But I have hated. Recently.
Hating someone is a confusing business that takes up a lot of energy. Hatred muddles other things and disguises itself, so you don't realize how bad it is. If it's not too bad then it gets to stay. If it stays, you start to smell bad and your teeth will rot and and soon you'll look like this guy:
Yes, I know his deal wasn't hatred, but you get my point.
Around Christmas, I went to visit a loved one who is in a tough situation. I don't want to give details, but this person is being hurt by someone else. Let's call my loved one Sally, and the the bad guy Frank. Well, I haven't seen Sally in some time, so when I saw her around Christmas, there were major changes to her appearance that freaked me out. It was obvious how badly Frank hurts Sally.
(Side note: Please do not dare judge Sally because these situations are not as black and white to people being abused as they are to those on the outside looking in. She's in a tough place.)
So, anyway, it was Christmas time, the season for joy and peace and love to all! Except I was standing there in Sally and Frank's company, hating with all my heart. I hated what he had done to her. I hated that I couldn't whisk her away right then. I hated that it was Christmas time because that meant this was supposed to be a happy time, so I couldn't snap and give Frank hell like I wanted to. Most of all, though, I hated him. I imagined ten different ways I could kill the guy, a thousand ugly words I could spew at him. My head and heart were filled with vile things for him. I was shaking. I had to excuse myself to go to the bathroom and cry and cry. There I prayed, but all I could say is, "God, I really hate him. I know I shouldn't, but I want him dead. A painful, slow death, though. And I want to be the one to do it."
In the days after, this only got worse. When I was alone, I found it was all I thought about. After a while, I wasn't even thinking about Sally or how I could help get her to safety, but about Frank and how I wanted him to suffer. This ripped me to shreds from the inside out. It hurt. It smelled bad. My teeth started to rot. (Not really.)
Finally when I couldn't stand the way it felt, I changed the way I prayed. Remember, when I talked to God at first, it was only to tell Him how I felt. Next, I told him, I didn't want to not hate him, but I also didn't want to feel this way anymore, so I asked God to start working in me not to hate this guy because I certainly couldn't stop hating him on my own. It became clear to me that the reason I wanted to hate Frank was because I felt like if I didn't hate him, that means I didn't hate what he had done to her, which must mean I think it's okay and that I don't care about Sally.
But that's not true.
Finally, finally, in the past few days, God has started to heal my heart and soften it and show me a few things.
I do care about Sally, and it's not okay what Frank is doing to her.
I am allowed to be angry about it. It's okay to be angry.
It's not okay to let the anger turn into hatred. I can hate abuse, but when I turn that onto the abuser, the hatred only consumes me and does absolutely nothing to him, no matter what dark fantasy plays in my mind.
A better use of myself is love because if I am motivated by love, then my attention is on Sally, not Frank. Then I can pray for her. I can even pray for Frank.
I feel so much lighter. The tortured feeling is gone.
I could not have switched this myself. I was too consumed. This was all God doing His thing in me, and I'm so thankful for His grace.
God is bigger and badder than me, and can and will handle this situation far more effectively than I will by stewing in my ugly hate-filled thoughts. Hopefully this means prison because I don't think God being just will give this guy a painful death. Like it or not, God loves Frank, too.
I feel so free now.
For anyone reading this, will you please pray for Sally, that she will take the help offered to her to get out, and that Frank will be put in prison where he can't hurt another woman?
"But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." Matthew 5:44
"'Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord." Romans 12:19