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I love cars with bumper stickers. Like, lots of bumper stickers. Because, as we all know, nothing says “I sold my soul for this cause” like a handy dandy piece of sticky plastic on your car. Plus, it provides me entertainment at stoplights. The other day I pulled up behind said car, with a myriad of bumper stickers, and scooted up as close as I could to read them all. Some had quips about world peace, some about politics, one read “my other ride is a broom”… interesting… and then there was one that caught my eye: “Don’t Be A Hater” it read. Hater.
I remember the bizarre feeling the very first time I felt hatred from another human being. I was a freshman in college, a brand new Christian, and trying to figure out how to do both without looking too lost in the midst of it all. Of the things I could say “I know this to be true of myself” there was maybe one or two. I was in transition, and it showed. Honestly, I was hardly a blip on a radar for someone to feel threatened or intimidated by. I was a bland pancake of a soul.
For whatever reason, though, I did find my way onto someone’s radar. A young girl, my year, who wore a bandana and was strikingly beautiful lived two stairwells down from me. And apparently, she hated me. I know this - because I was told so. I remembered feeling nothing at first. Just shock, I suppose. She didn’t even know my last name. I steered clear of her path and minded my business. I truly don’t think we shared three words. Well, maybe three. But no more.
It was an odd feeling, to all at once to feel disliked, and yet feel totally unknown.
But then again, this is the way of hatred.
I also remember the very first time I felt hatred toward another individual. There was an individual who seemed to exemplify everything I wanted, and everything I wasn’t. The emotion that began as a small twinge of jealousy was allowed (by me) to grow, and spread like a cancer through my body, my brain, by heart. Soon, when I saw this person, I no longer saw a person. I saw a threat, a competitor, a factor to be endured in my day to day. I was too young in my faith to deal with my emotions, or to know how to process them, and so hatred was where my heart ventured.
Have you ever felt hatred from another? A co-worker? A woman from your play group. A girl in your class. Or maybe someone closer to you. A fellow church-goer. A family member. A friend. It’s a wild thing isn’t it? To feel all at once misunderstood and judged. With no hope of changing opinions.
The thing about hate, is that it says volumes more about the hater than it does about the hated.
Haters, by doing so, expose only themselves.
A hater is unfulfilled.
While it may seem like a hater is put together, strong and ferocious, the reality is just the opposite. They are deeply insecure. Like the bully whose home life is a wreck, their brokenness is taken out on the classmate whose mom packs lunches and writes them notes.
Jealousy points to some huge insufficiency within. A hater, is ultimately saying “I’m sad in this area of my life. I’m insecure right in the placewhere you are secure.” What’s more, a hater has left this part of their heart untilled by God. The places where we hate, are the places God has yet to fulfill and complete.
A hater actually hates you less, and wants to be you more.
I’m always curious when I see people get really angry with a public figure. A politician, a celebrity, or an entrepreneur. I think to myself – what do they have that you want? Do they have the fame you desire? The panache? The drive? The money?
While there may be a resentment outwardly, inwardly, there is a desire to be more like… that. More confident, more favored, more capable – whatever.
This says two things to us. When we hate, we actually are showing our cards of what we desire. And also, when we’re hated, it’s because we’re blessed.
This should give us instant red flags in waves of jealousy, and should give us much grace in times of feeling envied.
A hater can become a lover. Truly.
God loves to take all of us from our ugly to His beauty. Scriptures about hatred over and over are imploring us to take a better way. A higher path. To come up higher, and come in closer. Leave that, and come take hold of this, He whispers.
Oh, how Jesus loves it when we give Him access to the parts of our heart that are still a work in progress. Where there was strife, envy and malice, He loves to sweep it clean, and replace it with patience, love, dignity and peace.
A hater can become a lover. Truly.
If only we would give him access, and permission to restore.
With God, there is really no lack of love for us. It can well up in us like a wellspring and overflow into every room we enter. It’s our ultimate destiny, to be more of a lover… more like Him.
So, “Don’t Be A Hater” seems appropriate to me. Today – may you choose to be overcome first by his love. May He gently sweep the areas of your heart where you envy. May you choose, the moment jealousy walks in, to show it the way out. And may you well up with the full cup that has already been provided for you. Today, be a lover, you lovely thing, you.
Jessie Davis is the FUEL Young Adults Pastor at Red Rocks Church in Golden, Colorado. She is a passionate communicator and writer, and loves all things grace. Jessie is married to an incredible man - they live with their two boxer pups in the 'burbs of Colorado. You can read more at her blog here, or connect with her on instagram or Twitter.