“I love you enough to let you hate me forever.”
I’ve loved oxymorons ever since I first learned about them in middle or high school. Posting this on Valentine’s Day just ices the cake for me! And no, there is nothing romantic about this post. I’m focusing on a different kind of love.
Choosing this “tough love” attitude — letting someone hate me forever — as a life philosophy has caused me quite a bit of pain. I am still old school enough to believe that God has given us moral absolutes. In fact, I know He has. I know because I have lived them and seen the good benefits in my life. I know because I have learned how to listen to the Holy Spirit, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, I have a firm witness that God lives and He has given us commandments and moral edicts to help us successfully navigate this life.
In short, I cannot buy into the politically correct philosophy that each person has the right to set their own morality. True, each person has the right to choose the moral code by which he or she will live, but no one is free to choose the consequences of his or her personal codes.
Facebook is possibly the most visible arena where the consequences of my choice arise. I have been “unfriended” and “unfollowed.” That was pretty easy to take. I have been labeled a bigot, a hater, intolerant — usually by “friends of friends” who don’t stop to think that the mutual friend sees me in a much different light. When it feels like I am standing alone, the onslaught hurts. I stand by my convictions because I love my Savior and I love my fellow men enough to be willing to point out the truth even when it hurts.
I love them enough to let them hate me.
I’ve had to make this decision in my family. One-by-one, each of my three children chose to leave my home and live with their father, who doesn’t even pretend to share my religious convictions. In fact, I had to parent most of their childhood through charges that my rules and expectations were abusive and controlling. Leaving aside the arguments and outrage over the kind of father that would deliberately plant these kinds of ideas in his children, I’ll make the point that I was left in a very tough position. As my children matured, they learned how to use school employees and government agencies to try to “free” themselves from the “horrendous suffering” they were experiencing at my hands.
Each time I had to make the decision, I hurt deeply enough to momentarily contemplate self-harm. I fell into depression for a while, but I made the choice anyway. Knowing full well that my children would “choose” to end their relationship with me when they went to live with their father, I let them go. (Ok, so I didn’t get graceful about it until my youngest, but I let them go!) My predictions have been proven to be accurately prophetic, I have very limited contact with my kids. In the end, I am grateful that I let them go, because it was the only way to get them out of the middle of the battle and to prevent them from making even more drastic choices than they had been making — possibly choices that could have had devastating effects on their lives.
I love them enough to let them hate me forever, if that’s what they need in life.
The experience that surprised me the most was when a friend confided some very deep things in me because I was a “safe’ person. I must confess that her side of the story differs radically from mine, and there is truth in what she would tell you. I am still working to overcome bad habits of a lifetime and said and did some shamefully mean things when my feelings got hurt.
My side of the story is that I wanted desperately to show her the only way to rid herself of the burden she was carrying. I know, from personal experience, how hard it is to start the process and how much it hurts in the beginning. However, I also know that the end result is peace and happiness unlike anything I could imagine while I was loaded down with the weight of my poor choices.
As you know from reading my blog, I’m not always the most eloquent person, and my attempts to share the many aspects of the Father’s love and expectations as I understand them were met with accusations of being judgmental, intolerant, and harsh. In the end, I was met with total rejection. Yes, it hurt a lot, but I couldn’t back down from the principles I know are true. It took a long time, but I finally learned to leave things alone and let her live her life making the choices she feels are best.
Like my children, I love her enough to let her hate me forever, if necessary, because I know the message I was attempting to send was what she needed to hear.
Through experiences like these, I have learned how difficult it can be to live up to God’s standards with integrity while feeling compassion for everyone around me. I’ve made the mistake of thinking that if I were doing it all right, I would live in peace and harmony with every individual I meet. I’m becoming convinced that the best I can hope for is to never deliberately intend offense — I really can’t control how someone reacts to my moral code. I can, however, love them regardless of their response.