“What is greater? Love or hate?” This question is recently so real to me. It’s so real that it hurts. I’ve found myself full with anger; so much so that I can’t stop from shaking. I suppose I should give you some context.
In life, we put expectations on everything. We decide what we should get out of something. We measure the risk versus the reward. Even when we choose to not put expectations on something it seems as if our expectation is simply to expect nothing special. However, really what we are doing is trying to trick our mind. We try to safeguard ourselves from pain or hurt. We try to protect our mental state from going through the injury it has so many times endured. We try to conquer our dilemma by becoming an impenetrable fortress. And when those expectations are broke, well, hate is very close. But how does love fit into this?
Love is the game changer. It’s the unconventional idea that has perplexed minds for centuries. It doesn’t make sense. Love has made the hard heart soft while the lack of love has waged war between countries. Love is pertinent to the wellbeing of humanity. But how do I safeguard myself and still love? You can’t. Again, I am here to tell you “You can’t.” It doesn’t exist and it never will. Love isn’t safe. Loving someone isn’t some impenetrable fortress. In fact, it’s quite the contrary. Love is dangerous. Love will open you up like never before. It will expose you.
Back to expectations.. I have been leading a group of young people for some time now. It has been good. It’s been hard. It’s been worthwhile. The truth is, I put expectations on people, and in a similar way, they place expectations on me. As you may have guessed, those expectations aren’t lived up to. They are broken, and when they break, it hurts. It hurts bad. It impacts you so much that it makes you question everything. It makes you want to lash out to tell those who have broken your expectations that, well, they have broken your expectations. And I think the scarier thing than that, it makes you want to protect yourself from being hurt again. And again, you can’t safeguard yourself and still love. The essence of what love is is desiring what is best for someone else even more than the desire for what is best for yourself AND acting upon that desire. When we love, we want what is best for them no matter what the implications might be for myself. That is love. It’s not safe. It hurts.
But what about the alternative? I could give up. I could choose to hate. Perhaps even deeper than hate, I could choose to be indifferent. “Because you know what? People have hurt me immensely! I can’t take it any longer..” And again, I am here to say hate/indifference will never satisfy you. It will never change the world for good. It will never fix anything in anyone. Only love can do that. Only love can soften the hard heart. Only love can open the eyes of the blind. Only love can bring hope to humanity. Only love..
You may be reading this and be getting upset with me as you think “this is outlandish. This is unrealistic.” Friend, hear the tone of my heart as I say these next words: “Dearest friend, you probably have every reason in the world to quit. People have hurt you, your family has turned against you. Those that you held the closest have let you down. I am sorry. I am so sorry that this has happened. I hurt with you. I may not understand the extent of your pain, but I understand where it comes from. But friend, please don’t give up. Please don’t throw-in-the-towel on love. Because love is all we’ve got. Please don’t become another cynic. That will never fulfill you. That will never fulfill the world. Only love can do that. “Hate doesn’t stop hate, only love can do that.”
Also, the idea of simply “not quitting” can be a riveting task. It seems to always get the best of us in the end. I think the key to this is being able to find rest in the madness. Personally, I have found this to be a reality when I choose to fix my eyes on Jesus. How did Jesus love? How did he interact with people? Some of the questions I have struggled with are “Did Jesus love those who hurt him? Did Jesus love Judas? Did Jesus love those who nailed him to a cross? Did Jesus love the follower who continually missed the point? Did Jesus love Barabas? Does Jesus love me?” For all of these, I have come to a resounding “Yes.” He did, he does, he always will. His love is extravagant. Seeing Jesus inspires me. Seeing Jesus gives me perspective. Seeing Jesus allows me to keep moving. As I end, don’t keep going just for the sake of keeping on going. However, look to God. See his love. See how it works. Try* to comprehend the depth of his love. Let that be what inspires you. Let that be what moves you. Know that no matter how other people respond, God loves you and let that be enough. Love is greater than hate. It always has been and it always will be. Love somebody, friend.