Becoming Who You Hate

All my family is still sleeping. I am the first one up, and I have been drinking coffee as I snuggle in my quilt visiting various websites with my laptop. I think it’s amazing that I can visit people all over the country and world while snuggled in a quilt.

It’s going to be another beautiful autumn day. At this time of year, such days are a gift because we never know when the days will turn cold. Although I like cold days too.

I contemplated trying to get some laundry done at the laundromat before my guys wake up, but I decided against it because I do not know if, with all the running around we plan to do today, I will be around to put the clothes in dryer. I so not want to have a bunch of wet clothes mouldering in the basket. It’s would be a beautiful day to hang clothes up, but I put away the retractable clothesline yesterday before the firewood blocked it so I couldn’t. So I’ll put the laundry off until Monday afternoon.

I am currently on Draft #4 of my letter to my Mother. I am trying hard to get the right tone of heart: Loving and forgiving, but also firm on boundaries. It’s not easy because some emotions intrude. I have spent 20 years trying to deal with anguish and drama of manipulative, angry family. In May 2010, I finally said, “Enough!” and separated from them. For 20 years I have prayed that God would keep my heart open to forgiveness and reconciliation, and that He would work in my family’s hearts too. So I have mixed emotions: Part of me longs for (healthy) family and leaps at the thought of reconciliation and healing. Part of me groans, “Haven’t we had enough drama and anguish? Can’t they just leave me and my family alone and get on with their own lives?” I’m so tired of drama. I’m not quite sure this isn’t just another manipulative ploy to draw me back into their lives.

All this comes at a time when I am dealing with a friend who won’t forgive my family.  I know that she is tired of people failing, betraying her, not giving her a break, holding her to standards she can’t ever meet. However, if she can’t forgive us for our failings and imperfections, then she becomes one of the people she cries against.

Which reminds me of a time when I ranted against people who rant. Some people in the church we attended used to rise up and rant about people who failed to live a Christian life. I think a lot of what they said was true–we DO need to get right with God and live holy lives. But these people–one man in particular–would rant about it so much I swear he was foaming at the mouth. He made me feel battered and bruised. One day this man ranted, and on the way home, I began to rant about his rants and how tired I was about them. Then I paused and said, “Wow. I sound just like him. I am ranting about people who rant.”

This led to a lot of reflection about how often

  • We rant about people who rant.
  • We condemn condemning people.
  • We judge judgmental people.
  • We hate hateful people.
  • We refuse to forgive unforgiving people.
  • We expect people to live up to standards we can’t ever keep ourselves.
  • We try to control controlling people.
  • We seek revenge against the revengeful.

If we aren’t careful, we become the people we hate. The ONLY way to not become what we hate is to “do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12). In other words, we must forgive unforgiving people, we must not hate hateful people…or we become them. We can only overcome unforgiving, angry, manipulative people by becoming people of love and forgiveness and truth. We overcome evil with good, not by returning evil with evil (Romans 12:21).

This doesn’t mean that we allow controlling, hateful people to control our lives. There is the principle of Opposite Truths. There are people who would oppress and enslave others through manipulation, intimidation, and control–and to always do what others want can be just as damaging as to always insist that others do what WE want. However, we must not respond to hatred, condemnation, unforgiveness WITH hatred, condemnation, unforgiveness, and so on. It is often necessary to separate from abusive people, and healthy boundaries are essential, but it must be done with wisdom and necessity, not with hatred or revenge.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Amen.  (St. Francis of Assisi)

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