Even if you don’t want to, pray for those who treat you badly

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High school is never an easy time for anyone.

I remember a 13-year-old girl walking through the mostly empty halls of my high school and looking up the stairs at a petite blonde running with a popular crowd. She looked at me down the stairs with a sneer on her face.

“Stop looking at me, or I’ll get you!” she hissed.

I felt the heat of this threat rise in my cheeks and burn in my stomach. What did I do with her to get her to tell me? I thought. I was somehow ashamed. I went back to class a little shocked, feeling awful.

That night as I talked to God about my day, I still felt the remnants of this bitter encounter reflected in me. Somewhere, maybe an angel on my shoulder or a memory from a discussion in a youth group, a thought came to me. Wherever it came from, the message was clear: pray for this girl.

I remember it was not easy for me. It hurt to some extent – but no one should have known. It was between God and me. I prayed for her, still imagining her aggressive posture and feeling the meanness burning in my stomach.

SPIRITUAL LIFE - Heather Rouen.jpg
Heather Rouen

The next day our teachers chased us to get our missing or late assignments. Soon they had to pass the report card. I fell behind – of all things – in the art class.

At risk of getting a C-minus because I haven’t finished my art projects, the teacher said I could ask someone to help me. I asked all my friends, but they were all too busy trying to complete their own projects.

So the art teacher urged the class, “Can anyone help Heather finish her clay project?”

From the back of the room, where a group of girls were sitting together, a little blonde quickly jumped up, threatening me the day before and saying, “I’ll help her!”

I quietly sank down. I could almost hear from behind a tender laugh, like the voice of God saying, “See?”

The same girl approached me and listened as I explained what I needed to complete my project on time. Thanks to her, I was able to take an art lesson with honors.

I don’t know if at that time in my life I ever pondered the words of Christ in Matthew 5: 43-47 “… And now I say unto you, Love your enemies, and pray for them which persecute you, that ye may be sons. Your Father who is in heaven … Why should God reward you if you love only those people who love you? … And if you only talk to your friends, have you done something unusual? ”

This is a lesson that has stayed with me for a lifetime.

Even in those moments when I don’t want to, God’s patience awaits me when I come to that place of compassion for another person so I can pray.

It is that grace through prayer that brings me one small step closer to peace.

Heather Rouen is a member of Christ the King Church in Richland. For questions and comments, contact Editor Lucy Luginbeel at Herald, 4253 W. 24th Avenue, Kennewick, WA 99338. Or email lluginbill@tricityherald.com.

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