted them to be granted the kind of happiness that would cause them to wake up in the morning with a song in their hearts and a smile on their face. I wanted them to move through each and every day in love and totally at peace with everyone and everything in their lives. I prayed that God would blow open their hearts and minds doing whatever necessary to fill them with loving kindness and give them the ability to express this not only to themselves but to others as well. I wanted them to have so much happiness that it would ooze from their very pores.

In my humble opinion, for these individuals, this type of happiness is probably a long shot. I do believe in miracles, so while my ego doubts (cheeky monkey) I’ve continued to pray and remain optimistic that it could happen. I send them love and peace and I pray that God does whatever is necessary and I do mean whatever to grant them real molecular level happiness.

Is my heart healed? Not yet. I’ll clearly have to push past the thirty days. As I move forward I’m finding that Marianne was right about one thing and that is I care a lot less. My little prayers may not transform them, but my little prayers sure are transforming me.

Thank you for reading, commenting, and sharing my essays. I continue to feel beyond blessed by everyone who shows up. 


  1. You have just given me my Lenten challenge. Forty days of praying for my enemies. Perhaps with Easter a new heart will arise in me. Thank you for this post.

  2. For me, too, the deepest heartaches of my life have been caused by the people I held dearest. I have been able to let go and move on in every case but one, and that’s because he keeps coming back and twisting the knife. I’m going to try the five minutes a day for thirty days plan. It may not help him but it might just save me.

  3. You just keep getting better and better! Always love reading what you are up to. xoxo

  4. Denise, this post made me happy on a “molecular level.” Forgiveness has been the transforming gift in my life. Exceptionally well written thoughts! Happy Valentine’s Day, sweet friend.

  5. I love your insights and your journey in coming to your decisions. One thing that’s helped me immensely is from The Four Agreements: Don’t take things personally. Once I truly grasped that concept I see how anything anyone does is their crap, not mine. It’s helped me with toxic in laws, especially. (Yikes.) I forgive and wish them well, but then I choose not to spend (waste?) time around such people. It frees up my mind and soul for better experiences.

    • I heard the saying “people aren’t against you, they’re for themselves” years ago and it shifted things for me. When you realize that people are just doing what they think they need to do, it makes things easier. I still struggle to understand when being “for yourself” includes breaking legal or moral laws or blaming others for your shortcomings.

      You are right, time and space make all the difference in the world.

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