I like to think of myself as a pretty easy-going, straightforward person. I have strong religious beliefs and anyone who truly knows me can tell you that they are pretty conservative. What I believe is precious to me and I try my hardest to live my life in a way that reflects those beliefs to people who I'm close to and to those I may only encounter through everyday life.
I don't pretend that I am perfect. Perfection in my life would actually go against everything that I believe. I am a flawed human being who has been known to make bad choices. I get frustrated with life and sometimes even throw little tantrums. I try to my hardest to tell the truth but don't always succeed. I try not to judge or make assumptions but it still happens. I love with every ounce of strength God gives me and try hard to convey this to people in my life.
What I struggle with - regularly - is hate. I don't struggle because I hate - I struggle because I don't understand people that do. People often hate what they don't understand or simply hate what someone tells them to hate. I have people in my life who I have known for a long time and over time they have developed deep hatred for different things in this world. There are several things about this that bother me.
First, they say they are Christians. Being a Christian, I find this offensive. There are things in this world that I disagree with. There are things that happen that make me angry or sad. But I don't hate people or things. The God I believe in teaches me to love and He teaches me forgiveness. Yes, He is a wrathful God and He hates sin but He loves ALL of His children. No matter the size or shape of their sin, He loves them. So who are WE to hate? Who are WE to throw that first stone? I believe God wants us to hate the sin but love the sinner. Often that is easier said than done but I know that what I need is God's love and the love of others when I'm making a bad choice.
Second, these people in my life used to live their lives much the same way that I do now. They had love and acceptance and forgiveness in their hearts. But they have changed. Now they belittle others because they are different, speak with bigotry, racism and hatred and, in my honest opinion, repeatedly embarrass themselves with their ignorance. I am saddened by the choices they have made to move away from being the people that they once were.
Now, mind you, these people aren't hating things like war or people who hurt children - although I'm sure they have pretty strong feelings about those subjects too. No, I could make sense of those "hates". They hate people because of their religious beliefs. They hate people because of their skin color. They hate people because of their sexual preference. They hate people because of their political affiliation. And it's ugly.
It makes me angry. I am often hurt by their ignorance and insensitivity. I can choose not to listen or read or respond (which I often do) but then it is thrown full into my face and I can't avoid it. That is when I get angry. With righteous anger. And I hate. But, unlike them, I don't hate the people. I hate their ignorance. Their racism. Their small mindedness. I hate their sin of arrogance that they must believe they are above God's call to "love one another, even as I have loved you" (John 13:34) and yet they purport themselves to be Christians. I am angered because somehow they seem to represent to the world what it is to be a Christian and I am often judged because of their ridiculous need to hate.
But I'm letting the world know: they don't speak for me. They don't speak for my husband. They don't speak for my Church. And they certainly don't speak for my God.
"As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord" - Joshua 24:15