To love in the face of fear is bold. To love in the face of hatred is courageous. To make the choice to stretch through resistance to love even more deeply and widely in the face of blatant acts of fear and hatred is a heroism of the heart that may be our only hope to heal this world.

I wrote these words today in the midst of a broken heart that honestly feels too shattered to muster much courage or vigor, yet I still know this truth about love in the marrow of my bones.

poppy, rubble

It is not only the horrific mass shootings that face us with increasing frequency at unexpected moments on otherwise ordinary days. It is all the violence and loss that people face in their lives every day that can shatter me. I often want to wait to act until all my grief, heartbreak and anger dissipate, but I know I will need to wait forever. While these hard feelings can be overpowering, they also motivate important action and change in the world, our relationships, and our lives. At the core, I cannot help but feel that when I am cut off from either my anguish or my own heart, I have let the violence “win.” And so, I know that the only choice is to muster my courage and rally my shattered self enough to love.

Love is a verb – it wants to be active. It wants to be witnessed, felt, demonstrated, shared, flung and sung from treetops and from the bottom of our toes. Love does not want to be subordinate to grief and hurt – it wants to be part of it, it wants to be known as the cause of it. Love is longing to be woven into the entire emotional fabric of our lives – winding and revealing itself alongside every thread that is not love. This big, messy, beautiful tapestry is the truth.

So, today I pledge to be outraged, with love. To feel vulnerable, with love. To grieve, with love.

So, today I pledge to be outraged, with love. To feel vulnerable, with love. To grieve, with love. To be heartbroken, with love. To be afraid, with love. To be shattered by love. And to keep listening deeply into it all, trying to know what is called for; what I – with my broken heart – can do to help heal our broken world.

Tennessee Williams said, The world is violent and mercurial — it will have its way with you. We are saved only by love — love for each other and the love that we pour into the art we feel compelled to share: being a parent; being a writer; being a painter; being a friend. We live in a perpetually burning building, and what we must save from it, all the time, is love.”

Today, I hope that we can make all of what we do our art, and that we will let love have its way with the fullness of our heart.

To consider (feel free to share your reflections below):

  • What can you allow love to do through you today? What will it change? 
  • Even if your heart feels broken, in what ways can you show up with an open heart?
  • If your heart felt heroic – even for a moment – what might it do?
  • In what ways can you “save” love?

Kristi Nelson

Kristi Nelson

About the author

Kristi Nelson is Executive Director of A Network for Grateful Living and the author of Wake Up Grateful: The Transformative Practice of Taking Nothing for Granted. Her life’s work in the non-profit sector has focused on leading, inspiring, and strengthening organizations committed to progressive social and spiritual change. Being a long-time stage IV cancer survivor moves her every day to support others in living and loving with great fullness of heart. Learn more about Kristi here.