Years ago, while working at my desk early one morning in a store-front, a behemoth of a man came barreling through the door and headed straight for me. He was raging mad, yelling at the top of his voice, spewing hatred, and acting like he was ready to do something destructive.
I feared for my life.
I shoved my chair with myself in it back from my desk so he couldn’t reach me, and prayerfully reached out to God for what to do next.
I remembered Jesus Christ’s words, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matt. 5:44, NKJV).
From a physical point of view, I looked helpless and cornered by a raging brute, but from a spiritual point of view, there was something I could do to protect myself from harm and help him too. I could love him and prayerfully work to dissolve the anger in his mind.
I knew that it wasn’t a personal love coming from me that would render this man harmless, but divine love coming from God. “God is love” (I John 4:8), the Bible reminds us, and God is the most powerful force for improved thinking in all human relations.
I prayed to see this man’s thought under the control of love, rather than lost in mindless hate.
I knew that this man was not my enemy. It was the hate he manifested that needed to be disarmed and destroyed. Like pouring hot water on a block of ice, I believed that pouring love all over this man’s thought, would work to melt away his fears and anger, and restore his peace of mind.
As I looked into his eyes, and prayed for him to feel God’s love, I felt that same love myself. I lost all fear of him and felt complete composure.
He would not listen to a word I had to say, for he was so lost in his fury. But I kept on loving him, knowing that divine love could penetrate his thinking and bring him peace.
As I held my gaze to his and saw him as one of God’s beloved, he eventually stopped pounding my desk, lowered his voice and relaxed a bit. After ranting a while longer, he slowed down and showed willingness to listen.
I shared some of my prayer for him to feel love in his life. In twenty minutes, he was sitting in a chair and conversing with me about how to resolve the issue that created his rage. In 40 minutes, we were friends.
He left the office happy and at peace. He returned every few weeks over the next two years I was stationed at that office to say “Hi” and foster our newfound friendship. I never saw a repeat of the above.
In the face of uncontrolled anger, it can be tempting to feel fearful and desperate. But we’re never alone or helpless.
There is something we can do to protect ourselves and help the offender. We can maintain our spiritual composure and love them in a way that dissolves their anger and restores their peace of mind.
We may even turn an enemy into a friend.