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     There was a tragic story here in Pittsburgh in the last couple of weeks.  A man on his bicycle was viciously attacked with a knife, stabbed and cut.  He miraculously survived and spoke at a local church this past Sunday.  He said (from what I’ve been told.  Full disclosure, I wasn’t there), “Thank you for your prayers but please, I’m ok.  Pray for him (the man who attacked him).  I’m fine, I haven’t had one nightmare or lost any sleep.  He is the one that needs to be lifted up in prayer.  This must be haunting him.  What anger he must have inside of him that would cause him to do this.”  Wow.  I mean, is he really ok?  Is he really fine?  Either way, for him to utter such words is incredible.  How can he be burdened for someone who did THAT to him?  I will tell you this, I think I get it.
     You see, I don’t hate anymore.  I mean that.  Sin, specifically the sin in me that I commit, is the only thing I hate (and I get not only permission in the bible to do that but direction to do it).  It has been a gradual progression over the years that has drastically been increased by our recent trials and tribulations.  Now, when I say “hate”, what do I mean.  Don’t out think the room here folks.  I mean, I don’t hate.  Allow me to explain through examples.
     The easiest analogy is sports.  How can you not “hate” your biggest rival?  The way their players are dirty, their fans are nasty and have no class, the way the media bends over backwards to lift them up while they ignore your team?  You get that horrific knot in your stomach when they play your team with even the thought that you could lose…TO THEM!  Meh, I mean, I still want to win but if they beat us or we lose to them (there is a difference) well, good for them or shame on us.  If I lived in that city or went/worked for that school I would be rooting for them.  So what’s the difference?  Don’t get me wrong.  The Penguins losing to the Flyers was my final exam in my “I don’t hate…including sports teams” final exam.  I got a D (I still wanted them to lose badly in the next round and didn’t listen to local sports radio for a week) but I passed.  They won, we lost, that’s it.  I’m pretty sure they don’t lose sleep when I have a bad day of work.  I’ll sleep just fine when they don’t work well either.
     Another is past hurts.  A few years ago a former player of mine wrote an article about me in the student newspaper.  Beyond being inaccurate and filled with subjective opinion rather than objective data, it was flawed in numerous ways from a journalism perspective.  It turns out that the teacher who sponsored the paper had a grudge against me and thus permitted the article to be written and printed.  Not only did I not remember what the grudge was about, I had no clue who this teacher was.  So, did I drip with hate when the article came out?  No.  Did I allow my players to write scathing letters to the editor and a rebuttal article?  No.  Did I run to the teachers/administrators/school board members and make sure my name was clear?  No.  All I did was tell our players and coaches to stay above reproach, to be blameless through this time.  My girls never looked classier and I’ve never had more people come to my defense.  Looking back do I hate over the issue?  No, I still don’t know the teachers name and I’ve had the opportunity to love and serve the student who wrote the article…happy to do it.
     The other day I was listening to a show on XM radio.  They were interviewing a comedian and totally bashing a talk show host that I like.  It was typical ignorant talking points and frankly easy pickings.  Rather than get angry and change the channel I paused.  They were wrong, they were misinformed, they certainly didn’t agree with my point of view.  Yet, I laughed.  I appreciated the humor with which they told their story and some of the observations that they made.  I was kind of sad for them that they just follow the pack in regards to “hating on my guy” but they did make me laugh…good for them.
     More recently, over the past 5 or so years, I have experienced some pretty disappointing relationships that ended badly…to say the least.  Some were individuals, others more of a collective group of folks.  In some instances things didn’t go my way and could have been handled differently…way differently that would have impacted us (my family) in a far less damaging way.  In another instance it was downright betrayal by a close friend.  I remember being sad that I didn’t “exact revenge” as no one would have blamed me.  Yet, I did not, it wasn’t in my heart to do so…dadgummit.  Do I hate any of the above?  No, really I don’t.  I was thinking and praying the other day, well more thinking than praying (footnote to my good friend Ryan Lowe who coined that oh so very accurate tag line) that in fact, I’ve got some more healing to do as evidenced by some snide thoughts and comments I make about the above situations…but I’m far from hating.
     Why the lack of hate?  I suppose it’s a result of experience, lack of margin, and pragmatism.  Experience, nothing is as bad as it seems and you are not as right as you suppose.  Lack of margin, in this stage of life I have neither the physical or emotional margin to fill my head and heart with the burden of hate.  Pragmatism, it’s simply not practical.  It really doesn’t make much sense.  It does hurt you more than the offender.  It does fill your heart with darkness rather than light.  It does change who you are rather than the object of your hatred.  It is a tool used by those trying to manipulate you.  No, I shall not play that game.
     So, am I beaten down and incapable of fighting for myself?  No.  Quite the contrary, I’ve evolved to a healthy place.  Maybe you’re thinking, “Cancer!  He must hate cancer.”  You know, I’m not sure I do.  Better Trey should have disease XYZ or get hit by a falling meteor?  Again, I have seen God do far too much and demonstrate His Love in way too many facets of our life to focus on hatred for what has happened to us rather than His goodness that never ceases.

Now, when my fantasy football team loses, that’s another thing…I hate them with a fury of a thousand suns.  Yet, I digress.

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