And work for the peace and prosperity of Babylon. Pray to the Lord for that city where you are held captive, for if Babylon has peace, so will you. -- Jeremiah 29:7
As I was reading a few days ago, this verse hit me with thoughts of my mother racing through my head. She and I have not had what you might call the best relationship, and I have spent much of the past 23 years being angry with her. How could she treat me the way she did? How could she stand by and watch now, as I have struggled with my health for 5 years? How could she deny everything I've been through?
Her course manner and complete lack of compassion have always haunted me. She is the kind of person to which everything is overcome-able if you just try hard enough and want it badly enough. And if there is something wrong with you, it is obviously your shortcoming and not her problem, so why should she care? She has always liked to bully and guilt me into doing things, and she never lacks a suggestion why I should be something different than I am currently engaged in and exactly what it is I should be doing.
I have always felt like she's had me in a corner my whole life, trapped into doing whatever her desire might be. I've been living in captivity. And it has produced ill fruits - hatred.
But lately, things have been different. My mom hasn't changed; I just feel like perhaps I am coming to understand her better, to know where she's coming from. Is she right all the time? No. Absolutely not. Is she wrong all of the time? No. Not that either. But I can look at her now and see deeper than the surface I've always seen. I see turmoil. She is unhappy. She is unsettled. It is a place I know well from my own experience, and I can feel that resonating within me when I think of her now.
And so, I find myself praying for her peace. I wish for her the desires of her heart, those that would build her up and not tear her down. And I wish for her strength and endurance to fight the battles with darkness that she is currently engaged in. I see in her fear, the panic that is telling her to run away (which she talks about often), and I pray for calm, for her to find settlement and peace.
In praying for the captor, I have found freedom for the captive. Does this mean I've forgotten everything she's done (and that's quite a bit) and everything she is still doing? Nope. I recognize the capabilities that live within her (though I pray them gone, I doubt I will ever accept her restoration for my bitterness). But it does mean I have found what it is to live and walk in forgiveness.
Strangely enough, I even find that I am coming to have a soft spot in my heart for her. Indeed, I am beginning to love her. I even told her last night that I love her more and more each day.
So pray for Babylon. There, in your captivity, you may just find peace.