Julie loved being my friend because I would always trade my school lunch for her packed lunch. You see, her mom refused to allow her to buy the school lunch, but I was more than happy to make the trade off. To this day, Mrs. O’Connell’s tuna salad sandwich is the best I’ve ever tasted. For the first three weeks of second grade, Julie O’Connell was my very best friend.
But then it all went down hill. One day after swimming lessons, Lori Matthews came up to me as I was changing out of my bathing suit. She told me that Julie had told the entire second grade that I was smelly. Smelly?! That’s the worst thing you can possibly be in the second grade.
At first I didn’t believe it, but Lori’s story was so convincing that I finally began to accept it. Julie O’Connell became my very first nemesis. The next three weeks were spent avoiding each other, sticking our tongues out at each other, and rolling our eyes when we knew the other one was looking. Until one day, Julie came up to me at recess with tears in her eyes and said, “Jael, why would you tell everyone that I am smelly? I thought you were my friend.”
After a brief conversation, we finally figured out what happened. Lori Matthews had pitted us against each other, for reasons I still don’t understand today. Julie and I realized that there was no reason to fight with each other. We were not enemies.
We live in a world in which we are constantly pitted against each other. And we view our neighbors as our enemies if they worship differently, love differently, or even vote differently. I fall into this trap all the time. My prayer is that whenever I feel the urge to dislike or even hate someone because I think I have them all figured out, I remember that they are not the real enemy.
The real enemy has already been defeated.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12, ESV).
Jael Amador writes from New York.
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