If love is a choice, so is hate. I am struggling with not hating; struggling with choosing to not hate. It is hard, because it is a state of being that I am exceptionally comfortable with, even more comfortable with than feeling the Spirit.
I recognize hate and darkness, it is easy, there is no question when I feel it. It is easy for me to be dark, angry, and despise others: I have lived most of my life that way, most of my life has been consumed with it. I have to work at feeling the Spirit. I have to make an effort, because hate speaks louder, more definitively, and more exactly.
I have only recognized the Spirit in my life since 2014. I have trusted the Lord more often, far more readily, and chose at my conversion point that I would always follow prompting. And, for the most part, I have. But the experiences of the last two years, of following the spirit exactly, has led me to great pain, to the point where I don’t trust what I feel anymore.
That makes me angry. Anger makes me feel dark. I am comfortable there because I have lived there for so long. It is like those pair of old shoes that are comfortable, but they stink, are dirty and ugly, and don’t really match with anything else you wear. We won’t throw them away because there is an emotional attachment there too – they have taken us so far.
Trying on my new shoes of the Spirit has led me to some great things. I am in Phoenix, I have a great job, I am starting to make some friends. I love my ward, my bishop, and my calling.
But I am feeling dark as well. The same Spirit that has brought me to such a great place has also led me to great pain. I know I can trust Him with life decisions, but how do I trust Him when He has also led me to such heart ache?
Now I have a problem. I don’t believe the Spirit in some things. I don’t believe Him when it comes to telling me things about what I should do regarding people, but I will act in a heart beat if it is service related, church and job related; even decisions about my own life.
This inconsistency is hard for me. I have to have consistency, structure, and boundaries. I have to have stability and be able to trust people and the Spirit on what they say. People lie, the Spirit doesn’t, but I don’t believe the Spirit when I am told certain things now, because it just doesn’t make sense.
While I see the blessings in my life and the hand of the Lord in my life, I don’t trust everything. I feel like the dog that has been hit too many times. I love my master, I will take food from my master, I will even allow my master to pet me, but I cringe, waiting to be smacked for some random, unpredictable, unknown reason.
I am afraid. I am so afraid. I can’t handle much more pain. I can’t take another drubbing of the heart. I have wept and asked that if I am to be injured again to let me be free, only to be told to hold on to the very thing that stabs and assails me – hope. Only to be crushed again.
The problem with fear is that, for me, it displays as anger; it is anger. I cry, but I cry out of the passion of anger. Since my heart attack, I have become a lot more, uncharacteristically emotional, and I hate that as well. That makes me angry, because I can’t control my pain like I used to, so I feel weak and unworthy of respect. Especially when I weep around someone I thought I could trust.
Hate comes creeping in because of this increasing presence of anger. The adversary plays on my fear. The fear makes me angry, which is a fiddle in the adversary’s hands. The anger starts slowly turning to hate. Hate of myself because I perceive myself as weak. Hate of others for causing me pain that they choose to inflict on me by their selfish, miserable choice to be miserable and selfish, and seeing everyone through that lens as likewise.
Hate chases the light away, the darkness creeps in. It is in my eyes, my heart, and I feel the distance growing from the Spirit. I start questioning again “Maybe the Father really is a three year old plucking wings off me, His favorite fly.” My grasp of the Iron Rod loosens.
I have to choose. I have to choose to not hate, then maybe I can choose to love again. I am not there, but I have something that the adversary can never take from me – my resolve. My fight. My memory of all the amazing miracles and blessings I have received. I realize that the path to anger, darkness, and hate comes from a lack of gratitude. How can I truly be angry and hateful when I have been given so much?
I might not have all that I believe I was promised, all that I was told that would be mine, but I have to remember: I am only responsible for my choices. If we are truly grateful, we must choose to not hate by remembering that we have been given much. Appreciate what we have instead of dwelling on what we don’t. Be grateful for the ones that choose to love us, instead of pining over the ones that chose not to. Be grateful for what the Lord has given us, even if it isn’t as nice as what someone else has or is not what we had hoped it would be.
I need to love despite my natural inclination to hate. I need to be grateful for what I have instead of dwelling on what I thought I should have. I know that my choice to love is powerful, and that I have a great capacity for love, because I have already plummed the darkest depths of my hate, and I know of my capacity for it as well.
I may be afraid, but I must do more than choose to not hate: I have to choose to love. It is hard, the hardest thing I will do everyday, but my life depends on it.