I usually chuckle a bit when an atheist “kindly” tells me that I am not a sinner, and that the Lord I serve is hatefully judgmental with an axe to grind against humanity. I laugh because not only has God shown me the opposite is His nature, but because I am all too familiar with judgment and hatred from the mouths and actions of people. Gossip, misanthropy, bitterness – I’ve had quite the intimate past with those three.
Misanthropy is a popular trend among my fellow millennials, a trend I used to follow pretty religiously. I don’t mean this unkindly, but it’s basically a bunch of lazy brats taking one look at the world and the evil around them and deciding, rather than try to change it, they will simply resign themselves to stay back and watch in sadistic, vengeful amusement as humanity quarrels with itself.
Misanthropy is ironically a quite self-righteous ideology. My old friends and I used to think ourselves better for simply admitting, “Well, we’re *ssholes, but everyone else is, too, so it doesn’t matter. Anyone who tries to be good is just hiding ulterior motives, and they’re wasting their time.” We believed we were 100% justified in spending our time smack-talking guys and gals alike and laughing at their shortcomings. We would brainstorm the wittiest, sharpest insults, and wait for an opportunity to use them. In fact, I went into my first year of high school determined to at least punch a guy once, square in the jaw. I was only waiting for opportunity and motive. Alas, it never happened (which in hindsight I’m quite thankful for), but I still dreamed.
Forget me being a Christian now for a second. If someone had met me before I turned to Christ and looked me straight in the eye and said, “No one is a sinner,” my cackles would have reverberated around the room accompanied by a string of curses over how “effing stupid” and naive they were. I knew, long before Jesus brought me back to Him, that no one was innocent, no, not one.
I made it a hobby, for crying out loud, to look for all the bad things people did so I could call them a hypocrite when they tried to be nice to me. I even mused over the deeds of my own friends, how they would gossip about one another to me behind each others’ backs. I even entertained the idea that perhaps they’d said a rude thing or two about me before.
No, I know all too well how much pain we are capable of putting others through. Sure, we can try to justify it away and make excuses, but pain is pain.
Why, you might wonder, was I a misanthropist? Well, I can assure you I was far from an extremist. I was an awkward, clumsy, shy girl, who couldn’t fit in with the mainstream, and as such I felt like other people were unwelcoming me and leaving me out. So I decided to become bitter and hang with all the other bitter people, rather than put on a brave face and make some nicer friends. I felt like everyone else was to blame for purposefully excluding me and so I decided to hate them.
The cycle went like this: I felt like I was an outcast, so I hated “normal” people. My general bitterness made me more unlikeable, so I felt like more of an outcast. Feeling like more of an outcast then made my hatred towards others increase. I somehow hated people while simultaneously wanting to be everyone’s friend.
The bitterness and the satisfaction I had from feeling different, and thus, “above” other people never lasted very long. Every once in a while I would contemplate my life and break down into a desperate sob. I would then be determined to be sociable and friendly the next day to make up for it, but I was set in my ways. Every little snub or haughty look made me crawl back into my defensive shield of resentment.
I was sick of it all. The bitterness, the backstabbing, the gossip, the arrogance, the loneliness. I felt like I had nowhere to go. Even my friends could change their loyalties, decide I was too sensitive or too soft, and abandon me. I wallowed in depression for a while.
Then, as the “cliche” (though everyone experiences it differently) goes, I met Jesus through desperate searching online. I found the Truth, and it made so much sense to me. It clicked like nothing else clicked for me before, having a way of thinking where nothing was ever “quite right” in my eyes. He was perfection, and He was love, and most importantly, He was friendship.
Jesus is my model for forgiveness, for loving others, for making friends. He was the first friend I ever made where I didn’t have to meet His standard or make a good first impression. He took me for all I am and for all I am not. He broke through every wall of pride and resentment, every scathing remark, every witty retort I had. He knew even more than I did about all the sins of mankind, and yet unlike me, He still loved us. He is still willing to forgive.
Jesus has billions of reasons to be a misanthropist, the recollection of hundreds of wars, countless cases of abuse, even having experienced Himself torture at the hands of men. But He’s not. That’s what makes His love and His mercy so profound.