Today is national "Ignore a Hater Day" (at least, according to Jon Acuff).
So far, today, I haven't had any haters to ignore! (Although, that might be because they're all still in bed at 5:45 AM . . . )
Anyway, on this special day, I thought it would be appropriate to tell you why I love my haters. (But I'm still going to take Jon's advice and ignore them!)
a person who criticizes, demeans, contradicts, and hates another person or entity.
One hater is all it takes. One person who always disagrees. Who always criticizes.
You know you have one.
They might as well be kryptonite. A comment from a hater darkens your sunshiny day. You see them on the street and your heart starts to race. You avoid them in person and online. But they seem to appear everywhere.
Sure, you have friends who tell you you're awesome. They like your statuses. They make cute comments on your photos. They send you encouraging notes. You might even have fans who follow you like the paparazzi and brighten your day by screaming "YOU ROCK!" at random intervals. (I wish I had some of those!)
You tell yourself, "Forget the haters! You have encouraging people in your life who validate your dreams!"
But your fans can't validate your dreams like your haters can.
Yes, you read that right.
Let me explain.
A friend from my #STARTwriters group recently got a nasty comment on her blog. She posted it in our Facebook group, and you know what we did? We celebrated! She's making enough of a difference to have haters. That's pretty awesome.
He said mean things and closed with "You're doomed." She responded, "You may be right!" And she left it at that.
That's even more awesome. She disarmed her hater.
The hater unknowingly validated her. She's making enough of a difference to have people who are uncomfortable with her success.
Warning: If you don't have haters, you may not be making a difference.
Jesus said to love your enemies (Matt. 5:44), and Paul quoted this proverb in Romans 12 (which means two smart people both thought it was a good idea!):
If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you. Proverbs 25:21-22 (NIV)
I've always been cool with the whole "love your enemies" thing, even though it's hard sometimes. I used to think, "Well, Jesus says love the haters, so I guess I should."
But I've recently come to think it's a REALLY AWESOME IDEA!
I'm starting to love--and even LIKE--my haters, because they tell me that I'm taking a stance.
I did horrible on the SAT Essay, even though my grammar and structure were excellent. Why? Because I was trying to be a people pleaser. I wanted to show how both choices could be the right answer. (Ironically, the topic was "Is it Good to Compromise?" I should have gotten bonus points for that irony!) I took both sides of the issue instead of taking a stance and arguing for it with gusto.
No one ever changed the world that way. (And no one ever got a perfect SAT score that way either.)
I'm not telling you to stir up trouble. I'm saying: "Let's challenge the status quo!"
We are called to be peacemakers and to "live in peace with everyone" "as far as it depends on you." (Heb. 12:14, Rom. 12:18).
But Jesus clearly said we would have haters if we were following him:
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. John 15:18-19 (NIV)
Dare to gain some haters.
Do a chair dance when you get your first one. (Woot, woot, I'm making a difference!)
And then surprise their socks off by loving them in return, or--if they're particularly trollish or antagonistic--simply pull a Jon Acuff Hater Response. It goes something like this: " ."
That's right. Blank space. It drives them crazy every time.
Finally, remember: You are loved. You are valued. And your worth is never determined by people, whether fans, friends, or haters.
The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)
More on haters from Jon Acuff: 2 Questions that Make 99% of All Haters Invisible