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I’m not a superhero (I wish), but I do have a nemesis. So I guess that makes me superish. All of us have a nemesis. That co-worker, “friend”, or even family member who argues with everything you say, the one who seems to do things just to tick you off, the one who never smiles (at least not at you), the one who complains just to complain because they like it. The one you loathe to be around and avoid at all costs. You know who this person is in your life. The Dwight to your Jim. The Angela to your Pam.

It was dislike at first sight with my nemesis. We’ll call her “Frenemy Fran”. Fran seemed like the kind of person I would click with at first. I knew becoming instant BFFs was unlikely, but I thought we might be pleasant at least. Wrong. When I had an idea, she shot it down. When I experienced success, she gave backhanded compliments like “Oh, you finally finished that Master’s degree” or “Wow, great job. You must have had a lot of help.” I did everything I could think of to avoid Fran, including enlisting the help of friends to avoid her. Then something happened. My husband and I were given a pecan in the marriage class we were in. I had no idea how a pecan could help my marriage, but I was willing to try it. I stuck it in the bottomless pit of my purse and didn’t think about it. It was an ugly, brown pecan. I was honestly a little embarrassed to have it. I didn’t even know how I would explain it if a friend was curious. Pecans help your marriage? Pecans can be turned in to pie which is sweet? Marriage can be sweet? My analytical skills are stellar.

At marriage class the next week, we took out our pecans. The leader asked what we see. Most responses were something like mine, “ugly” and “brown” and “hard shell”. Then we were asked what we thought God sees. Oh. I felt Him telling me how He sees those people like Fran that I see no value in. Maybe Fran was hurting or insecure. Maybe she needed compassion. Maybe something really bad happened to her as a kid (like being dropped on her head? Yeah, I know it’s an evil thought, but I did wonder what was so bad in her life to make her this hateful). I remembered the verse that says something like kindness to an enemy is like heaping coals on their head (can’t I just heap the coals? No?) I thought about “love your enemies”. Instead of avoiding her I said “hi” even if she didn’t. When a friend wanted to gossip about Fran, I stopped them. Baby steps, but they are forward progress. It’s not comfortable but it’s the right thing to do. We will never be best friends forever, holding hands,walking into the sunset. I’m still swallowing my pride and learning to rely on God to help me love her. Maybe a little compassion will go a long way…someday if not today. I’m sure I’ll have more to say as God continues to work on me with this one.

What is stopping you from seeing your nemesis as God does?

*Several details about “Fran” have been changed to protect her identity.