Welcome to day 5 of Lifeis+2019.
Today, I have a confession, more than anything else.
We all work so hard to be happy as often as possible, and in doing so I know that I just ignore the things that frustrate or hurt me, and that isn’t healthy.
So I’m addressing it the only way I know how.
Writing it out for you here.
Luke 6:27 ESV
“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,”
I recently finished reading Everybody Always by Bob Goff, and by the end of the book, I was shedding tears unlike I can remember. The impact that that book had on me has yet to truly be seen, but if it is anything like his last work, Love Does, it will surely be something I remember for years to come.
See, Everybody Always is about becoming love and the journey we all take to get there.
Let’s talk a bit more about Christianity today. We really like to pick people out of a crowd and shatter them in our minds, making them these sinister and vile exceptions to the already vile rule that we are all terrible. It could be anyone, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, your mother, your youth pastor, hell for some of us it might even be whole organizations. Mormons, Catholics, Planned Parenthood. Regardless, I want to focus today on the personal. The specific targets we paint on single people for the things they’ve done. Especially in personal relationships.
Like, say, your girlfriend’s family.
John 13:34 NIV
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
I have a terrible relationship with my girlfriend’s family + some of her extended family, in fact, there is no relationship. In an attempt to keep what knowledge is ours to ourselves and to practice being silent when I should be silent, all you need to know is that there have been bad things that have happened between them.
Bad things that make me want to hate them, so much.
In fact, there was a time where I did. I truly hated them, I still do.
A distinct problem I’ve discovered about myself is that if you hurt someone I love, I have no grace to give to you. You may as well be a corpse before me because I am blind to the soul you contain.
Matthew 5:43-48 ESV
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
That last part really gets me. Because it is something I cannot do, but I must because I was commanded by my Heavenly Father to do so.
You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly father is perfect.
I will be the first one to tell you that what I lack far outweighs what I own. My imperfections writhe in abundance beneath my thin skin, stitched together with anger and pride and impatience. I am a boiling pot of fury, and I position that pot of red towards those who’ve scorned my love.
I came to realize the other day, the banners I cast draw a deeper reaction than I’d ever known.
When I first began dating my girlfriend, there was one person who I hated more than anyone else in the world. I still hold a grudge against him for nothing substantial. He successes are somehow failures for me. As if the life he leads is in direct opposition to who I am as a man, and that severely mars who I am as a Christian. After our relationship began I grew a deeper hatred than I thought I was capable of as our situation began to unfurl and reveal itself. I wrapped myself in that hatred with such passion that I dreamed of it at night. I was cursed with images of those things I saw in my heart. Those things that brought about such dark violence from within me.
And then, something clicked. From nowhere, I suddenly understood my setback. I don’t know what the trigger was then, but I have an inkling.
I started listening.
Before, when I saw those people I hated, I would shake my fist and fantasize about what it would be like if they approached me or my love and were to say something. I begged silently for them to speak out of turn so I could prove my bravado and arrogance to them with wrath, unlike anything I’ve ever held.
I wanted to punish them for hurting her, I wanted to punish my own enemy for hurting me, though, neither of them truly hurt me more than I let them.
This realization cascaded upon me as I watched them pass us by in the store a few days ago. I saw them enter and pace past my girlfriend and myself, and I didn’t even recognize them.
I thought then, that I had done it. I had overcome the hatred.
Unfortunately, it is not so. As we returned home those feelings welled up within me once more and I realized that I hadn’t let go of it at all. I was using it as fuel to a fire that was destroying me.
Because Christ called me to something bigger than myself, I could not harbor that flame any longer.
It has been my dream since I was a child to be an author. It has been my dream to be a father, and a good man, it has lately become a dream of mine to live more like Christ, and as such, I must watch what I say and I do more carefully.
I’ve always wondered how people who’ve lived through their children being killed or raped or tortured could have the power to forgive the one who chose to mar their lives like that.
I’ve realized since then that that power can only come from one place.
The love of Christ.
But I hear what you are saying, I’ve spent so much time speaking of my inability to love (because that’s what hate becomes inside of you.) and I have said nothing about what I’ve done to fix that. I’ve offered no advice to you, there is a simple reason for that.
I haven’t forgiven them, and I have not asked for forgiveness.
Jesus asks a lot from us Christians, and I think we get sown up in all the things He wants us to do that we forget that He knows we won’t do it all at once. He knows my pain and my struggle with forgiving my enemies. He knows my pain when I see what their influence has had on those I love. He sees it every day, but there is something important about those enemies.
They are in need of love just as much as I am. In fact, I’ve been saved. Those who stand against me don’t deserve my hate, they don’t deserve my anger, because Jesus walks beside me and He has told me that they don’t, because they are His children just like I am.
The same can be said for whoever you’ve chosen to hate.
Donald Trump, AOC, your brother or ex, your girlfriend’s ex…
It doesn’t matter who they are, because they belong to God, and that which belongs to God should be shown love, forever.
Because Jesus showed us that same love.
I will struggle to forgive those who have hurt the ones I love. But I will. I have made it my mission to become love. I’ve spent all of the free time I have on hatred. I have no time for it anymore.
There is nothing that comes from outside of God’s plan for you. Everything that lays in your path is meant for you to witness and experience so that you will learn, and grow, and eventually, you will understand so that you can become love, too.
I’m having a hard time accepting it still, but I am learning every day. I am changing inside and it wasn’t the hatred that made me change. It was what came just before that hatred.
The Jesus I love, the God I worship saved me, despite all of that hatred He knew I would harbor, He sacrificed His son knowing full well that I would fantasize one day about how badly I could hurt someone who He loved just as much as me. He chose to be hung on a cross even though He knew that I would relish in the anger I held. He knew that I would amaze myself at the depth of wrath I could harbor, and He knew I would get high on it in the silence of my quiet bedroom, a hardened heart in love with the idea of hate, lying inches away from the girlfriend He sent to me for such a wonderful purpose…
To show me what it is like to be soft again.
Romans 12:21 ESV
“Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.”
I want to thank you, earnestly, for reading this today. I have long been struggling with these feelings and I never knew how to form them into words until now.
I am an angry, spiteful, violent man at times. There are evil things inside of me, but I am blessed beyond measure that I am constantly met by Christ in that darkness.
I hope that this reached you.
What do you do when you feel distant because of your anger or your sadness? Do you pray, meditate, seek companionship? I want to hear all about it. I promise you won’t have me beating your back with the bible. I just want to hear from you a while.
As friends, if I’d be so lucky.
To my non-christian readers, I’ll be coming out with a post later this month about how you should react to the Christian in your life who isn’t living as the Bible commands and what you should do to help them.
Always Love, but I’ll get to that in a week or so.
Until then, enjoy the rest of Lifeis+. I’ve got much more on the way + I will see you tomorrow. I had to modify the release schedule a bit because of my new job, but I’ll have poetry out tomorrow and every Wednesday, and a couple bigger poems coming out through the month. To check out the release schedule just head over to my website + you’ll find links to everything I’ll be releasing as the days go by.
Lifeis+ 2019 Previous Content:
Categories: Umbral Dawning