Have you ever had a person in your life you just couldn’t like, no matter how hard you tried? Have you ever had a person in your life you were constantly comparing yourself to, and always coming up short?
I have. Her name was Kacie.
Kacie and I went on the World Race together, and in the beginning everything was fine. But by the end of our first month, we wanted to kill each other.
I wanted to be a writer, and so did Kacie. Kacie led worship and played the guitar, and I wanted to also. We both wanted to be leaders, wanted to be the smart one, both wanted to have our ideas heard, and our opinions respected. We were growing and changing and figuring out who we were and the more time we spent together, the more who we wanted to be seemed the same.
We slid easily into roles of being fierce competitors and after a few short weeks, enemies.
We infuriated each other—the smallest things were enough to set us off. Our arguments were broken up by our teammates, and our dislike for the other grew exponentially by the day. We watched in horror as ugly versions of ourselves rose to the surface—versions of ourselves we didn’t even know existed.
And finally, in a swirl of anger, frustration, competition, and downright dislike, we did what any normal person would do: we went to our leaders and asked to be separated.
But they said no.
They said no because they recognized that Kacie and I were making each other better—drawing insecurities and fears and doubts up that we had never seen in ourselves before. They knew that if Kacie and I could work through our issues with each other and ourselves, we could be great friends. I wasn’t convinced.
So there we were, stuck in a small group of people on the other side of the world. We shared everything—meals, bedrooms, free time, friends. Nothing was really mine that wasn’t also hers. There was no escaping her.
So one day we decided to call a truce.
We’d read Jesus’ command to His disciples, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” and so we decided to give it a shot. We wanted to see if maybe, just maybe, He could fix what felt so irreparable.
“I’m not sure I’m ever going to like you,” I said to her, and she agreed, “I honestly don’t think this is going to work.” But with no other options, we gave it a shot anyway.
Every morning we prayed for each other and wrote each other a little note of encouragement. We also brought each other a little gift. We were in Moldova at the time—a freezing little country in the middle of Eastern Europe—living in a town where coffee was impossible to find. Desperate, we went to a small shop in the town’s center and bought the family sized box of powdered coffee. Powdered coffee, creamer, and sugar all in one. It sounds disgusting now, but for that month, it was a delicacy.
So we each bought a box, and each morning when we came into breakfast, we’d hand the other a note of encouragement, and we’d trade off bringing coffee for the other. Yes, we both had a box, and yes, we could have just brought our own, but that’s not how we did it. I brought coffee for both of us one day, and then she’d do it the next day.
Each day began with a prayer, a note, and a small gift either for or from someone I counted as my enemy.
I’m sure you can guess what happened, but I sure wouldn’t have.
We discovered during that month just why Jesus tells us to love and pray for our enemies. It’s not so we can be holy, or be better people—maybe a little bit, but that’s not the full reason. As we prayed for each other, Kacie and I discovered when you’re praying for your enemy, at some point they’re not really your enemy anymore.
Love and prayer softens anger, hate, and comparison. It is the water that tends to a tiny shoot of compassion we often don’t know is there.
My eyes for Kacie changed that month. I stopped seeing her as my enemy, as the source of my insecurity, or the roadblock keeping me from becoming the person I wanted to be. Despite my best efforts, and desire to stay mad and distant and cold, I started seeing her as a friend.
That month changed everything for our friendship. We went into that month as enemies and walked out as friends. Kacie was one of my closest friends for the rest of the year, and when the year was over, we moved down to Georgia together. Kacie was my partner in crime, my best bud, and still is.
Kacie and I have both gotten married in the last 6 months. We stood at each other’s weddings, watching the other walk down the aisle, sobbing like a baby for all we’ve seen each other through.
When I moved to Nashville, I moved without knowing anyone — there wasn’t a familiar face in the town I now called home, until there was one. Kacie moved here too, just shortly after me.
Today, Kacie feels more like my sister than even a friend. She’s the one who knows me like the back of her hand—the best parts, and the very worst parts. She’s had a major impact on who I’ve become, and has been a constant thread of love tying together the last several years of my life.
There are people in the world we don’t get along with. There are even people in the world we hate. And while not all of them will become our roommate, our best friend, and our sister, they just might.
Jesus tells us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. In the moment, nothing feels harder, or more unnatural. But He tells us to do it anyway. It’s not so we’re a good person, or so we can look at that person through holy eyes and hiss, “I’m praying for you,” in our minds at them as we feel altogether superior up on our high road.
It’s because you can’t hate someone when you’re praying for them. Prayer, and love change everything.