My daughter, Bernette Sherman, asked me to write this piece for her website For Pearls. Can we have fear and have love at the same time? This search for love without fear will lead you back to your own heart.
What if hate was really fear in disguise? What if the opposite of love was fear rather than hate? Could we then love what we fear?
The first consideration with the above questions needs to be that, all the things that we feel are felt on the inside of us. Dr. Joe Vitale talks about this in his book, “The Zero Point.” So what I feel comes from deep within me even if I feel the same thing that you do. It is still inside of me. If it was not inside of me, I could not feel it. My feelings come out of an allowing of my emotions to connect with a thought about either something within me or my judgment on something outside of me.
Everyone wants love and wants to be loved. The search seems to go on for most of our lives. We search for it in our mates and partners. We search for it in our children. We search for it in our pets, our careers, our hobbies, our churches, adventures, beautiful places…. The search goes on and on. It is not until we search for it within ourselves that we actually find it in the world. Our world, the people in our lives, our hobbies and past-times, and all of the things we enjoy reflect back to us the love that we have within us.
It has been my lifelong understanding that the things I do not love are the things that I hate or have a strong dislike for. I recall experiences as a child living at the brunt of other culture’s hate. Today I understand it in a different context. I do not hate them for what seemed like their hate for me. I no longer believe that hate is truly hate. Until now this understanding had escaped me. I was aware of both sides of the understanding but never was able to bring it together.
We use the term hate to describe our feelings about things we strongly dislike. But when we ask ourselves why we dislike someone or something so strongly, there is a deeper emotion. If I believe someone or something might hurt or harm me, fear is generated within me. If I cannot trust it, I must put it in a safe place in my being (mind and emotions). I call this category hate because it is easier to express than fear. Everyone identifies with hate. However, if I say I fear it, an explanation seems to be needed or justification seems to be expected.
So when I think of those experiences of hatred growing up, I see then as expressions of fear of an unknowing. It is a fear of trusting what was not understood. The scriptures say that there is no fear in love. If all feelings are from within me, and I love from within, I won’t project fear in the disguise of hate from within, but will project love. My fears of being hurt, fear of being misunderstood, fears of being rejected, etc. are all inside of me. The spaces inside that are filled with fears cannot at the same time be filled with love. The same scriptures that says there is no fear in love also says perfected love removes fear.
What love is this that casts out fear? Self-love casts out fear. I know some would say God’s love casts out fear. But I say self-love because many/most understand and know or believe God loves us and therefore accepts God’s love. However, we still have fears. We still strongly dislike others. And because all that we feel comes from within us, we cannot send out what we don’t have within us. If we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves then the first love is self-love. Can I love others more than I love myself? I believe my love toward others is only a reflection of the love that I have for myself or a lack of it. I can only give from within what I have from within.
As I grow and unconditionally accept and love myself, I grow to unconditionally accept and love others. Through this reflection or viewing of my fellowman, I will only see what I project of myself. I can only project that is within me. My fellowman is my mirror. I only see within them what is being projected from within me. As I judge what I am seeing in them, I judge myself. As I see and feel love within myself, I see and feel love for them.
The search for love does not start with getting love from my partner, getting love from my children or my pets. The search for love is a conscious effort of choice to love and accept myself unconditionally without judgement. When we come to understand “The Greatest Love of all,” as Whitney Houston sang, “Is inside of me. Then learning to love yourself will be
the greatest love of all.”