SPEAK: Love By the Spirit – The Opposite of Love…

SPEAK! … By the Spirit™ with
Erica A. Hawthorne

The Opposite of Love…

© 2011 Erica A. Hawthorne

February 4, 2011

photo by PhillySoul11

The pastor cleared his throat and shifted his weight again.  He looked up from his notes and let his gaze fall intentionally upon each young face in the crowd.  The room filled with sounds of pages fluttering and nervous rounds of “ums” and well-meaning starts of sentences like “Well, I think it’s like…” but falling off towards the end as the speaker realized they were still quite unsure of the answer posed to them.

He had taught them to think quite well, to ponder all of the possibilities, to consider the biblical viewpoint and example.  But this was not one of those moments that required such examination.  The answer the pastor posed to his mostly 20- and 30-something group, had a much more simple answer.

He straightened his stance in the pulpit, gripping both sides of the stand with his long nimble hands, his fingertips rubbing along the cherry wood frame. He met the gaze of the last pupil, in the far most row, sitting deep in contemplation.

“I will ask again,” he said.  “What is the opposite of Love?”

He had already given prompt “no’s” to answers of “hate” and “anger”.  Although each answer was accompanied by great points to support their answer, each congregation member was met with the same shake of head, and intent gaze meant to encourage another try.

“The opposite of Love,” quipped the pastor, realizing the answer may be further off than necessary, “is Fear.”

He looked over his reading glasses to find the faces relax from being let off the hook, but quickly replaced by thoughtful pondering.

“Fear is the opposite and absence of Love.  Love cannot be present where Fear has taken hold.  If you think about it, all of the answers given earlier, arise from Fear.”

This was one of the most moving bible study classes I attended at my church.  The moment has remained with me ever since.  As I grow in understanding of Love, it has been knowing securely what it is not that has helped me correct notions of unlovingness in my life.

Anger is Fear…and Fear is the opposite of Love

Blog writer, Megan McKenna writes “Among counselors, spiritual directors and therapists it is commonly accepted that anger is fear turned outward…”

Anger, she says is what we “use as defense or offense as we perceive we are in danger.”  But the key is that anger, turned fear, is what happens “when it is not acknowledged or accepted.”

No one is saying to stomp around mad, throwing around your anger as proof that you are not succumbing to the fear of being attacked, but rather seeing it, as it is, and dealing with the anger from that very point.

“I am not in danger, I am not pleased, and I have all the tools I need to speak up for myself,  or act on my behalf, making anger no longer needed,” is a much more healing and active approach to dealing with anger.

Hate is Fear…and Fear is the opposite of Love

“Hatred is the coward’s revenge for being intimidated.”
George Bernard Shaw

Hate is a strong emotion, that is usually rooted in misunderstanding or ignorance.  Many times it’s based in the fear that what we don’t understand can harm us, or can somehow undo our ability to be happy or live full, complete lives.

It sounds silly and easy to believe as untrue when you read it.  But in the midst of prejudice or hate-filled speech, it takes a breathe or two to offer Love into the space…in our own lives, or towards another.


The challenge…if we choose to accept it…is to release Fear in exchange of Love, to see Love in all things, to see that what Spirit wants most for us is that we live in Love…the wonderful and necessary opposite of living with Fear.

Let the journey continue…


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