One day Lisa came home from school agitated and said to her mother, “If only you knew, mother, what a despicable girl I have in my class! Today she pulled my hair and called me a cry-baby! Nobody likes her! I wish the teacher would send her away from school!”
“What’s the naughty girl’s name?” the mother asked. “Her name is Martha and she lives with her grandmother. Her parents are dead!” “The poor child!” said the mother sympathetically.
Incensed, Lisa asked, “Why do you call her a poor child? She is my enemy!” “Is Martha not to be pitied if she no longer has parents? Think about how much more fortunate you are! What if you tried to become good friends with your enemy?”
“Oh, Mother, I could never do that!” “I think you can do it! – What did Jesus say? How should we treat our enemies?”
Sheepishly, Lisa replied: “He said: Love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you! – But never, never will I be able to love the nasty Martha!” “Have you already tried it?” Mother asked seriously. “What did you do that she pulled you by the hair?”
“I … I … made ugly faces at her,” Lisa stuttered.
“That was not nice of you. Tomorrow you have to do it differently. If Martha is mean to you, then you be friendly. And look for an opportunity to do something good for her!”
Such an opportunity soon presented itself. Martha had forgotten her reader at home. She quickly wanted to skim through the lesson before class. Lisa thought of her mother’s advice. For a moment she struggled with herself. Then she approached Martha in a friendly manner and offered her her book.
Martha looked at her with surprise and took the book. Lisa almost regretted her action. In the evening, however, when Lisa said her prayer before falling asleep, she added the request: “Dear Lord Jesus, help me to love my enemy!” Then she fell asleep with a quiet joy in her heart. She felt that the Lord Jesus accepted her request and would answer her.
Over the next few days she made every effort to win Martha with friendliness. But Martha remained shy and unapproachable for a while.
One day, when Lisa was walking home from school, Martha ran after her and asked hastily: “Tell me, Lisa, why have you been so kind to me in the last week?” “Because Jesus said that we are to love our enemies and because I would like to have my enemy for a friend,” replied Lisa.
Martha’s voice sounded softer than usual: “I want to be your friend and will certainly never hurt you again!” Martha kept her word. She gradually became a friendly, well-behaved girl whom all her classmates loved.