The Enemy Within

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“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”  Matthew 5:44
We all know we are to pray for our enemies, but have you ever thought the enemy you should be praying for is you?
I’m reading a fascinating book titled “Boundaries for Your Soul” by Alison Cook and Kimberly Miller.   It focus’s on the battle we fight from within ourselves.  Our anxieties and overwhelming thoughts which have the power to paralyze us.  Immobilizing us from living our lives to the fullest, which is what Jesus wants for us. (John 10:10)
I started reading the book because of it’s subtitle; “How to Turn Your Overwhelming Thoughts and Feelings into Your Greatest Allies”.  Who doesn’t want that?  My thoughts can drive me crazy.  Controlling them can be nothing short of miraculous sometimes.  I was actually battling separation anxiety.  I was looking for solutions.
I’ve found so many insights already and I’m only half way through.  The biggest of which is learning to love the parts of me which are not my favorite.  For instance my anxiety.  The book helps you identify what is causing the unwanted emotion and learn to befriend it.  It makes me think of this quote from Abraham Lincoln:
“The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend.”
It really is a revolutionizing thought if we apply it to the parts of ourselves we’re least fond.  I’m aware my separation anxiety began when my father died when I was a teenager.  I learned early what it is to lose someone who plays such a pivotal role in your life.  As a result, I spent much of my 20’s pushing people away because I didn’t want to go through pain like it again.
Inevitably I learned, no matter how hard I try, I can’t live without people.  We are designed to live in community.  We are designed to love each other.  We are designed to suffer loss.  It’s all a part of life.
How do I befriend my anxiety?  By praying for it.  By learning to accept, no matter what I do it is always going to be a part of me.  By understanding it does serve a purpose.  It isn’t the enemy.  It’s my mind helping me to cope with loss.
As I’ve grown older and encountered more loss, the anxiety has stayed with me.  In February, when I lost a dear friend far too soon it reared it’s ugly head once again.  I have befriended it though.  It has helped me understand the meaning of this verse:
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”  Romans 12:18
None of us know how many days God will give us.  We don’t know how many days we’ll have with the people we love.  My anxiety helps me remember those two truths. It has helped me realize it is important to live at peace with everyone to the best of my ability, because I don’t know how long I will get to love them.
I love this quote I read on Facebook the other day.  Not sure where it originated, but it went something like this:
“Love the people God gives you well for you don’t know when He’ll need them back.”
My anxiety helps me live in the moment.  It reminds me all I have is here and now.  It gets me up at 5:00 in the morning to make lunch for my husband when he has a long day at work.  It makes me hug my brothers when I see them.  It helps me tell people I love them easier.  It makes me write the note, send the text, make the call.
My anxiety helps me love better in the here and now.  I have learned to accept it will always be a part of my life.  I am beginning to appreciate how it adds to my life.  How it gives me the 20 seconds of courage I need sometimes to show someone I care.  To open up my arms and hug.  To lift the corners of my mouth and smile.  To live.
I started praying for my enemy.  It turned out the enemy was me.

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