Tom McDaniels: Hate is not a friend – here is our pathway to healing

If we hate our lives because of how God made us, then we must allow God to use what He made.

The world is complex.

The people of the world more so.

We experience highs and lows, ups and downs, hate and love.

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Love in action is exhilarating to watch – a mother looking into the eyes of her child, a man opening the door for a lady, someone escorting a senior citizen across a busy street. All refreshing. Watching hate not so much. Hate is hard to watch or read. Social media is filled will vitriol and hatred.

A quintessential question is, Where is hate coming from? A Google research question uncovered part of the answer.

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In a New York Times story called “Googling for God,” author Seth Stephens-Davidowitz explored recent trends in Google search data, specifically related to questions people pose about God. Stephens-Davidowitz notes that the number one God-related question on Google is, “Who created God?” Not surprisingly, number two is “Why does God allow suffering?” However, I was shocked and dismayed to see the question that came in at number three: “Why does God hate me?”

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Stephens-Davidowitz then provides an even more troubling piece of information: “What is the most common word to complete the following question: Why did God make me ___? Number one, by far, is "ugly." The other sad answers in the top three are "gay" and "black." Although the author of this article does not explicitly link “Why does God hate me?” and “Why did God make me ___?”

I couldn’t help but wonder if there might be some connection between the two questions. After all, if you believe God made you “ugly,” it’s not a stretch to believe God hates you, too, since in our culture “ugly” is a very negative term that is used to denigrate people based, primarily, on their appearance.

In the same way, given that those who identify as black or gay are often marginalized in our society — or even targeted for violence on the basis of those identities — it’s not hard to imagine that members of those groups might feel that God is, at best, indifferent to their plight, or, at worst, that God has hand-picked them to be oppressed and mistreated.

The report is eye-opening and painful to read. The reality that some of us feel and believe that we are ugly is heart-wrenching.  And the thought of being angered with God for our appearance is mind-boggling.

No one is ugly. Ask your mother. In comparing beauty we believe the lie that everyone beautiful has a great life. Not true. Beauty can be a curse. And so can comparison. Beautiful people have equally severe battles as the less beautiful.

Only God can heal our broken hearts. Only God can turn hatred around. Injustice is real. Everyone is not good. But God is good, and He can heal our hatred of self and life.

Neither the beautiful nor the less beautiful have the privilege of choosing their family of origin. We also have no control over our birth features. And since we cannot blame ourselves, we have to blame somebody. Right?

I guess God is the obvious choice. This choice births the belief that God is indifferent toward us. This affects our perception and our feelings toward God and ourselves.

To believe that God has hand-picked us for ugly or oppression is an open door to self-hatred. All hate evolves from there.

Psychologists believe that all forms of hate are a learned trait. At a minimum, hatred must have a source fueling the feeling.

Hatred is not normal. Hating God ultimately ends in hating ourselves. If we hate ourselves, we will hate others. Is hating ourselves and our existence a cause of the extreme hate we see on the world stage?

Absolutely.

Psychology Today reports: “Acts of hate are attempts to distract oneself from feelings such as helplessness, powerlessness, injustice, inadequacy and shame. Hate is grounded in some sense of perceived threat. It is an attitude that can give rise to hostility and aggression toward individuals or groups. Like much of anger, it is a reaction to and distraction from some form of inner pain. The individual consumed by hate may believe that the only way to regain some sense of power over his or her pain is to preemptively strike out at others. In this context, each moment of hate is a temporary reprieve from inner suffering.”

Life is uncertain on many fronts. Broken homes, broken relationships and broken dreams leave us defeated and disappointed. Hate grows.

A 2010 study by Stanford University researchers Elissa Lee and Laura Leets tells us more. They measured teenagers’ reactions to hate groups and found that storytelling with implicit hate messages, rather than direct exhortations to hate, is the most effective way to persuade impressionable minds.

The answer to why we hate, according to Silvia Dutchevici, president and founder of the Critical Therapy Center, lies not only in our psychological makeup or family history but also in our cultural and political history. “We live in a war culture that promotes violence, in which competition is a way of life,” she says. “We fear connecting because it requires us to reveal something about ourselves. We are taught to hate the enemy — meaning anyone different than us — which leaves little room for vulnerability and an exploration of hate through empathetic discourse and understanding. In our current society, one is more ready to fight than to resolve conflict."

As people of faith, we must reverse this trend.

Only God can heal our broken hearts. Only God can turn hatred around. Injustice is real. Everyone is not good. But God is good, and He can heal our hatred of self and life. "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” (I John 4:7)

We must find God’s love. Then we must learn to love ourselves the way God designed.

Loving ourselves is not selfish. Loving ourselves means loving God first. That is the path to loving others. Hate cannot abide where love lives. If we are born of God, love rules and reigns in our lives.

If we hate our lives because of how God made us, then we must allow God to use what He made.

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said he had decided to stick with love because hate was too great a burden to bear.

Accept that and the hate is arrested.

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