All too often today we hear the rhetoric about hate speech in the media and press. We see acts of hate caught live on a cell phone video camera and broadcast to the world through social media. It’s no longer a story we read about in the newspaper and forget; it’s in our living room, on our tablet, and on our phone wherever we go. But, how do we deal with hate in our own life?
Growing up we had a golden rule grilled into us; never hate anyone. We could be angry with them, dislike them, and even want to smack them, but when it came to hate, we were told there’s nothing worse. I’ve kept that moto throughout my life.
In even the worst of people, including myself, I’ve learned to look for what God may see in them (and me). I’ll admit, it’s not always easy when you see what some people are capable of; especially when it causes pain to you or your family.
Hate, as defined by Webster is, ‘Intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury. Extreme dislike or disgust, antipathy, loathing’. Have you ever met someone who felt that way towards you? I have. Have you ever felt that way toward another? I have.
Albeit briefly, I have felt hate. When I did, it was for a person who had brought great pain into my life unfairly. They were abusive, manipulative, controlling, angry, selfish, vain, hateful, and basically sociopathic. They felt no regret or concern for my pain or the pain they brought to my family. All they wanted was for me, in their own words, to ‘Rot in Hell’ no matter what the cost.
In all my life I’d never experienced such a thing and haven’t again to this day. In the midst of it all, however, I found a way out of the pain, confusion, anger, and, yes, hate. It was through the words of Jesus to love my enemies and to pray for them.
In His own loving way, God reminded me that I was no perfect angel either. He gently led me down the path of forgiving them daily (something I still do today). Through the gradual act of letting go and forgiving them, I found peace in my heart and life.
God set me free from hating someone who stole memories from me and my family forever. He has now brought me to a place where I can pray for them to be blessed and free from their own bondages to hate. God has worked a full circle in my heart.
Had I allowed that hate to fester it would have rotted me to the bones and brought great misery to my life (and the lives of those around me). Instead, life sprang forth again and continues to grow. That person is still hateful toward me, but I have given them to God and chose to pray for them. Perhaps, one day, the love and forgiveness I send their way in prayer will find its way to them and return back to me… God only knows, but I will keep at it because I choose to forgive and not hate.