rebelling against low expectations

This Is the Biggest Challenge of My Life (It’s Not What You Think)


Sophomore year of college has been one of the most challenging years of my life – but not for the reasons you might think.

Not a lot of bad things have happened, a lot of amazing things have happened, and the Lord has been so evident in my life. That’s why this year has been one of learning, stretching, and growing.

Growing hurts sometimes, you know?

It’s this process of renewal and bringing about change. The Lord is so at work in all of it, but growing means letting go of some things I’d rather hold onto.

He asks for my all, and I’ll give it to Him, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

The biggest theme of this year for me has been loving my enemies, and that is a challenge.

I love my friends and family. And I mean love. But, that’s the easy part, isn’t it? Luke offers some amazing wisdom on this:

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:32-36).

Wow. This passage is one of the most powerful to me.

Luke is saying something so profound here. Loving the people who love you is easy. Even sinners can do that.

It’s not hard, so stop patting yourself on the back for putting up with your parents and your annoying siblings and your best friend who can get on your nerves sometimes, because they love you, and loving them is easy.

This is where it hits. “Do good to them.” Good? To my enemies? To the people who steal, and cheat, and lie?

That’s really funny, Lord.

To the murderers? To the people who have betrayed me and hurt me so deeply?

Yep, them too.

What about the kids who bullied me in middle school? What about my boss who is always putting me down and not appreciative of the work I do?

That’s right.

You and I, we’re called to love them – to do good to them, to have mercy on them, to give to them without expecting anything in return.

At this point, even I’m sitting back and saying, “Nope, Lord. There’s got to be some sort of mistake. I can’t love people like that. I just can’t. I’ve been hurt to many times. I’ve given too much. I’m cool with loving people who love me, but this, this is just too much to ask.”

Then the Lord turns around, looks at me, and asks, “But isn’t that what I did for you? Haven’t you abused me? Haven’t you turned from me? Blasphemed me? Been ashamed of me? Been angry at me? Sinned against me? Haven’t you broken my heart day after day after day?”

And here I stand, completely floored, because I know it’s true.

Luke says that the Most High is “kind to the ungrateful and wicked” (that’s us). He calls us to be merciful, just as He is merciful.

What an amazing sign of His love for us. He keeps coming back to us, day after day. Sin after sin.

And He never stops loving us. He offers the utmost example for the kind of love we are supposed to show each day.

When I think now of loving my enemies, I realize that’s what Jesus does every single day, and most of all, it’s what He did on the cross for me. He loved me, an enemy of His kingdom, and He saved me.

How could I hold back love from my enemies knowing that my Savior did this for me?

Luke 6:28 says, “Bless those who persecute you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

This is what I challenge us to. Let us go out and hold nothing back from our enemies. Let us love them with the kind of love Jesus showed us. Let us pray for them and show them mercy.

For how much more has God shown His mercy to us?

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Photo courtesy of Lord Jim and Flickr Creative Commons.


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About the author

Samantha Branum

is a 20-year-old mechanical engineering student at the University of Houston. People-pleaser, Jesus-lover, coffee-enthusiast. In other words: Jesus. Family. Friends. Coffee. Fitness. Fellowship. Impact.


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  • It sounds like you have a pretty good relationship with your siblings. Be grateful for that. I would just say, that for me, loving my siblings is the hardest, because I have to live with them every day, and continuously put up with them. Sometimes, my siblings are the ones that hurt me the most. This probably isn’t normal; just wanted to point out that your enemies really could be anybody who hurts you.

    • Hey! I totally understand rough family relationships. My family is far from perfect and I understand when it’s hard to love family members. I’ll be praying for your relationships with your siblings 🙂

  • Thank you for this article! It is really insightful, counter-cultural, hard-hitting, and definitely something that I needed to hear. Thank you!

  • Great article Sam!! I love and miss you so much and am way too excited to see this amazing peice published. COFFEE SOON?

