Loving enemies

“We should pray for him,” my wife said, innocently enough but with the words pushed deep into my soul, and reframed my thinking about the issue at hand.

We’re buying a new house at the moment, and it hasn’t quite been going as smoothly as the last time we did that.

Sadly, the couple we are buying from is in the middle of what seems to be a pretty nasty break-up. No break-up is nice, but it seems that we’re dealing with one party who wants to sell and move on with life, and another who is not.

Consequently, he’s been sluggish in signing documents, and now it seems will effectively have to be evicted for us to complete our pre-settlement inspection of the property. The downside for him is that the sale will go ahead, potentially by a court order.

At some level I understand where he’s at. He doesn’t want to sell the home, and at some level probably doesn’t want to let go of the relationship and move on. Any break-up is tough, and I actually feel sorry for the guy.

But the sale agreement is now signed, and it will happen by hook, or by crook. That makes me a little annoyed that the guy won’t just step aside and let things happen in an orderly manner.

At some level, that makes him my enemy. Not that I  have a lot of enmity towards him, but I do want him to bend to my will.

And so while discussing it on our way to brunch the other day that my wife made that statement.

Of course, she was doing what we, as Christians should do. But at the same time, it felt so jarring to my train of thought.

In his famous chat on the hill, Jesus put it pretty plainly:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:43-45, NIV)

It’s a couple of verses that I must have read a thousand times, but it almost seemed like it was too idealistic. It doesn’t work like that in the real world. And, could I really, in good faith, pray for someone who is against me? And who is my enemy?

I think that’s why my wife’s words really struck home. Here was a situation where I could actually do what Jesus said. And notice the sting in the tail: “…that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”

That makes it pretty important.

So I have been praying for this bloke, and I have found that it has been changing my thinking about the issues. Yes, we still want the purchase to go ahead, but we are trusting that God has that sorted out.

In the meantime, to the guy who is making things difficult, I pray that you would find peace, joy and love from the God who loves you so much. I hope that you have some good support around you at this time, because it is tough. And I pray that you will come out through the experience in a better place.

Amen.

Getting so much better all the time

A few weeks back was R U OK? Day, and today, I can certainly say that I am.

Of course, if you just skip back to August, that wasn’t really the case, which is why I visited my doctor and started treatment for post-natal depression and anxiety.

My doctor put me on a small dose of antidepressants, and after a couple of weeks of headaches, extra tiredness and the like, things started to improve a lot. I felt like my resting mood was heading back up towards normal, that I was able to once again process my emotions, and most importantly I was able to properly express my love to my wife and daughter.

As I’ve shared with some people, I think the combination of a stressful last few weeks of my wife’s pregnancy, the adjustment to being a new dad, dealing with a newborn, and – just for good measure – moving countries, blew out the good chemicals in my brain.

The drugs have helped to bring that back up to normal, and I am feeling good. Really good – in fact probably better than I have felt in a long time.

And it’s not just the drugs. I’ve been more focused on making sure that I get out during the day and getting exercise, which has helped a lot. I’ve also made an effort to be deliberate to meet up with friends. That used to happen more organically, but with a number of my mates also amateur dads, nowadays it just takes a bit more planning.

I’m now able to enjoy the time with my daughter and wife, without the haze of warpy emotions and angst that I was feeling before.

But good mental health doesn’t happen overnight. I’m going to be on these tablets for a few more weeks before possibly talking about stepping down. I may also need some other therapies, but I’ll let my doctor make the call on that.

So thank you to everyone who reached out a couple of months back when I ‘came out’ about my depression. The good news is things are going well, and if anything getting so much better all the time – especially as I can enjoy being an Amateur Dad.

Of course, this post is also a reminder to keep on checking in with themselves and others around, and to get help if things aren’t good. In the same way that you wouldn’t let a broken arm go without treatment, don’t let mental illness go untreated. Trust me, it’s so much better if you do.