In what world is ‘Hate” an acceptable form of behavior. The answer is, in our world. People hate all of the time. Ask me, I know.

As a father I was told:
“You are a terrible father and your children would be better off if you were dead.”

As a project manager I was told:
“Sit down. Shut up. And, let us do our work.”

As a co-worker I was told:
“Stephen has to be experienced to be understood.”

As a co-worker I was told that I wasn’t welcome in their office then or ever.

As a friend I was accused and taken to court for a crime that my accuser knew I didn’t commit.

The variety of ways that people have told me “I hate you” continues on. My list is long.

Oh, I know the pain of hate. I’ve suffered for it. I’ve paid a heavy price for believing its words. I’ve gone through the denial, grief, anger, rage, and acceptance. During the worst of those times, I went to a place that I can only describe as blackness: no light, no warmth, no love. The absence of anything but pure, overwhelming pain is a horrible place to be. Oh, I know hate.

The only reason that I can even write this to you now is that I’ve found a way out. I’ve found a way to a better place. A place where I learned to embrace my differences. A place where I learned that hate destroys the souls of those who hate. But, I couldn’t find that place on my own. I needed friends. I desperately needed friends who would unconditionally accept me for who I am.

What is a friend? Someone who will be there all the time, not just when it feels good.
Someone who knows that there is something more important then being right.
Friends give you an extremely powerful version of hope.
A hope that gives you the power to take one more step.
A hope that knows that there is something more out there.
A hope that loves you into a place where dreams thrive.

It was through my friends that I discovered the most amazing fact, a fact that I didn’t really understand until I experienced it. In all things, love conquers hate. Love is so much stronger in so many ways. How little I understand. How much more I want to learn.

So, the next time you find that dark place… No wait, right now, before you find that dark place, cultivate your friendships. You just never know when you’ll really, really need them.

John 15:12-16 says an amazing thing. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”

Thanks be to my best friend, (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost).
The more that I get to know you, the more amazed I become.
Praise be to Your holy, holy name.

And now, I’m off to cultivate a friendship.

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