  • Samantha, that hit home with me in a dozen ways. I’ve been going through
    exactly the same struggle as a sophomore in mechanical engineering
    myself. In fact I was in class just a few days ago where I was hating my
    professor. I was hating him since he was a mean person and was putting
    down everyone and anyone for disobeying his classroom rules. I couldn’t
    concentrate so much I failed the quiz we had. Halfway through class I
    realized that I had to tolerate him, but then the Holy Spirit hit me
    near the end of class that I had to love this professor. Love him? After
    everyone he has done to ruin our spirits for a month? “Yes, love him.”
    So I tried, I tried so hard but couldn’t for that class. Immediately
    after a friend randomly texted me that the type of love typically used
    in the Bible is not the emotion but the action. I want to encourage you
    with that (as your article can already attest to).

    And do you know what the kicker about this article was? I just learned this lesson days before reading this article.

    • Hey! I totally understand. It’s definitely a struggle. I’ll be praying for your relationship with your professor and that the Lord would empower you to love him even though it seems impossible.

  • I am going through a small (but teaching) point where I`m really learning to apply this lesson, and this is the third time since Sunday that I`ve seen something to reinforce these verses. Anyone else thinking that`s no coincidence?

    • Hey Reagan! I’m glad you could relate to this and that the Lord is working in mighty ways in your life and in mine. I’ll be praying for you as you work to apply this kind of love in your life!

  • So this is not pertaining to the subject at hand but my family and I need some prayer right now. And I didn’t know where I should post this so I hope this if fine. But I’m going to face a huge challenge tomorrow night. My only Grandfather that I have left I have not seen in over 8 years or had any contact with he is coming to stay with us for a couple of days because his son died and he is spreading his ashes in NC. He wants to talk an catch up I don’t know what to do, what to say or even how to act.

    • Praying as well — God will grant you the right words and an open heart tomorrow. Some thoughts: even when we’re frustrating with the decisions someone has made, if there’s an attempt on their end to reach out, the least we can do is go the extra mile in reciprocity. (And, when people don’t reach out, we need to try to ourselves on their behalf as that’s what Jesus did for us!) Life is so finite and fragile, so whatever rift came between your grandfather and you/your direct family, view this as an opportunity to share the love Jesus has shown to us!

    • Hey Martina,
      I’m praying for you, that the Lord would give you the words to say to your grandfather and that He would bless your encounter with your grandfather. <3

  • Hey Samantha, well said and nice of you to take the time to write it! Sometimes as Christians we are tempted to only be kind to those who reciprocate. One of the things that I remind myself of constantly is that it’s my sins that nailed Jesus to the cross just as much as anyone else.

    The only nuance that I’d put out there, and am eager to hear your thoughts over, is on prudence in association. There are many malicious people out there and the Bible says not to throw pearls at swine. When we encounter individuals who are just flat-out deceptive or dangerous, we should be careful — still pray for them, but not necessarily befriend them in a way that we’d befriend, say, a shy colleague in a class who might enjoy having someone to talk with.

    • Hey Christos! Thank you for your comment. I agree completely with your comment. As a personal example, I recently got out of a toxic relationship and my ex still wants to be friends. However, I know that this wouldn’t be good for me as a person and as a Christian. The most I can do is pray for him from afar, that the Lord would work in his life and lead him closer to His heart. Bad company corrupts good character, but my main point is, don’t let hardship in a relationship (with friends, family, etc.) be an excuse for you to not love them. God calls us to love unconditionally, but He also calls us to be wise and to seek wisdom. The wisdom part is important and I didn’t really get into that in my article. I hope this helps to clarify my point 🙂 Thank you!!

      • Definitely, completely agree. Sorry that your previous relationship turned out the way that it did, but God has a plan for allowing it to happen, even if it’s just to convey a lesson about being extra cautious when getting to know someone and/or the vitality of sharing the same values! You’ve got exactly the right attitude!

        • Thank you! The Lord has taught me a lot through it and I know He has a plan much better than I could imagine! Thanks again for your comment!

By Samantha Branum
rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →