Sometimes I think hate is just poisoned love, it’s when passion gets all twisted up in Self. The opposite of love is apathy. Hate is what happens when love serves self rather than God and others. I read another fascinating article this morning, Five Things Christianity Can Learn From Buddhism. Hate is what happens when Ego tries to love. It is impossible to serve both God and Self, and impossible to serve others meaningfully without serving God and impossible to serve God without serving others. And maybe learning to be right-hearted matters more than right-thinking or right-living. After all, being right-hearted will be reflected in everything we think and live.
Trying to love selfishly is trying to use someone, it turns into “I love you proportionally to how I feel loved by you.” It becomes coercive and objectifying. It makes it easy to use people and dispose of them. When Self tries to love it quickly gets twisted into feeling hated when the Other cannot live up to the impossible expectations of objectification. Soon Self can find nothing to appreciate and plenty to criticize and judge. Judging others always makes us feel judged. God doesn’t have to do anything, it’s instant karma. The quickest recipe to feel insecure is to find flaws in others. There might be a fleeting feeling of superiority and smugness but there has to be a constant supply of criticism to feed it and underneath the hole of fear and personal failing gapes larger and larger.
So, there’s my philosophy for the night. Back to this business of trying to love someone who likes to hurt me. “Love is the commitment of my will to your needs and best interest regardless of cost.” Interesting that in every example meeting needs comes first.
I was reading earlier (The Case for Faith – review coming soon) about how when Jesus talks about loving enemies he first mentions basic physical needs. Food. Water. Coats. The question is not “why does he hate me?” but “what does he need?”
The same book also makes an interesting point about using “emotional honesty” as an excuse to be lazy, selfish or even just an asshole. Acting with love is easy when it’s just a sentimental feeling. What really shows who we are how we act when we don’t “feel” it. Does anyone ever feel like getting up with a baby in the middle of the night? Heck no. It’s “emotionally dishonest” to clean her little bum and nurse her and rock her.
The problem is that I am a really terrible mind reader and this is a person who will always pretend he doesn’t need anything but then turn around and accuse me for things like “breaking protocol”. There is some piece to this puzzle I cannot see. Now, I am aware that some of this behavior borders on controlling and that there are people who will tell me not to put up with it. And it is rather unlike me to put up with such things. OK, completely unlike me, cut and run when the swords are drawn is my motto. But this is a special case. I am hurt and angry, yes, but I don’t hate. The problem with looking at the world as realistically as I can is that I still see much that is lovable. I still see my same old friend under all that cruelty. And I try to see everyone as a child of God, as a temple of the Holy Spirit. I cannot see only the hatefulness and meanness, I also see hurt and fear, I see confusion and suffering, I see love and kindness. All at once. Damn confusing. Life was much easier when I allowed myself to look through one half-closed eye and see only what I wanted to see. These new glasses are too powerful for my week eyes.
Despite what Hallmark and Hollywood would have us believe love is not an emotion and being “in love” is only an illusion. It is action. It is not sentimental. How we love others is how we love God. The only way I can find through this is to try to keep front and center my heart and mind that I am not loving a mean person but loving God.
My dad and I had a good talk a while back that touched on this topic. He mentioned that it’s important to be joyful while serving people. Not happy. Not having fun. Joy is a spiritual choice. It comes from a heart at peace. And having a heart that isn’t at peace will always be reflected in words and actions. Joy and peace aren’t emotional states either. Being right-hearted is what makes a mother get up to change that diaper. It isn’t “emotionally honest” but it still comes from love. And the act of doing right is what love is.
I can’t make anyone do right by me. I can’t give away my new glasses, the frighteningly clear ones that make for such a huge and detailed picture. Well, I can give away the glasses and know they are free and not mine to keep, but I can’t make anyone wear them. In the case of a child she will let me know what she needs. In this case I am going to have to go with doing as I would have done to me. I’ve tried doing as he does under the theory that we tend to treat people how we want to be treated but that didn’t work out so well. OK, it led to more accusations and hurtfulness. Obviously he doesn’t want to get back what he gives.
And yes, this is exhausting work. It’s been wearing me out every bit as much as having a newborn in the house did. The only way I survived that was by faith and relying on God for strength. If it worked for the darkest hours of my life I will trust that it will work for this situation too. For whatever reason God seems to think this is where I need to be and what I need to be doing. I don’t get it. But it really isn’t about me, is it?