Straightening himself up as best he could, he replied, "Oh, Sire, I have been laboring in your service, robbing and burning and pillaging your enemies to the west."
"You have been what?" cried the startled nobleman. "But I haven't any enemies to the west!"
"Oh!" said the knight. And then, after a pause, "Well, I think you do now."
What about you? Enemies to the west? Or the north, or the south or the east? Few people will sail through life friends with everyone they meet. And though most conflict can be resolved and relationships healed, some issues may drive a permanent wedge between people. Heart-felt moral and political and religious stances, especially, can polarize folks who just as passionately hold differing positions.
Former U.S. Ambassador Claire Booth Luce once observed: "I don't have a warm personal enemy left. They've all died off. I miss them terribly because they helped define me."
Even those opposed to you and what you stand for can serve a purpose. They can teach you about you. They can teach you about yourself. They can help you see what you may have missed. They can sharpen your point of view. And they can teach you about being strong in the face of criticism.
If enemies cannot become friends, they can become teachers. And if you listen, they will teach you what your friends cannot.
© 2004, John C. Fitts, III. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted from Grace Drops, Volume II (2004).