Last week, I sat confused, folding laundry on the floor of my closet as tears began to well up in my eyes.
My tears surprised me.
You see, I was convinced my heart had grown cold and numb. I had spent most of the previous year watching the news in hopes of casting an informed vote during our U.S presidential election, and in so doing, I had also watched several tragedies.
So many in fact, that my heart hurt so deeply that it couldn’t hurt anymore.
What broke my heart about all of them, is that I became numb to all of them.
It’s not that those hurts weren’t important to me, it’s more like I didn’t have the capacity for all of them to be important to me. My heart and my mind could only take so much. The first few doses of bad news sank deep, and the rest were like water overflowing from an already full cup; I had no capacity to feel it.
Have you ever felt like that, like you want to care, but you just can’t?
That’s where I was, so I resolved to turn off the news and give my hard heart a rest.
That’s why I was surprised by my tears when I heard of an open celebration of white supremacy in my own country.
I was immediately both dumbfounded and furious. I knew deep down in my heart that racism has never really died, but I was holding on to hope that in more recent generations, parents had raised their kids like my parents raised me; to see people for their character, potential, and passions, not something as shallow as the color of their skin.
My welled up tears began to flow as my thoughts shifted from disbelief to my own five African-American cousins and their safety.
Most of them are approaching or have just entered adulthood now. The older two in particular raced to the front of my mind. They’re big. They’re Black. They’re boys. 3 strikes…
Surely my aunt and uncle have had ‘the talk’ with them by now, right? You know, the one about how to stay alive as a person of color in today’s society? (By the way, if you’re caucasian and sincerely wondering if white privilege is a real thing, ask yourself if your parents ever had that talk with you, or if you’ve ever had to have it with your own kids. I’m not trying to speak in condemnation by any means, just food for thought.)
I closed my eyes and saw the images of that tiki-torch-carrying mob and immediately thought to myself:
Ronnie, Cory, wherever you are right now, just keep your head down.
Just then, righteous anger made my stomach churn at my own thought. Why should they have to keep their heads down? Why should I be secretly wishing for them to fly by under the radar, instead of walking tall, and proud, and with dignity? Why, in our beautiful, free, welcoming country should I fear for them staying alive—literally?
My parent’s taught me to always stand up for what’s right, whether it’s popular or not. As one of my favorite quotes say, “Always speak your mind, even if your voice shakes.”
So I’m standing up with shaking knees, and I’m speaking up with a cracking voice, to pose the question that I believe that I have a responsibility to ask. I’m posing the question that I believe holds the answer to this and several other hurdles that we, as a country, and a community, and a culture are desperate to leap:
What is love capable of?
I’m convinced love is the most powerful force is the entire universe. It may have a reputation of being quiet and controlled, but never take its kindness for weakness, or its patience for passivity. Love is like the ocean; it is both beautiful and fierce.
With that in mind, here’s what I believe love is capable of:
Love Is Capable of Leading
Love starts as an intention, something we set out to do. It’s up to us each of us to ensure it becomes our choice at every opportunity. And when love becomes our default choice, it grows into our way of life. When we, as leaders of our own decisions, as molders of children, and as influencers in our social circles, lead with love, our potential to improve our culture is endless.
Love Is Capable of Contagion
Love is taught, and like anything else, it’s taught best by example. As we live with love engrained so deeply in us, it seeps out in every single relationship. the more it flows freely from us, the harder it is to respond with anything else but love. It’s hard to be angry with someone who grants you unconditional love, isn’t it? Love is contagious, start spreading it.
Love Is Capable of Change
Love may start in hopes to change a situation or even a person, but it has an uncanny ability to change ourselves. A person who has been changed by love is a force to be reckoned with.
Love Is Capable of Healing
Here’s the most important capability of love, because this is the difference between love and hate. Hate can also lead. Hate is also contagious. Hate can change, too. But only love can heal. Love soothes the fires of rage, and closes the deepest wounds. Love is the mirror that shows us our flaws in a way that make us eager to change. If we react to hate with love, we usher in the healing process.
Remember, love is stronger than hate. Anything that hate can do, love can do better. We have to hold on to that hope. Love is stronger.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
It’s this love, God’s love in us, that is what makes us capable of loving beyond logic.