From obsessive hatred to a healing love
Sometimes in our lives, we encounter the wrong that people do, and we react strongly against it. We can even find ourselves hating someone for their actions.
Is hating a person ever a right response? No. Christ Jesus’ admonition to “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” (Matthew 5:44) leaves no room for doubt as to how hate must be addressed. The spiritual authority behind these words is the Christ, the message of God’s infinite love for all of us, which meets the human need. And with it, Jesus healed all kinds of moral and physical suffering.
When we submit to hatred in any form, whether selfishness, discrimination, or revenge, it is detrimental, both to our own health and to the progress of society. Aggression can blind us to love. But the nature of God as Love and eternal good is the real, spiritual nature of all of us. As God’s creation, we are the very expression of divine Love. And we can truly live this love and let it uplift our experience wherever needed. Through God’s love we can keep hatred from taking root in our thinking.
Some years ago, when I was a new student of Christian Science—which is founded on the inspired truths of the Bible and Jesus’ teachings—I learned more profoundly what it teaches about the power of God as divine Love. One morning a neighbor knocked on my door, urgently asking me if I could drive him somewhere. I asked him if he had friends or family who could help him. When he said that he had no other options, I agreed to help him, although he didn’t give me any details.
After stopping and waiting at several locations over the course of a few hours, he was getting desperate, and I was becoming exasperated. We were both on edge, and our conversation became even more tense. In a heated discussion, he finally confessed that he was involved in trafficking young women from other countries, without their knowledge or consent, to work in prostitution clubs. My anger toward this man and the illegal and cruel work he was doing was so overwhelming that I kicked him out of my car and left him in the middle of the road. I was a law enforcement officer at the time, and I promptly reported where the trafficking was taking place and told them where my neighbor was living.
After this incident, I couldn’t stop the thoughts of anger and resentment toward my neighbor. They were obsessive, and I couldn’t free myself from them. I became physically ill, and over the next few weeks was unable to work or to eat or rest very much. The policy at my job required that I get a document from a doctor stating why I couldn’t work. The doctor who examined me told me to admit myself to the hospital immediately because of how long I had been experiencing a high fever. He diagnosed me with peritonitis and a type of exhaustion resulting from lack of nourishment.
I had already had many proofs of the healing power of God through Christian Science. Therefore, I decided to ask for the prayers of a Christian Science practitioner to help me recognize my true, spiritual selfhood in the likeness of God, divine Spirit—pure, whole, and free, and without any element of hatred or materiality. She comforted me by assuring me that God is Love and that Love’s presence is with me. She said that God loves me and takes care of me.
How powerful is the love of God!
I spent the next three days feeding my thoughts with comforting ideas from the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science. In difficult moments, I called the practitioner, who continued to encourage me with the spiritual fact that God is Love, is always present in my life, and was taking care of me right then. In spite of this encouragement, I felt I was dying.
One night, feeling in such anguish, I turned to God with all my heart and said, “Father, show me the love You feel for me.” Immediately, I felt directed to open the Bible to I Corinthians 13, which was written by the Apostle Paul, a follower of Jesus’ teachings. Paul’s words showed clearly that because God is Love, He includes no ill will, is never irritated, never keeps an account of wrongdoing. Love is patient and always giving. Love doesn’t feel satisfaction in thinking about the faults or struggles of others, but feels only joy in what is true. I also glimpsed that Love never stops revealing itself.
Tears came because of the hardness and self-righteousness I had kept in my heart about this man. These feelings had left no space at all for love. Mrs. Eddy wrote in Science and Health: “He that touches the hem of Christ’s robe and masters his mortal beliefs, animality, and hate, rejoices in the proof of healing,—in a sweet and certain sense that God is Love” (p. 569). I completely yielded to God’s love as the only governing power over both this man and me, in which is no bitterness to dominate. I began to feel a profound peace, and slept until the next morning. When I woke up, I felt like a new person. I was so grateful to God for showing me His love for me through this healing. When I returned to the doctor who had examined me, he was very surprised at my rapid recovery. He gave me a clean bill of health to work again. How powerful is the love of God!
Over the next month, I didn’t see my neighbor, but the authorities informed me that he had played only a minor role in the awful criminal activity. I also learned from the police in charge of investigating human trafficking that they made many raids based on the information I had given them. They were able to dismantle a number of these sex trafficking groups, especially in the country’s capital city.
When I saw my neighbor again, he was with his wife and children and told me how sorry he was for his actions. He explained that, being unable to make his mortgage payments, he had felt forced into criminal activity. He told me that he was now working as a plumber in the apartment building and that his wife and children had returned to him after he promised to lead a decent life. From what I could see from his actions the following year, he appeared to be doing that.
The doctors couldn’t find any trace of the previously diagnosed symptoms.
This experience helped me see that even those who are moved by wrong motives to oppress or harm others can feel God’s love for them and be redeemed. The ever-present Christ can free them from hateful and evil influences. As I identified myself with divine Love as my only source, I could see clearly that my neighbor couldn’t be separated from Love either. The bad behavior didn’t come from God and therefore couldn’t be a part of this man’s identity. Not long after that, we became friends.
About a year later, his wife asked me to drive my friend to the hospital. This time, I was more than happy to help. His wife told me that he had been diagnosed with a heart condition and was experiencing symptoms of a heart attack. While I was driving him, he asked me to help him, because he was in pain. I prayed to God to help me know that this man’s spiritual identity was the full expression of right ideas and that he was embraced and cared for by divine Love. I had absolute conviction that this was the structure of his being, and he soon went to sleep. When we arrived at the hospital, the doctors examined him and couldn’t find any trace of the diagnosis that they had on record for him. He was completely fine, and I took him home to a very happy family.
The purpose of Love is to show forth the allness of God’s goodness and the powerlessness of evil. This continuous revelation in human consciousness corrects all manifestations of hatred with the reality of harmony—the only reality we truly have. And no one is excluded from this blessing.