I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the “L” word lately, and it’s not because I’m in it. (Either forgive or be entertained by the ridiculous pun, thanks.) I’ve been thinking about it because I’m been finding myself more and more often on the opposite side of the spectrum.
Here’s a throwback to a classical scripture/childhood lesson/timeless passage that many have heard before:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily-angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
Now, as everyone learns sooner or later, love can be an impossible task sometimes. In fact, we can actually find ourselves not wanting anything to do with love, because if I can’t do it, I’m not worthy of it, either!
And then I find myself here, in hate. What’s hate like?
Hate can’t stand anyone or anything, hate is cruel. It’s jealous, boastful, and proud. It’s rude and self-seeking, it is easily-angered, it remembers every wrong thing ever committed. Hate finds joy in other people’s suffering and rejoices in getting revenge. It always hurts, always betrays, always despairs, always quits. Hate has only let every single person down.
Reading these two descriptions next to each makes me cringe. Which one, right now at this very moment, is easier to put my name in, to make myself the subject. I put my name in the place of love – wishful thinking. I then put my name in the place of hate – it hits the nail on the head. And now I’m faced with a choice.
Follow the way of love, and we can literally bring heaven to earth. Follow the way of hate, and it will take us the most miserable place on earth: our own personal hell.
But shouldn’t love feed off of love? If I don’t feel loved by the people around me, if I get hurt or someone breaks my heart or legitimately angers me, where is the love in that? How can I love back if love wasn’t given in the first place? How can I trust if no one trusts me?
I’ve known a few people in my life who were the embodiment of love. Somehow, love really was strong enough to heal the hurt, to protect from the pain of the world, the pain of other people; it was the best alternative to jealousy. I think it’s because they’ve already arrived in heaven. In heaven, LOVE IS REALITY. When I’m walking around in my own personal hell, I don’t understand this; it makes me angry when I see it. Because love is not my reality; all I know is hate.
Love is like the color white. It’s always obvious which t-shirt is the whitest, which piece of paper REALLY IS white, if the wall is actually white or just cream (or egg shell, if you will). Love is obvious. No one can miss it. Love draws people in. Hate shuts them out.
It really doesn’t take much to find ourselves hating; hell is sometimes only one negative thought away. And it really doesn’t take much to see which one is the better choice, either, no matter who you are. Love really is the only way.
I’m in grade school again, learning an extremely valuable life lesson: choose love.