reframing our enemies

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship...For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”  St Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 12

A friend recently said that her ability to sense her own insecurity and faults, to confess them in other words, allows her to reframe her enemies in her heart, to even feel compassion for them, realizing that her enemies often are living out of insecurity as well.  This act of reframing is only possible by being reframed ourselves, exposed for who we are, especially exposed before God’s mercy.  In other words, God’s mercy allows us to be honest with ourselves.  And when this happens, we can do something quite extraordinary, we can be honest about the fact that others who irritate and annoy us are doing so out of their own insecurities. Empathy is born out of the pangs of our own confession. When our own faults and failures are considered and convicted and forgiven, it becomes much harder to be condemning toward others, even those who are hardest to embrace. The mercy of God reframes our faults as forgiven, and frees us to be merciful toward others’ faults.  What’s more, not only is empathy for our enemies born through this reframing, but often enough, enemies become friends, and we discover that we’re all one and the same, failures in need of mercy, in need of each other’s mercy.  God has reframed us in His Son, becoming our Friend, so we can be free to reframe our own enemies, sympathizing with their faults and failures.  By the mercies of God, reframe your enemies, even as God has reframed you.

Andrew Stravitz