There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. ~Anaïs Nin

Friday, February 11, 2011

Love Beats Hate

      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.


  1. First of all, thank you for joining in...did you post a link to this post on the facebook page? I hope so...cause it's not too late to do so.

    I can so understand why you would feel this way about this woman. Us mothers can surely be like mother bears can't we? I think we as humans will have these emotions of anger, rage, frustration and even hate. Sometimes these emotions are necessary in order to spur us on to do the thing we need to do in the face of an injustice. But it's what we do with the hate once the injustice has passed that matters.

    I think it's awesome that you chose to forgive and to let go of the hate. It really does help to put ourselves in the other person's shoes to help us do this. Taking the higher road and choosing love opens your heart up for healing.

    I am so thankful that your son healed and survived the cancer. Thank you for sharing your story blessed me to read this. XX

  2. If you don't have a facebook account I could put your link on there for you. Just let me know...the lady that started this posted something this afternoon that it isn't too late to I hope you do it!

  3. Deborah, this is such a powerful post. What a horrible situation and I can really understand why you felt as you did but I so admire your strength at letting it go no matter how hard. You freed yourself! That is such a wonderful and strong example!

    I remember hearing a story that I loved so the Netherlands during WW2, there was a woman named Corrie Ten Boom (she is a famous writer and was a fascinating woman). Anyway her family was Dutch but was arrested and put into concentration camps for hiding Jewish people in their home. They were so brave. They were mistreated and if I remember right some members of her family died in the camps. If that isn't a reason to hate, I don't know what is. She was released however and went on to be a public speaker in several countries. Once while in Germany, speaking about forgiveness, a man came up to her afterward and told her that he had been a Nazi and asked her forgiveness for what they had all done. She looked at him and didn't feel any forgiveness in her heart and she didn't want to ease his guilt but there he was, extending his hand to her. So she prayer "Lord, all I can do is extend my hand, but I don't feel like forgiving him...please help me." (Something like that at least.:) And when she reached out her hand and took his, she said that she was just flooded with feelings of compassion and forgiveness toward this man. That story moved me so much when I heard it because what if she wouldn't have even tried? She would never have felt that release in her own heart nor the man been eased of a tiny portion of his guilt. I especially like her prayer though "Lord, all I can do is extend my hand..." I guess that is all we can do on our own sometimes.

  4. I posted this post on the love beats hate facebook page for you! Thank you for being willing to share it! XXX Hope you have a good weekend.

  5. @Deborah: You are so right, hate hurts the hater. It is easier to hate, sometimes, than it is to forgive. That you forgave the woman from the ER is such very big step.
    @Colleen: what an incredible story! Thanks for sharing it.

  6. My pleasure. I know it really touched me!:)

  7. Deborah,

    I'm so glad that Lori's Love Beats Hate blog post inspired you to participate in the blogging event. (Thank you, Lori, for posting Deborah's link on the Facebook page).

    Deborah, regarding the day your son Erik was rushed to the emergency room where that mother you talked about said "everybody's got something", I cannot even imagine how upsetting it was for you (already under stress and worried about your own very ill son). I'm really sorry you went through all that. :(

    I am guessing that her word choice may have taken "making a commotion about the hospital's triage procedures" feel very personal (i.e. the fact that she didn't appear to care that your son's situation was life threatening must have been very upsetting)!!!

    It sounds like finding a way of using your imagination to put yourself in her shoes was the key to being able to forgive her and let go of the feelings of hate. Good for you for finding a way to do that. :)

    By identifying the things you had in common with her (both of you with sick or hurt sons, both of them in the ER for it, both of you worried about these sons, and both of you feeling pain and frustration), it sounds like you were able to imagine how she was feeling well enough to better understand why she acted as she did.

    As you said, she was very likely feeling fear (after all, what parent doesn't feel fear when his/her child is sick enough to need the ER?)

    Not knowing what her son's medical problem was, how long they had been waiting, whether she'd already witnessed other patients being seen before her son (possibly causing her to panic about her son not being seen quickly enough for his safety) etc. can take what seems like a woman who was just plain out of control and acting hateful and make it a little easier to understand what might have led to her saying what she did.

    Perhaps (?) some of her anxiety in the time she'd been waiting for him to be seen stemmed back to a distrust in the hospital's triage process (before you ever even got there) or a prior experience she'd had at that or another ER as far as triage was concerned. (I have seen some hospitals that have very odd triage procedures).

    Without a doubt, your son's life-threatening situation clearly had to take priority (!!!) over whatever it was that her son had going (unless he had something also life-threatening and the hospital somehow dropped the ball re: his situation). Her presumed fear/anxiety may have short-circuited her ability to think rationally.

    To be clear, I am NOT defending her outburst in any way, shape, or form. The mere fact that she made such a commotion while you were in earshot means that it not only upset you (enough to remember it so vividly to this day!) but it must have been heard by your son as well. :( Clearly, it would have been far better for her not to have such an outburst in front of you. (Any grievances she had with the hospital could have been discussed AFTER you were out of earshot).

    I am happy for you that you found a way to forgive her and let go of the feelings of hate that you had towards her. As you said, talking with her wasn't an option. So, you had to find your own way to forgive her without that face-to-face contact. It's great that you did.

    When I did my first Love Beats Hate post back in November, I included this quote:

    "Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated".
    ~~ Coretta Scott King

    By letting go of your feelings of hate toward this woman, I honestly believe that you have healed a piece of yourself! :)


    P.S. @Colleen: What a powerful story you shared about the Dutch author and the former Nazi.