It’s hard to feel anything but heaviness when it’s the second day in a row that you wake up to texts from friends informing you that yet another tragedy has occurred in such a short time period. What else can you feel when you wake up to news videos with parents crying and footage of LGBTQ people texting their families telling them that they’re most likely going to die? And what else can you feel when it very quickly spins into a political, ideological, and theological firestorm when that’s the last thing that this horror needs?
I’m not sure, but what I’m trying to feel is love, because I believe that love is a verb, and what we need is an overdose of love injected back into our hearts to combat the apathy, the homophobia, and the rampant hatred of all kinds that continues to abound in our midst.
That’s why I’m posting this piece today. I wrote it several weeks ago, but I wasn’t quite sure when it would be most appropriate to share, because it’s a mournful piece. It reads as if it’s accompanying tears, and it doesn’t necessarily end optimistically, and that’s why I think that today is the exact right timing, because I think that so many of us, both Christians and non-Christians, have lost sight of what it means to be human and what it means to see the humanity and the image of God in others. So, here’s to prayers that we’ll soon be able to join in under the mantle of the love that we’re supposed to be known for.
The heart is a funny thing. It is a shape. It is an organ. And it beats and bleeds and breaks. It is wild, wanting what it wants, and at the same time caged, bound by arbitrary rules and laws, chained by the names and faces and bodies from which they are so often dissociated. Why else would we claim that this heart is lesser than that heart or that the love of those hearts is inferior to the love of these hearts if not for the fleshly mannequins that they inhabit? Because buried beneath skin and bone, race and gender, beauty and perceived lack thereof, every heart is created equal, the sentiments felt therein standard across each one.
And yet that is the funny thing about hearts. It’s the thing that we can’t seem to see, because our eyes are blinded by all the layers of arbitrary paint that coat our external shells. Rather than a sea of hearts, we see lists of characteristics and soon every heart is sorted and classified according to its physical or metaphysical generalizations. This is what binds our souls and ties our hands, keeping us from seeing that we’re creating our own taboos.
Why else would we allow one heart to bleed out because of the color of his skin? Why else would we allow another to break because it loves a set of chromosomes that’s identical to his or her own?
This is the affliction that we now live with unaware, the bruising and battering of our hearts by the iron fists of legalism and conformity until we’re calloused and all our tissue has scarred over, leaving us numb to the realities of the pain pulsating within every adjacent heartbeat. And we don’t even notice that our own hearts are suffering slow deaths by empathic necrosis because we overmedicate, pumping ourselves full of narcotic self-righteousness, religious fervor, and political fanaticism until we cease to feel at all, until everything we know, our own hearts and those of others become only means to simply an end, an end of respect, an end of compassion, and an end of love.