When I was younger, I felt the imminent desire to have an “enemy” who I could compete with. Whether it was gymnastics, or school, or writing, or just in my social world, there had to be a bad guy. This would mean, essentially, that I could be the hero. I justified this mentality by telling myself that that “enemy” was their to motivate me, so that I could in essence propel past them. I was convinced that in order to succeed, I had to pit myself against someone else. How wrong I was.
The first instance in which I clearly remember this mindset forming was when I was getting into gymnastics as a kid, before I was actually on the competition team. One girl in my group got a big skill on the uneven bars before I’d even had the chance to try it. I decided that she was my “enemy” out of sheer jealousy. I should have been happy for her (especially since I was only eight years old at the time), knowing that I would get my chance when my coach knew I was ready. Instead, I felt the need to compete with her.
“For Christ must reign until he humbles all his enemies beneath his feet. And the last enemy to be destroyed is death.”
-1 Corinthians 15:25-26
This mindset trickled into other places in my life. I found it in my creative writing when I was in high school, comparing myself to other young authors and songwriters who had found more success than me. It was present in my academics, pitting me against the other students in my class, even my closest friends. It influenced my social life; I wanted to be the most popular girl in class and didn’t like when someone else stole the show even for a moment. To be honest, even in my romantic relationships, I felt the need to make old crushes of my boyfriends my competitors. The vast majority of my “enemies” were fellow young women.
On the flip side of this mentality are people who I decided to make “enemies” were people who had hurt me: former friends who had dropped me, exes who had broken my heart and new significant others who had been cruel to me, and people who had made up lies about me behind my back. I tried to use these people to push me, too, but it was by mentally competing against them. So much has changed now.
“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.”
Over the last year or so, I’ve been making a very conscious effort to reorient my mindset in this regard. Fellow women, and furthermore fellow people and children of God, are not my enemy. Comparing myself to them and making everything a competition comes exclusively from me. Feeling intimidated comes from me. And the reality of it is that all of those aspects brought me down. It didn’t push me to truly be my best and if it ever did, it wasn’t for the right reasons. I was so focused on what others were doing that it took away from what I was actually doing. Plain and simple.
There is a reason I’ve referred to people as my former “enemies” with quotation marks. It’s because they were never my enemies at all. The enemy and the evil that has flooded this world, they are all of our true enemy. That is the only one. When people hurt us, it’s because evil has a hold on their heart; satan has fooled them off the path of righteousness. The people aren’t the enemy; the evil that their actions are rooted in is. People who are full of true peace and joy throughout their lives don’t lash out and hurt others. Causing hurt comes from being hurt.
In the NLT version of the Bible, a section of the Lord’s Prayer reads:
“And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.”
Matthew 6:13 (emphasis added)
All this to say, our only enemy at all is the enemy himself. The way I used to compete with others was my enemy. The way I would compare myself was my enemy. Successful people I don’t know, my friends, people who have hurt me, people in general aren’t my enemy. Not at all. They never were and they never will be. Sometimes we need to reframe this concept in our minds in order to overcome the roadblock to growth through God in our lives as individuals and our lives in relation to others. We can’t allow satan to deny us that chance. Let’s choose growth today. Evil is the enemy. Good is the solution. Keep on being the good, friends.
“Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.”