In one of my favorite classic children’s books, The Velveteen Rabbit, a young boy’s love made his toy rabbit “real.” It is only in rereading this classic as an adult that I realize the wisdom in this, especially during an age of so much hate and discord.

It’s a popular notion these days to “speak your truth” and, of course, we find no shortage of folks trying to do that. When someone airs their grievances and complaints, we often hear people thank them for “being real.” It’s as though you’re not authentic if you’re not shouting what you’re passionate about. We’re on a slippery slope of associating authenticity more with hate than we are in recognizing the power of truth, and sometimes, silence, spoken in love.

And because what is actually true is filtered through so many layers, screens, outlets, and personal emotions and perceptions, few of us know what’s real and not real on many current topics. As a believer in Christ, I know that I, too, have the tendency to skew what’s real through my own experiences and emotions, which is why I understand the value in holding to the absolute truth of Jesus through the Word of God. When we speak truth in love, when we act in love, it gives life — just as love gave life to the toy rabbit in the story.

Our world has lost sight of this simplicity. We’re all dying under the heaviness of the hate hurtling through the airwaves. We’re fighting for our lives against one another, sometimes not even knowing why we’re fighting. The spiritual darkness that rules this world has infiltrated almost every aspect of our lives. And we’re being deceived that this is freedom because we all finally feel an outlet to air the sin and discord that lives inside us. This is not freedom. It is not life. It is death in disguise.

Love gives life. God, as love Himself, is the creator of life. Not once did God breathe life into being through hate. Never once. And I don’t know of a single instance where hate made anyone love more. The only value in hate is in understanding its contrast to God. Hate is not making us more real; it’s trapping and hiding our God-given abilities to live and encourage others to life.

Before my wise, 90-year-old grandfather died, he said he had learned one last lesson: there’s never any value in anger. My grandfather — like the sweet, worn velveteen rabbit — had experienced enough of life to learn that only love is lifegiving. And with that, he went home to meet the Creator of that gift.

Today, I want to run like the sweet rabbit in the story that knew he was truly free because he had been loved. Come with me, friend. It’s a hurting world. But we can still be free. We can still be loved, and we can still breathe that life into others simply because Jesus is real and He loved us first. And that’s the only truth that sets us free.