When I say the word hate OUTLOUD I envision a sharp knife. I think of a person being stabbed in the back. Maybe that stems from my own personal experience at a young age, my best friend betrayed me and left me feeling stabbed in the back. My first thoughts about the whole incident were, “why does she hate me?” Followed by, “What’s wrong with me?” Followed by, “I hate her!” Followed by shame. It took me a little while to get around the whole cycle of grief to visit the feelings of anger and hate, but I got there – eventually. Finding my way back from hate was a much longer process than it took me to get there and that’s what I want to write about today.
God’s Word calls that navigation process “FORGIVENESS”. Forgiveness is a choice and then it becomes a process. But it begins with the simple choice: are we going to forgive or hold a grudge? Holding onto a grudge is never going to end well, especially for the one holding it. Families are tormented by grudges. Nations are too. Actually this whole world is affected by the grudge the enemy of God holds against his Creator.
When we hold a grudge we are united with the enemy of God – the devil. By holding onto the grudge we are choosing to distance ourself from God – THE HOLY ONE. A grudge is like a weapon the enemy of LOVE uses to stir up anger, hate and eventually it will summon death. God is Love. God is eternal life. That’s what the Bible taught me – God is eternal. We are eternal- SPIRITUALLY. Our physical body gets tired affecting our mindset. I don’t know about you but I’ve been so tired I didn’t want to even think of eternal life. I confess: in my own experiences life can feel draining and at one point I just wanted to stop fighting – to stop living (like eternally). The thoughts of death wooed me into a state of complacency which eventually led to depression.
Referring back to my first paragraph, to being hurt by someone I loved and trusted and being betrayed: that brought out feelings from inside of me I never knew existed. Anger led to the blame game. I eventually began nursing a victim mentality which led to feelings of hatred. Disgust. Shame. Honestly I felt shame for having hatred for the person who betrayed me. My friend was selfish and from that self centered-ness she hurt my feelings. She became my enemy. The one who was once my friend became my bitter enemy. I was too young (and immature) to understand how to separate the person from what she did. I’m going to tell you the truth- I honestly don’t think she did what she did “to me”. She was selfish and probably wasn’t even thinking of me when she did what she did. Maybe I was too immature to be able to handle the heavy stuff of betrayal. Truth be told I was also being selfish and self centered – in my pain I began to focus only on myself and the fact the I was the victim. Maybe I handled it all wrong, but I chose to sever the whole friendship. God’s Word teaches forgiveness but I was not reading God’s Word at that time in my life – I was just trying to figure it all out for myself in my own limited thinking . In fact I was so focused on my own feelings and pain and myself – which is the definition of “selfish”. Hmm… I had to think about this…
For the record severing the relationship didn’t solve my hatred for her, if anything it was like a Petri dish in which my hatred was cultivated and grew like a virus. I was infected with hatred and it was completely contagious to everyone I came into contact with. My anger bred dislike, disdain, hatred, division, sarcasm and feelings of being victimized which created the space for vengeance to begin brewing inside of me. Until I read in the Bible, “Vengeance is Mine, says the Lord!” At that point I knew I needed to release the vengeance in my heart to God directly and stop allowing death and depression to woo me.
It took me many years to process exactly how hatred would be the death of me if I allowed myself to harbor it in my heart. Then many years later I was betrayed on a much deeper level with a much more significant relationship- the feelings that got all stirred up inside me were powerful. Hatred was still there lying dormant. Failure to destroy hatred at its root could be the death of me. This time around being betrayed I was much better prepared to handle the whole virus that came along with betrayal- thank God! It would have been overwhelming trying to figure it all out on my own -thank God for the comforting words of The Holy Bible and it’s wisdom. I wanted to die. Cease to exist. It felt good to imagine lights out, just stop living forever. But is that what happens when we die? According to God’s Word, no! We are made in His image and our spirit is eternal- I had to get my SPIRIT right with God. PSALM 51:10 Became my daily affirmation, my prayer: “Create in me a PURE HEART, O GOD, and renew a right spirit within me!” We do NOT cease to exist when our body dies, our spirit lives eternally with or without God – WE GET TO CHOOSE! So we had better get on with the business of forgiveness. If we don’t the effects will be eternal.
This is where many people have gotten stuck – in anger. In hatred. I don’t think most people have the understanding that holding onto anger is linking yourself up to a destiny with death. We are allowed to be angry, but unfortunately we cannot afford to get stuck there in that emotion. It leads to anxiety and depression. It leads to death. This may sound crazy, but it almost feels like life for some folks- like they’re not fully alive unless they have that explosive emotion of anger coursing through their bloodstream. I used to think anger was the only fuel for me to get ahead and not be trampled by other people in THEIR PERSONAL PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. How silly of me! I thought I HAD TO BE AGGRESSIVE FOR THE THINGS I WANTED FOR MYSELF – or people would walk all over me like a door mat. I’m no door mat. But I have learned how to lay my life down and submit my will to GOD AND HIS WILL FOR MY LIFE BECAUSE I TRUST HIM. I TRUST GOD.
I personally know some people who say they trust God’s plan but hold on to their own plans, that’s not true trust. TRUST IS LETTING GO COMPLETELY. The people in my life who hold onto their anger are not always the people I choose to spend time with because they refuse to believe that their anger is NOT SERVING THEM WELL. They think they’re right. They think they’re justified, but what does God say? What can I do to help the people I love understand the fact that God has THE VERY LAST WORD? Nothing. So I pray and keep my distance. Let me warn you – if you are an angry parent you are NOT GOING TO TEACH YOUR CHILDREN ANYTHING BEYOND YOUR ANGER – you are going to pass it on to your children and that legacy doesn’t honor God. Anger is rooted in pride. Don’t believe me? Do your research! Pride is a prison that will keep you from LOVE and from God. Don’t believe me? Ask Him! Finding your way back from the hate is impossible without God, but WITH GOD ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE. Be encouraged.