Thursday, February 10, 2011

Welcome to the second Love Beats Hate blogging event! I'm so happy you stopped by today. I have an extraordinary story of love to share with you.

I was introduced to Immaculée Ilibagiza while reading Inspiration: Your Ultimate Calling by Dr. Wayne Dyer. I promptly ordered her book, Left to Tell, and entered Immaculée's heart wrenching experiences during the 1994 Rwanda genocide. The horror of her ordeal is difficult to read; the truth is sickening. Her inspirational message of forgiveness and faith is an extreme example of love prevailing over hate.

Home from university to celebrate Easter, Immaculée awoke to a nightmare. Her family listened in disbelief to the radio reports, their only contact with the outside word. President Habyarimanahe had been murdered and broadcasters called for Hutus to attack and exterminate their Tutsi neighbors. A genocide had begun.

Immaculée fled her home before the savage killers arrived. She and seven other women were hidden in a pastor's tiny bathroom, a mere four feet long and three feet wide. The eight women were confined in this space for three long months. They were cramped together--fearful to move, speak or even breathe. Aware of the brutality just outside the walls, they waited in silence. Bloodthirsty killers searched the home several times, but the women remained undiscovered. The concealed women clung to their only protection--their muted prayers.

As I read her words, I tried to picture myself in this terrifying situation. It was impossible for me to fathom.

The massacre continued as innocent Tutsis were hunted, tortured and slaughtered. Faced with the sadistic murders of her beloved family and friends, Immaculée felt the roots of hatred begin to grow in her heart. She prayed to God, "Please open my heart, Lord, and show me how to forgive. I'm not strong enough to squash my hatred--they've wronged us all so much...my hatred is so heavy that it could crush me. Touch my heart, Lord, and show me how to forgive."

Through steadfast prayer and faith in God, Immaculée achieved the impossible--she forgave her family's killers.

Immaculée made a powerful choice:  She chose love. Though the atrocities she suffered supplied every justification to hate, she embraced love. She fought the venomous power of hate. Armed with love, she escaped imminent death and was left to tell the world her empowering story.

Dr. Wayne Dyer's brilliantly sums up the beauty of her story in the book's foreword:
"Despite the hideous display of humans' inhumanity to each other that was taking place only a decade or so ago in the country of Rwanda, this is truly a love story in the purest sense of the word--a story of the triumph of the human spirit, a story of one woman's profound faith and determination to survive (against literally impossible odds) in order to tell her tale and to be an agent for ushering in a new spiritual consciousness, and a story of a love for God that was so strong that hatred and revenge were forced to dissolve in its presence."

That is the power of Love.

Immaculée's story changed my life as a profound realization came to me. If Immaculée chose love in the midst of a holocaust, then I can easily reject hate in my life. When others spew hate, it is easy to respond with equal venom. My first reaction to hate is usually anger, but if I really think about it, I pity the malevolent person. They must live miserable, lonely lives to subject others to their hatred. Or maybe they loathe themselves, so they project their self-hatred onto others. Hating the haters serves to breed more hate. So instead, I will protest with love. I'll pray for them. It may not always be easy, but with Immaculée's shining example to follow, I know I can choose love in any situation.

I sincerely recommend her empowering book. If you are moved and inspired by Immaculée's strength and vision, you can support the Left to Tell Charitable Fund by purchasing her book and/or wristbands. Or you can make a tax-deductible donation. The fund helps the children of Africa build better lives.

Love Beats Hate

Please visit the Love Beats Hate Facebook page to find links to the other participating blogs or Facebook pages. You can also share the love on twitter using the #lovebeatshate hashtag.

Thank you for visiting!

Let love rule.