I started a whole new list…

The Second List

Someone told me years ago that you cannot be in ministry and not get your feeling hurt or endure a few woundings along the way. At first I didn’t quite buy or believe that. But I’ve been in ministry long enough now and I’ve lived enough days that I can attest to it.

But, quite frankly, we all get a little hurt from time to time. As we grow up (especially us girls) we have disagreements with our friends and we say things like, “I’ll never forgive you.” Or, maybe we expressed such a thing with our siblings (it happens). Perhaps there is a co-worker who makes your life miserable or – if you are a student – a teacher or professor who just doesn’t seem to like you for reasons you cannot begin to fathom.

There could be someone who has lied about you. Taken something from you. Hurt you in ways too horrendous to think about much less write about. Killed someone you love …

Those people make up a part of the “everyone” list. They are the reason we often want to “just ignore that part” of the Lord’s teachings.

But we can’t.

Lists 1 to 3

I made three lists. Those I find it easy to pray for were in the first column of names. My family. My friends. My I-just-love-this-person people.

The second list was of people who’d hurt me or someone I loved. (For instance my daughter’s neighbor – who has made her life miserable – made my list. Say anything you want about me but don’t touch one of my kids! I’m the proverbial mother lioness over her cubs.)

The third list were those who were in authority over me in whatever position God had placed them from the man in the Oval Office to the police officer parked around the corner from my house making sure I don’t go over the speed limit as leave the neighborhood.

As I pondered the names I realized that while I may not go to the Throne with them on my lips every day of my life (especially those from List 2 and List 3), there are times throughout the day … or the week … or whenever that the face which goes with the name comes to mind.

And this is my cue to pray.

Who Would Make Your List?

At a recent weekly Bible study held in my home, I challenged those who sat around me – Bibles splayed across their laps – to grab a piece of paper and a pen, divide the page into three columns, and start making “the lists.” There were a lot of giggles at first – especially when it came to List 2. (Sometimes, I think, we laugh at our hurts because otherwise they are too painful.)

One member pointed to a name on her husband’s list and said, “Be careful; she’s going to make you pray for that person.” We all laughed again.

“Not me,” I said. “It’s not my rule.”

We found that, for the most part, it was too difficult to discuss the names on List 2. Then, one member said, “But when we pray for our enemies, it releases the pain. I don’t know how, but it does …”

I replied, “I find that when I pray for an ‘enemy’ I often find myself slipping into their skin … seeing things from their perspective … realizing that some pain in their lives has led them to be the hurtful person they are toward me …”

So who would make your list? Care to join me in a little uncomfortable name-dropping?

Eva Marie Everson is the coauthor of the award-winning reflections of god’s holy land and the recently released things left unspoken. For more information about Eva Marie or to book her to speak at your next event, go to: www.evamarieeverson.com

Original publication date: July 6, 2009