As a kid, I was always upset that I didn’t have any enemies.
Sure, sometimes Eric annoyed me, Christian teased me mercilessly, and Mary got on my nerves, but we were all on the same side. In a crisis, I knew we were fellow soldiers in the great battle against… well, there was the problem. Who could we be against?
There was a neighbor girl we didn’t like, who was rude and made fun of us for being homeschooled. But Mom said to be nice to her, because she came from a messed-up family and was dealing with a lot of pain and hurt. Way to use sympathy to ruin a perfectly good enemy, Mom.
For a while, I was annoyed that our neighbor girls up the street screamed so much. I tried everything I could think of to construe it as an enemy attack, but it never held any water, so I gave up.
Ultimately, I realized there was no one in my life I could abjectly hate. I solved this problem in my usual fashion: I wrote a story.
In the stories, the heroine and her trusty band of siblings and friends had to fight in self-defense against neighbor kids who literally wanted them dead. They had epic battles in the woods, fighting with sticks and using stealth and strategy. The enemy neighbors made bombs by setting pine cones on fire, and one of them tried to run over the heroine in his parents’ car. They almost killed her brother, leaving him for dead in the woods. But against all odds, the heroine was able to bring about peace in the end. I can’t remember how, but I think that she showed mercy to one of her enemies and used it as a way to proclaim the good news of Jesus.
In telling myself these stories, I discovered something that I didn’t process until years later: as much as I thought I wanted an enemy, I really just wanted everyone to get along in the end. Without the stories, I might not have figured that out.