“Love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you . . . And when things are taken from you, don’t try to get them back. Love your enemies! Do good to them. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate” (Luke 6:27—28, 30, and 35—36 NLT).

Life is hard. And loving the people who turn on you, steal from you, speak ill of you, or stab you in the back is just hard. God calls us to love those whom we call our enemies, and I have been really praying about this since something happened to my family last year.

Shortly after moving to Minnesota from Montana in 2018, we were enjoying a great family day on Mother’s Day at a Twins game, followed by an incredible dinner at Rock Bottom restaurant in Minneapolis. The day was full of love, smiles, hugs, and lots of laughter. It was a day when I felt blessed beyond measure to be part of such a wonderful family. Sure, we have our ups and downs; but in the end, we cherish each other and love being in each others’ presence. As we were walking back to our minivan, our youngest son was running ahead—and all of a sudden I looked at him as he was holding up his Adidas zip-up jacket. In my mind, I thought, “Well, where did that come from? He didn’t have that in the restaurant . . . but he did have it at the game.” He looked at us in confusion  and asked, “Why is my jacket here?” Near him, on the ground, lay my daughter’s purple pants. And confusion raced through my mind and I wondered how in the world my children’s clothes had ended up on the sidewalk of a Minneapolis street.

I looked beyond my son to see a man walking towards us. He said, “I found it this way,” indicating the van’s open door. Someone had somehow gotten into our van while we were enjoying our family dinner. We had been robbed! Someone had broken into our van, taken my brand-new drawstring sports bag containing my kids’ baseball gloves, a sweatshirt, my eyeglasses, a stuffed animal, and the kids’ clothes—now strewn across the sidewalk.

The man told us that he and his friend had found the van with the door open—and that the friend had gone to get a police officer. We felt so violated, so hurt. Anger ran through us. How could this have happened? We always lock our doors. We ended up finding the gloves and the little stuffed animals that were in the bag. But after my amazing husband walked around for an hour asking everyone he saw and looking everywhere, neither the bag nor my glasses were anywhere to be found.

This whole situation brought on so many feelings! Fear tried to enter in. We instantly wanted to move back to Montana—or anywhere else. Just away from this place where we’d been so violated. We wanted justice for what had happened to us. How could someone be so cruel?

As we were driving home, the Holy Spirit started speaking to my heart. “Love your enemies.” And in my mind, I stomped my foot and yelled, “NO! No way!” Again he spoke the same thing . . . and he kept repeating himself.

In my mind, I started to have a conversation with him, “Why did this happen to us? Who would do such a thing? To get into someone’s vehicle just to take a bag and throw half of the stuff on the ground? Who would want to steal someone else’s eyeglasses? Why, God? Why do I need to love them?”

It was then that I felt as if he were saying to me as a loving father does, “Carrie, this is a teachable moment. Yes, what was done to you was unjust. But I call my people to love their enemies, to bless them and to pray for them. So, what are you going to do about it—and how are you going to teach your children in this moment? Are you going to teach them fear and anger? Or are you going to teach them forgiveness and how to bless those who come against them?”

It was something that seemed harder than it should have been, and I just kept two words: “Bless them, bless them, bless them.” And then I started to pray a blessing over their lives, that they would find Jesus. It was freeing to let go of that anger and to give it up to God. I can get new glasses and a new bag and a sweatshirt. But praying was powerful. The freedom it gave was indescribable. I wasn’t expecting that.

When we got home my husband and I sat our kids down and talked to them about what had happened and how we had decided to handle the situation in our hearts. When we shared this with them, fear seemed to let go of their minds because they knew that their parents weren’t fearful but instead chose to bless those who had hurt them. To be able to teach our children such a lesson through something we had all experienced—well, I don’t think any of them will ever forget it.

In the days that followed I found myself having to repeat again and again, “I forgive them and bless them, God.”

How would our lives be different if every time someone hurt us, offended us, or did something against us, we blessed them and forgave them instead of complaining about them, walking in bitterness, and speaking ill of them? What would change in this world?

Love your enemies.

Pray for those who hurt you.

And forgive.