Losing an Enemy

Losing an Enemy

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Be The Best You Can Be

Losing an Enemy

If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.

~Romans 12:20

Last year, my brothers were enrolled in Pioneer Clubs, a weekly kids program at our church. Daniel was nine, and Timothy was seven. My sister, my dad and I were all teachers at the same church program. At one point during the year, my brothers began to complain that a boy named John was picking on them.

John, an eleven-year-old foster boy, was in my dad’s class. He was the type of kid who always seemed to be in trouble. Worse, he didn’t consider that it was his behavior that was the problem, but instead decided my dad was picking on him. He often took it out on my brothers by knocking off their hats, calling them names, kicking them and running away. Even I received the occasional rude remark from John. We all thought he was a real pain.

When my mom heard about the problem, she came home from town a few days later with a bag of wrapped butterscotch candies.

“These are for John,” she told Daniel and Timothy.

“For who?”

“For John.” Mom went on to explain how an enemy could be conquered by kindness.

It was hard for any of us to imagine being kind to John; he was so annoying. But the next week the boys went to Pioneer Clubs with butterscotch candies in their pockets — one for themselves and one for John.

As I was heading to my class, I overheard Timothy saying, “Here John, this is for you.” When we got home, I asked Timothy what John’s response had been.

Timothy shrugged. “He just looked surprised, then he said thank you and ate it.”

The next week when John came running over, Tim held on to his hat and braced himself for an attack. But John didn’t touch him. He only asked, “Hey, Tim, do you have any more candy?”

“Yep.” A relieved Timothy reached into his pocket and handed John a candy. After that, John found him every week and asked for a candy, and most times Timothy remembered to bring them — one for himself, and one for John.

Meanwhile, I “conquered my enemy” in another way. One time as I passed John in the hall, I saw a sneer come over his face. He started to open his mouth, but I said, “Hi, John!” and gave him a big smile before he had a chance to speak.

Surprised, he shut his mouth, and I walked on. From then on, whenever I saw him I would greet him with a smile and say, “Hi, John!” before he had a chance to say anything rude. Instead, he started to simply return the greeting.

It’s been a while since John picked on my brothers, and he’s not rude to me anymore, either. Even my dad is impressed with the change in him. He’s a nicer John now than he was a year ago — I guess because someone finally gave him a chance.

He wasn’t the only one to change. My whole family learned what it meant to love an enemy. What’s strange is that in the process, we lost that enemy — he was “conquered” by love.

Love: It never fails.

~Patty Anne Sluys

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