I had this colleague a while back that drove me nuts. Seriously. I was in my fourth-year teaching third grade when she joined our small school from a large public school where she had previously taught third grade for 10 years. To make it more interesting, her daughter—her “mini-me”— was in my class. And this woman was very much a type-A personality (whereas I am definitely not). She was not afraid to make suggestions on how I should do things her way. She drove me nuts!

I came home from work one day venting my frustrations to my husband when he said, “Renee, it sounds like you should pray for her.”

WHAT! Pray for her! That was the last thing I wanted to do. I wanted to pray she’d get fired. Pray she saw what a b*** she was.

“No, Renee. You need to pray for her. For her family. For the Lord to do a work in her life and bless her.”

HONEY! I thought you were on my side.

But… I did it. I prayed for her. Reluctantly at first. Every time I wanted to strangle her, I prayed for her. Each night I made an effort to pray for her.

Before long I noticed something.

Slowly… My heart towards her changed. Slowly… I no longer cringed when I heard her voice coming down the hall. Slowly… I started realizing she was a person with her own struggles. Slowly… I no longer dodged the teacher’s lounge on our shared breaks but embraced the opportunity to converse with her. And eventually… I actually looked forward to hearing about her day.  

But more importantly, I realized when I pray the Lord is working on my heart. Yes, he hears my prayers, but often those prayers are answered in a heart change on my part rather than fixing the other person in the tangible way I want.

Thank God He knows what I need not just what I want.

I cannot change another person. Only God can do that. So, instead of wasting my efforts, I need to pray for them, and let God do what only he can do.  

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘Hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” Matthew 5:43-44.