“Sometimes it feels like love is really close to hate,” she said.
She was a young girl, newly married, talking to me about how often she fought with her husband. “It’s like one minute, I can’t contain these gushy feelings for him and then the next second… I want to punch him in the face.”
I nodded, even though I didn’t fully understand what she meant. I wasn’t married at the time. I wasn’t even dating anyone. Love is close to hate? I thought to myself. Aren’t those two things supposed to be opposite?
That was four years ago and since then, I’ve thought about those words a lot. I’ve thought about them as my dating relationship became more serious, when I met my husband, during our engagement and especially, now that we’re married.
Today, six months into marriage, I get it. I’m not confused anymore.
I understand what she meant.
I love my husband. More than I can explain. But there’s also something about him. Not him like he’s a bad guy or something, just him — the person who knows me the best, who sees me at my worst, who has a first row seat to my brokenness — that gets under my skin.
It’s not a bad thing. In fact, I’m finding that it can actually be a good thing. If I look at it in the right way.
Here’s the way I’m looking at it lately.
I’m starting to wonder if the spectrum of love-to-hate isn’t a straight line like I thought it was, where “love” (as in the gushy feelings I feel for a person) and “hate” (the I-want-to-punch-you feelings) exist on opposite ends of a long, straight line. I’m starting to wonder if the line bends, and love and hate (at opposite ends of the line) are right next to each other, at the top of a circle?
Go with me on this.
I’m starting to wonder if God does this on purpose.
The other day my husband said, “God gave you to me on purpose,” and I asked him why he thought that. He said, “Because, you teach me more than anyone else could ever teach me. That is, if I’m willing to listen.”
I wonder how many things God has tried to teach me through my husband that I’ve completely missed because I wasn’t willing to listen.
What I’m learning through all of this is how to live my life “palms up.”
I got the idea from a book I recently finished called Love Does by Bob Goff. He writes a whole chapter about this approach to life. He says that sometimes we think we’ll get the most out of life with clenched fists, but that when it really comes down to it, clenched fists not only get us into trouble (think about the posture of fighting) they also prevent us from receiving blessing.
My husband and I have decided to intentionally take this posture to life, to our marriage. We’re putting our fists away. That means anytime we start to argue, either one of us can call a truce by saying these two words: Palms up. Then, literally (no, I’m not joking) we have the rest of our conversation with our palms pointed toward the sky.
Go ahead. Try to fight with someone when you’re sitting that way. I dare you.
You won’t be able to do it.
Like Bob Goff suggests, there’s some special connection between the posture of our hearts and the posture of our bodies.
Here’s the thing. I don’t think that this is just marriage advice.
Think about it. In Matthew Jesus gives his Sermon on the Mount and he teaches people, “You have heard it said to love your neighbor and hate your enemy, but I tell you love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you.
A few verses later he finishes with this zinger: “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?”
What would our life look like if we lived “Palms Up”?
What would happen if we loved our enemies as much as we did our friends? What would happen if we prayed for those who persecuted us? How much would we learn about ourselves, and the heart of God, if we always (even when we were “right”) took the posture of humility?
How quickly would we usher in the Kingdom of Heaven?
What would happen if, when we felt like hating someone, we decided to love instead?
After all, the two are right next to each other. All we have to do is turn around and face the other direction.