The world can be a scary place
With things we’ll never understand.
That’s when hatred will take command
Unless we give love the upper hand.

That’s part of a poem I wrote for my first grandchild. While most of the poem was written shortly after Izzy was born in 2000, that stanza was added a year later – after 9/11 when I was trying to make sense of the world my grandchildren would be growing up in.

Our world has become even scarier in the 20 years since Izzy was born. Whereas the shock of 9/11 united us for a time, we’ve let hatred take command in the years since then. We encounter it everywhere – in politics, from our entertainers and other “influencers,” and especially in social media. We let it decide our friendships, guide our thinking and determine our “truth.”

In short, we are saturated in hatred.

And we’re suffering the consequences. Because of hatred, a pandemic that should unite us and wrongful shootings that should bring us together in the cause of justice are literally igniting more hatred and destruction.

We have two choices. We can continue to feed the hatred. Or we can turn it back by living out love.

What does that mean?

For me, to #LiveOutLove is to live life deliberately. Thoughtfully. Treasuring every day of it, whatever that day may bring. Seeing each moment as a gift from God.

It’s knowing that life isn’t all about me. Understanding that the world doesn’t revolve around me and what I want or think I “deserve.” Recognizing that I’m just one part of God’s marvelous creation. So it’s not just about my “rights”; I share this space with others.

To live out love is to meet hatred and ugliness with kindness. To reach out compassionately in response to apathy, indifference or loneliness. To choose to think and act out of the love that shines from God’s steadfast truth, instead of being pulled down by the hatred.

Whether we agree or agree to disagree, as my dad would say, my wish – my prayer – for each of you is the same as I wrote for Izzy all those years ago when hatred toppled the towers and fear gripped our land:

When anger, fear, and hope collide,
There’s no need to run and hide.
That’s when you’ll stretch to hero height –
That’s when you’ll become a man.

My little one, my grandson,
I wish for you tonight
All the wonders of the universe,
All the miracles of life.

May you reach all your dreams on tippy-toe,
May you live to see your children grow.
May you always hold your head up high
When you take the measure of your life.