This is my own question. One that I am personally struggling with for the first time in my life. I have never felt that I had enemies before in my life, but now I am dealing with difficult people and the resulting emotions that surge up within me are sometimes overpowering, and always disturbing. They bring me to tears, sobbing tears, and they bring me to my knees. I do not want to hate anyone. I really want to feel love, and to enjoy a peaceful heart.
In my searching for answers, of course I first contemplate on what the Savior would do. He, of all people, had reason to hate. And yet he didn't. Instead, he counseled,
"But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." (Matt. 5:44)
That is so easy to read, and so hard to live. When someone really does curse you, when someone really does despitefully use you, when someone really does persecute you, well, it's painful. It hurts. The resulting anger and hatred is a secondary, defensive emotion based on that hurt.
What if you have to have dealings with this person? What if this person continues to hurt you and act with total disregard for you as a person, over and over again? How can one have a truly peaceful heart?
How does one love?
Well, my own impression after examination of this scripture is that the Savior wasn't telling us to just "feel" love for our enemies, but to "do" love. Love is an action, a choice that is made day by day and sometimes even minute by minute. The feeling we call love, comes after doing what really is love.
My dad once told me that I was lucky that I was getting to experience these trials. "Wow," he said, "You get to learn how to live one of the hardest commandments, 'love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that despitefully use you and persecute you.'"
Bless. Pray for. Do good to. All acts of service. I must find a way to serve in some way, those that I have difficult feelings for. We love those we serve, we serve those we love. It's all mixed up in there, and for good reason. It takes one to feel the other.
I have to find a way.
I love a book by the Arbinger Institute called, The Anatomy of Peace, that talks about hearts at war, whether in countries or in marriages or other interpersonal relationships. The war is the same. We can either see others as people, with feelings like our own, or we can see them as objects, used to justify our own choices to self-betray. We choose to be 'in the box', to have hearts that are hard, instead of soft, looking at the world as though we are victims of it and everything supports that belief. I think I fall into that trap too often.
I want a soft heart.
I will not vocalize the specifics of the hatred I am feeling. I will not give power to it in that way. I will try to return kindness for cruelty, sweetness for blame. I will try to not fan the flames. I will find a way to serve and love by action. And, of course, I will pray.
The thing is, this person (or at least the actions of this person) deserves to be hated, but I don't deserve to hate, if that makes any sense. When I have these feelings, they consume and poison me. They punish me, not the other person. As someone else said, 'it's like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.' Or something like that. I don't like what these feelings do to me, and that's why I want them purged from my heart.
So, you tell me. What do I do? How do you learn to love someone that you hate? Is it possible, as I believe that it is? How can I have a heart at peace?