I hate you.

My two year old, Wesley, is hilarious; destructively, stubbornly, illogically, curiously, maddeningly adorably hilarious. Given, most 2 year olds are hilarious with a good dose of perspective.

But today as we were driving along in my rockin’ minivan, I glanced in my rearview mirror at Wesley, and with a huge grin on his face and with his cute little voice that is beginning to form sentences he softly said, “I hate you.”  To say that his face and his words didn’t match is an understatement. Hilarity was not the first thing that struck me.

More like sadness. Not because he meant what he said. For all he knew, he could have been saying “Toads are purple.” But he did know that those 3 little words strung together got a reaction out of me.

I responded, “No, Wesley, we do not say that! I love you, buddy!” {Oh the subtleties of “demonstrating” right behavior!}

And with a little grin that said, you can’t reach me back here in my chariot of a car seat, he repeated “I hate you.”

My next response was anger. Anger aimed toward whomever had taught him these wretched words.  Bennett, his 5 year old brother, had dropped this “I hate you” line a few times when I had said “no” to movies or lollipops at 8am, and those words had swiftly been met with soap in the mouth. Yes, I am old school. And yes, it was organic.  And now my little number 3, a mimicker of extraordinary proportion, was parroting his way to an experience with a lavender oatmeal bar.

We happen to discourage the word “hate” in our house, and limit its use to only describe things God actually hates. There are so few words in the English language that have not yet been diluted by our hyperbolic culture. “We cannot hate anything God made or loves!” we have said repeatedly. So food, activities, and especially people are to be respected. And it’s not that we can’t be honest!  “I dislike avocado” will get the point across or, “I prefer eating donuts to homework,” will work perfectly well. I am just saying that hate should be reserved for lying and cheating and hurting and things that actually violate what God loves.

And so after making the case to Bennett that Wesley is watching so carefully and his example has had a sad result,  Bennett realized and said he was so sorry. Then from way in the back of the minivan, Bennett started yelling. “I LOVE YOU!! Say I LOVE YOU, Wesley!”

Wesley was unconvinced and continued to softly say “I hate you.” Giggling.  My face went blank as I decided giving him no response was a better plan, and Bennett continued to yell, “I love you, Mom!”  It was a battle of love and hate. And every so often interspersed in the “I hate you” mantra, Wesley would break form and yell “I love you!” and at that, I would break my stone face and respond in the most exuberant way, “I love you too!”

He repeated this fun little game all the way to our destination: him speaking the three words that brought no reaction until he spoke the 3 words that sprung me to life and response. It was an odd form of peekaboo. Finally, it was so clear that he wanted my eyes and my attention that he dropped the act and my boys and I were all yelling “I LOVE YOU TOO!!” at the top of our lungs to each other repeatedly as I careened down the road. {My eyes were clearly more occupied with my little people than the road at this point. True confession.}

And I sit here, hours later, replaying the scene in my head and can’t help but remember how, every time I heard those awful words coming out of this little man’s mouth and despite desperately trying to have no outward response, inwardly my heart crumbled. I was desperately sad… and so very aware, suddenly, that they are the most unnatural words that could come out of a person, aimed at another person.

We were not made for hate.

We were not made for gossip.

We were not made for judgement.

We were not made for slander.

We were not made for division.

We were made for unity.

We were made for love.

Not the mushy, feel good kind. But the real, life-giving, self-sacrificial, messy, others centered, looking deep into the heart of another and choosing them regardless of differences, of fear, of belief kind of love.

The kind of love that points to Jesus as the source and the answer. Because the love I have to give is a mere shadow of what He has to offer.

Hating anything other than what destroys people, actually destroys people,

I pray that the game is over, this game where my sons say evil things just to elicit a response. But the world is full of lies, many of which will be mimicked in my own home. And I am not so naive to think this is the last battle where love needs to win.

I am just thankful that in the end, I know LOVE DOES WIN.


2 thoughts on “I hate you.

  1. My two brothers and I had a lot of Dial soap in our growing up years.
    Amen, LOVE DOES WIN, now and forever more. Blessings to you all!

    Like

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