How to Overcome Hate

Question from a Site Viewer
I did not have a good relationship with my parents in the past but after I accepted Jesus as my Lord I knew that I had to love and honor my parents. I don’t have problems with my dad, I just don’t have any love for my mom. Every time I try to love or respect her I just cannot do it. I dislike every single thing she does or says. Sometimes I feel that I completely hate her. I want to love her but I am unable. I feel guilty about it because she loves me. This is affecting my spiritual life, my studies and also my character. I cannot seem to overcome my anger. To overcome hate seems impossible.

Tim’s Answer
Thank you for sharing your present struggles with your mom and with anger. How does one overcome hate? I suppose I could give you five simple steps and you would be grateful. But I do not have five simple steps to overcome hate. Ultimately, as with all things that come into life, the answer is to draw close to Christ. The Apostle Paul tells us in Galatians 5:16 that if we walk in the Spirit we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. As we draw closer to Christ and seek to model Him to our world around, these matters recede on their own. Accordingly, rather than give you steps to love your mom and deal with anger, I suggest the following:

  1. Renew your mind. Think about things that are godly. Paul tells us in Romans 12:2 that we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8 that we are to think about things that are pure and lovely. James tells us that the wisdom that comes from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and is sown in peace (James 4:17). Peter tells us in 1 Peter 1:22 that we are to purify our hearts by obeying the truth so that we may love one another without hypocrisy. The author of the book of Hebrews tells us to focus on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). Paul tells us in Colossians 3:1-3 to set our minds on heavenly things, and tells us through the rest of the chapter how to do this. We must always begin by refocusing the mind.

    But what does this look like? If a thought of anger comes into your mind, you need to replace it with a thought of something that is good. Some good replacements are Christian songs, or a verse of Scripture you have memorized. Another good replacement is prayer. If you can turn every angry thought that comes into your mind into a reminder to pray to God for someone else, you will be a long way on the journey to removing those thoughts from your mind.

    If, when thoughts come into our minds, we give those thoughts places in our mind, then we reinforce those thoughts. If we deprive them of space by turning to other thoughts, then we weaken those thoughts. We are not helpless in controlling thoughts. I know, at first, what I am saying may seem like fantasyland. But if you will be on guard for thoughts of anger and the moment they first begin to rise in your mind, you immediately stop and pray to God, asking for His victory and then begin praying for others, or singing a song of praise to God, you will find that in a few months the anger will be largely gone. Do not give place to anger in your mind (Ephesians 5:31-32).

    And in the long run, memorizing Scripture is one of the best ways of overcoming sin (Psalm 119:9-11). The mere work of memorization forces the brain to think in new ways, ways that create the building blocks the Spirit of God uses to reshape our lives. Scripture memorized within us is the Spirit’s tool to change us.

  2. Make a decision to be a blessing to your mom. Your feelings for your mom are ultimately not about her, but about you. Though the actions and words of others may sometimes irritate us, such is true only because we are irritable. I have seen the most obnoxious people be loved by others. I have watched as people have loved those who seem unlovable. It has to do with what is inside us. So, my encouragement to you is not to try to change your mom into someone she is not, but accept her for who she is and choose to be a blessing to her. Take her out for lunch, or go with her to do something she would like to do. Don’t worry what others may think. Just take the time to be with your mom and be intentional about being a blessing to her. Try to be Jesus to her.
  3. Pray for your mom. I mean, really pray. Pray for God’s blessings on your mom’s life. Pray for God’s peace. Pray that God will work through you to show His love to your mom. Give thanks to God for your mom. I know at first this may seem unnatural and somewhat hypocritical. But we do not live by feelings, but by seeking to follow Christ. Some actions are at first a choice of the will to follow Him, then they become actions of the heart. So thank God for your mom. You say that she loves you. That is a great reason to thank God for her. Ultimately, thankful people are not angry people. So practice thanksgiving. Be thankful in everything (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Let your prayers be rich and full with petition to God that He will create a clean heart in you, with intercession for your mom, and with thanksgiving for this chance to learn more about God’s work in your life.
  4. Finally, I think it would be good to talk to your mom and confess to her your sin against her and ask for her forgiveness. I am sure she must feel some of your anger towards her. Don’t talk to her about her faults. And don’t focus on how angry you have been or the depths of your sin. Just tell her that you have been angry with her, and you are very sorry, and that you want to work on having a better relationship with her. When we sin against another, we should confess and seek to repair the relationship. We do not need to go into the pathos of our sin, but simply let the other one know that we have sinned and we seek to live differently. I do not think it is helpful at all to dig up the garbage of our sin in our confession, as such simply gives Satan and our thoughts yet another chance to reseed themselves in our minds. A simple “I have sinned in being angry at you” is enough. And then focus on what you can do to be a better daughter to your mom. Be humble. And God will help you. God gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5).

These are not meant to be steps to follow. There is no necessary order to these. Rather, these practices will build godly character into your life, a closer relationship with the Savior through the Spirit of God, and with that relationship will come love, joy, peace, and all that comes from walking every moment in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25). Remember that at every moment of life we have a choice whether to follow God or follow our own ways. When thoughts come in, we have a choice to make whether we will indulge the thought or whether we will take up the armor to fight against the thought (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). It takes effort to fight the good fight of faith. But if we choose to walk in the Spirit in the moment, we will not sin. If we choose to walk in the flesh, we will sin. So we need to be talking to God all of the time, continuing in fellowship with Him. And, if we happen to give into sin, then we need to confess immediately and start talking to Him again right away. Staying in close contact with Him, no matter what you are doing in life, is the way to avoid sin and love Him.

May the Lord Jesus lead you to triumph as you persevere in overcoming these sin patterns in your life.

a fellow servant,

tim

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