Today I had a discussion with my students about forgiveness and loving your enemy. I asked them if there were people in their lives that they considered to be their enemy. To my surprise, more than half of my class raised their hands. I guess I was surprised because while I realize 12 and 13 year olds certainly dislike some people (this changes on the daily, let me tell you) I didn’t think so many had enemies. There were just as many who felt like they couldn’t forgive their enemies because the sin committed against them was too great.
This made me really sad. What a heavy burden it must be for such a young person to carry around. We discussed things we could do to help ourselves forgive. They suggested praying for their enemies, which I affirmed. I also made another suggestion – to pray for the conversion of their own heart, that maybe God could help them forgive, even when they think there’s no way they can. My students were surprised at this as it was something most of them haven’t thought of before.
Prayer doesn’t change situations, it changes the person. If we pray for God to help us to forgive those who have hurt us the most, we allow love to enter our hearts. And when love enters our hearts, even our greatest enemy can become our friend.