It is almost universally agreed that one of the greatest and most challenging ethical commands is this: to love your enemies. Many people dismiss this command because they find it impractical, difficult, or downright impossible to follow. One way to apply this law is by learning how to turn an enemy into a friend. Here are seven practical tips:
1. Sincerely apologize
Have you ever heard an apology that went something like this: “I am sorry if I offended you”, or “I am sorry but…”. This type of apology will not work if you want to make an enemy your friend. You must apologize sincerely for your part of the dispute, even if you feel like you are not at fault. You must take full responsibility for it. You must say “I am sorry.”
2. Forgive the person
Let them know that you forgive them for hurting you. Forgive them truly in your heart. They may remain hostile for a while. But, if you persevere and maintain an attitude of forgiveness toward them, they will eventually respond to your desire for reconciliation and peace.
3. Focus on their good qualities
This might be hard to believe but it is possible to find good qualities in almost anyone. When we have quarrels and disputes with people, it is very easy to fixate on the negative aspects of the person that are causing you to react. This prevents us from seeing what’s good about them. Do you best to step outside of this framework and you will be able to see their good qualities again. Make this your focus. Offer them sincere praise for the qualities you see.
4. Speak well of them resist the urge to gossip
This is a crucial step. Gossiping about others, especially about our enemies, come so easily to us that it takes a superhuman effort to resist. In order to make this person your friend you must. When speaking about your enemy to others, speak well of them. What you say about others behind their backs will eventually get to them. When you respect them in this way, they will want to return the favor.
5. Discover what you share in common
Whether it be a love for a sport or a similar hobby, exploiting shared interests is a great way to connect with your would-be friend. Get them to talk about themselves and their interests. Invite them to a game. Try to get them to engage in a hobby with you.
6. Offer help if they are clearly in some need
This is also an important step. Again, we often ignore the ways our enemies struggle. By opening your eyes and seeing life from their point of view, you will discover opportunities to meet some need they might have. For instance, someone may have just lost a close family friend. Taking the time out to express sympathy or to send a card can go a long way to making a friend out of an enemy.
7. Love the person
Yes, we have come to the hardest step. We think it’s impossible to love our enemies because we misunderstand the nature of love. It is not a thing that flow effortlessly, without requiring pain and sacrifice. This kind of love is shallow and fleeting. If it does not grow into something deeper, it is not true love. True love is a conscious decision and often requires focus and effort. Decide in your heart to love the person you now consider your enemy. Decide daily to treat them with compassion.
Loving your enemy creates the possibility of friendship. Love is life-giving, even in harsh soil. Plant your seeds of love today and watch them grow into something beautiful.
Featured photo credit: Bergadder via pixabay.com