Love Will Always Triumph Over Hate

September 11, 2017

I was recently in New York City; and for the first time in sixteen years I had the desire to see the place where the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 took place.

I thought to myself, “I’m ready to see Ground Zero. I’m ready to really remember the emotions my 13-year-old heart experienced the day terrorists tried to destroy my homeland. I’m really ready to pay honor to the people who lived that day unlike most + tribute to the people who lost their lives. I’m ready.”

Because all the other times I had been to New York? I hadn’t been ready. I knew my heart + mind would be unable to process the hatred that caused 9/11.

What I discovered, though, was that I still wasn’t ready — because how can you ever truly be ready to look hatred in the face?

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

{I John 4:20, KJV}

I walked around One World Trade Center + 9/11 Memorial in awe of the pool, saddened at all the names who perished engraved into the hard marble, proud of the people who made such a lovely Memorial possible, thankful for the opportunity to be there. My friends + I asked a stranger to take our photo. We marveled at “this is the place.”

But then we walked inside the memorial.

I saw the remnants of stairs that had been used as an escape by people inside one of the towers. I saw a crushed fire truck that was supposed to have rescued people, but instead the brave men inside the truck perished themselves when the tower collapsed. I heard snippets of voicemails; men calling their wives + saying ‘I love you’ for the last time. I saw broken high heeled shoes that walked where no shoes should have to walk. I saw the FBI + CIA reports that identified the people responsible for the attacks. I heard names called out of small children — innocent babies — who died because of hatred so deep it literally killed.

I broke. I sobbed. All the memories those people never got to have. All the life they never got to live. All the joy they never got to share. I wasn’t strong enough to handle it.

And we shouldn’t be strong enough to handle hatred. Hatred isn’t something to be tolerated, to be welcomed, to be exalted. Hatred is unnatural, inhumane, and not of God. And because God is love, love will always triumph over hatred.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

{I Corinthians 13, ESV}

Love is so precious: it’s so necessary, so redeemable, so powerful. And if hatred so strong exists in our to cause 9/11 and events similar, how much more powerful is love — and not just humanitarian love, but the love of God?

May we never forget:

not just 9/11, but how that hatred destroys.

May we always remember:

the greatest of these is love.

Images from my day in NYC by Grow Lovely Photography + Films