My friend Lori writes a blog called My Life Interrupted. Today she posted a thoughtful blog about love beats hate and asked her readers to consider also writing on that theme.
I considered that for awhile. I tried to think of times in my life that I have actually held hatred in my heart for someone or had them hate me. One incident in particular comes to mind.
When my son Erik was diagnosed with cancer, there were times when he would spike a fever. If this happened when his blood counts were low, it was a life threatening situation that required immediate emergency medical care. On several occasions, we found ourselves racing him down to the emergency room for intravenous antibiotics.
On one such occasion, a woman was waiting in triage with her son, however, we were pulled in immediately, in front of her, because of the nature of the situation. This woman became irate. She yelled at the hospital staff, ranting about the amount of time she had been waiting, and she didn’t care that my son’s situation was life threatening. “Everybody’s got something” were her exact words.
Already stressed by my worries for Erik, in that moment I hated her. And I believe she hated me. Years later, I still found that I harbored hate in my heart for this random woman in the emergency room, who could have cared less about my son. It amazed me actually how I could still, years later, be holding on to that hate.
This hate festered within me. Whenever I thought of her, which was often, I felt angry. I was mad at her for not caring about my son, I was mad at the hospital for not handling the situation. I felt helpless at the time, I was scared for Erik, and all the emotions flooded back whenever I thought of the situation, causing me to hate her, this unknown woman, even more.
Finally, I realized that I was hurting only myself by holding on to this hate. Erik was fine, having long since finished his treatment by this point. I had to let this go, but the only way I could see to do that was to somehow tell this woman how I felt. I wanted her to feel as badly as I did. Obviously, having no idea who she was, this was impossible. So I had no choice but to forgive.
It took me a long time, and I was almost unable to do it, until I really thought about the situation. I don’t know why she was in the emergency room with her child, but obviously he was sick or hurt. She was a mother, just like me, worried about her child. And in that moment, I felt her pain and her frustration. It wasn’t until I realized that she was acting out of fear, and probably feeling very out of control of her situation, much like I was feeling at the time, that I could find it in my heart to forgive her.
So I would agree with my friend, love does beat hate. In the end, hate hurts the hater most of all.