“Hate is a very strong word,” my three-year-old daughter reminds me any time I slip and use the word about my displeasure at being cold in winter or about disliking the phone after it rings twenty times in a day with telemarketers. But she’s right.
Hate really is a very strong word. It’s a concept I’ve been trying to get all three of my children to understand for the last couple of years. I guess they’re listening since it’s my youngest girl who shares this wisdom with us more often than not.
And yet, I’m the one who slips into old habits most frequently by using the word Hate about silly things like phones ringing and being frozen. It just shows how unthinkingly I express this too-powerful emotion. It got me to thinking how many other strong emotions I speak too often or don’t live out often enough.
How many times a day do I express my Love for someone, whether through my words or my actions? It’s not that I don’t do so much of the house-tending and person-loving and pet-cleaner-upping out of Love. Maybe it’s that sometimes ulterior motives break into the purity of what should be done, just because. Wanting praise or gratitude instead of just giving. Picking up the toys and scrubbing someone else’s messes with anger and frustration, rather than in thankfulness for little and big hands that created them and as a teachable moment in responsibility. Love isn’t anger or praise or clean houses. Love is Love, regardless of everything else that threatens its existence.
How often do I let my Fear of something overrun my mind, whether out of ignorance and just not knowing enough information to not be afraid? I’ve always struggled with Fear, maybe because I’m a first-born, quasi-Type A who likes to have plan A and B ready, and a goal to work toward. Maybe Fear grabs onto my gut because I watch too much Law & Order SVU or NCIS, trying to see some of the ugly in the world to be aware of what lies in wait for sweet baby girls I want to protect. Maybe I’ve spent too much time letting other people’s Fear trickle into my thoughts, letting me live in someone else’s box, and not trusting enough to break free. Fear disguised as Love is still Fear, just wrapped up all pretty. Love isn’t Fear. Love is Love, all pure and true and trust.
Does my lack of complete and total trust in God threaten my Faith because Fear is sneaking in and bringing Doubt? So about Trust and Fear and Doubt. Wow, like a three-cord strand that is harder to break, and yet must be ripped apart by Faith. Faith that shatters Doubt grown from Fears. Faith that holds fast to Trust in God who is greater and more powerful than every single Fear and crushes every single Doubt. Faith that clings so tight to the God who already knows, already sees, has already made my way. Faith that gets beaten up and smashed down by Fear and Doubt and issues, but has Trust that God will bring strength again. Trust that God is Love, and Love never ends. Love is Faith that endures all things.
And what about Hope. Does Love breed Hope or does Hope try to overcome Fear and Doubt to bring Love? Hmm. Sometimes I think Hope and Gratitude become cohorts of Love against the evil-doers of Hate – Fear and Doubt. Maybe it’s like an epic battle that has been raging inside of each of us, and outside on our streets. When I remember to be thankful, grateful for the blessings I have, Hope seems to emerge from the depths Fear and Doubt have shoved it into. Hope built on Gratitude grows Love for even those things that cause Fear and Doubt, choosing to instead find thanksgiving. Hope fills hearts with dreams, passion, servanthood to those who still struggle. Hope fulfills Love’s greatest desire, to share Love with others. Love is Hope unleashed in the face of Fear and Doubt and Hate.
Hate. Hope. Faith. Fear. Doubt. Love.
Why is it that it is so much easier to Fear that which we do not know or understand, rather than have Faith that God’s hand is at work and is not to be feared? Why does so much Hate spring forth from Fear’s beginnings?
Why does Doubt creep into the mind and work so hard to smother Hope, rather than knowing that God’s presence is doubtless and Hope in Him is eternally better than the Doubts of today? Why does Doubt drive people to Hate others who seem to have a better life or who seem so confident about life?
Why is Hate so unbelievably rampant – spewed from politicians’ mouths, smattered across TV screens, spilled across blood-soaked battlefields, ? Why does Hate have faster results – a searing gunshot that cannot be un-shot or less damaging, a brutal comment that cannot be un-said or forgotten, a cruel stereotype that is perpetuated and not stopped?
Why does it feel like Hate is the ruling force in the world more often than not?
And YET, there is one thing greater than Hate and all of its lies, death, harshness, intolerance. Love.
Love is truly the only way we can work to chip away the seeds of Hate…
Love is the only way to breathe Hope back into dreams that Doubt tries to steal.
Love is the only way to stir up Faith to tear down the walls that Fear too quickly builds.
Love is the only way to find Thanks and Giving and Peace that get lost too easily under the might of Hate and Doubt and Fear.
Love is the only route Home when all else seems lost.
Hate can only ever be overcome by Love.
Hate solves nothing, only breeds more problems, usually worse problems. Fear unchecked doesn’t do anything or anyone good. Doubt run amok is useless.
It’s only in finding the good, the blessings, the gratitude in every situation – no matter how hard it is to find – that we can use Hope and Faith and Love to mend the brokenness. Faith in the darkness is not the easier route to take, yet it’s crucial. Hope in the face of adversity may seem foolish, yet desperately necessary. Love in all places, for all people, is absolutely the only way to overcome every obstacle and every heartbreak.
Love first. Love last. Love always.
Love will overcome.