Love Your Enemies (i.e. Love Yourself)

Have you ever noticed that people hate the same qualities in other people that they themselves have?

Bossy people can’t stand other bossy people. Nosy people are irritated by other nosy people. Hyper-sensitive people seem to lack patience with others.

You shake your head and think, “you just can’t make this stuff up!”

Psychologists call this behavior projection. It is only one of many dysfunctional habits, but in my experience, it’s positively uncanny how I see it just about everywhere.

Eastern religions would classify this under the energetic relationships of “karma.” I think they are onto something. These patterns run like clockwork, and they are as predictable as Newton’s Laws of Physics.

This form of projection helps me to understand the command of Jesus to “love your enemies” (Luke 6:28; Matthew 5:44)

You should love your enemies, because your true enemy is yourself. The qualities in others that offend you so much are keys to missing pieces of yourself.

We like to portray a glossy picture of ourselves—whether it’s our resume, online dating profile or Facebook page. But those documents rarely tell the full story of who we are. It’s easier to think about the qualities that we like and ignore our less than noble features.

When we hate other people, there is a reason why they irk us so much and get under our skin. There’s some unfinished emotional business there. We may try to disassociate ourselves from the parts we don’t like to admit that we have and project those traits onto others, instead. It’s a form of denial.

The people who offend us offer us a key to our own wholeness. Because if it is true that our hatred of others is a projection of our own internal baggage, then when we attempt to cut ourselves off from them, we are also cutting ourselves off from a part of ourselves—a messy, dark, dirty part of ourselves, but a part nonetheless. We can’t be truly whole unless, by definition, we accept each and every part of ourselves. And in accepting those pieces, we find wholeness—Shalom—Peace—A peace that surpasses all understanding.

You cannot hate someone without turning into them. Even if your dislike others else does not start off as a projection of yourself, if you continue the process of hatred, you will eventually turn into them—at least, the qualities in them that you hate. It’s Greek Tragedy. It’s what happened to Darth Vader. You are what you hate. The only way out of this inevitable trap is to not hate them: Love your enemies. Do good to those who hurt you. Prayer for those who persecute you. It all makes sense. Hated will take control over you, which is why love is the path of true freedom.

Jesus brings us to a unity that is both cosmic and microscopic, external and internal. Yes, Jesus is calling all of creation into oneness. But in doing so, let’s not forget he is also calling each individual person into wholeness with her or himself in the process.

Our enemies always tell us something about ourselves. Therapists and other healers know that our enemies are always a key to our own growth. Our enemies are our best teachers.

Separation is myth. Oneness is the ultimate reality that Jesus pointed toward. That truth is evident in many shapes and ways, but to me our tendency to project our self hatred onto others shows me the wisdom of Jesus.

I will be further exploring these topics in upcoming posts, stay tuned!

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