Today is one of those days.
As a journalist, I was trained to become callous to the news. Whatever happens, however hard, needs to be fully reported without bias (ideally). I noticed my shock threshold ever rising, to the point where plane wrecks, murders, kidnappings, and other devastating events didn’t faze me. Yes, they were sad events, and too bad for those people. But the news wouldn’t publish itself, and people have a right to know. Right?
Yes, being informed is important. Communicating information is important. But having empathy is important. Having an appropriate response to the news is important.
Which is why today is one of those days.
I’m curled up with my computer and an Americano in my favorite pig mug, watching my daughter use her incredible upper body strength to haul herself across the floor. She hasn’t quite mastered the art of the hands-and-knees crawl, but that’s not stopping her from scooting everywhere with a puppy on her bum.
I want to smile. I want to be able to forget that awful things are happening in the world and just focus on her smile, her curiosity, her tenacity.
But today is one of those days that I can’t shake.
The callous has fallen off my heart. I see pain in others’ eyes and feel it echo inside. I don’t need to go into detail about what I’m sad about; you know exactly what I’m talking about. Just go on social media for 5 seconds and try not to drown in the anger. The hurt and sadness. The hopelessness.
But I can’t live there. I can’t stay in this sadness and hope it goes away. Creating a new callous over my heart to protect it from the world and its woes won’t benefit anyone except me. And even then, I’m not sure I would consider it a benefit.
There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.
C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
So what is the answer? The alternative to the callous?
Love. A love which casts out fear. A love so perfect that it can only come from God alone. A love that respects the worth in other people (1 John 4:7-21).
I want to embrace the raw. Sit in silence with those who need it. Speak for those who can’t. Set a positive example for my daughter with the cute puppy bum. I can’t change the world, but I can affect my world. Not with anger, not with avoidance, but with love.
** Want a practical way you can show love right now? Check out the No Fear in Love necklace on Lovishly. Each purchase helps families in Iraq rebuild what violence has taken away. One side has the words “no fear in love” written on it, while the other reads “love” in Arabic.