This morning I woke up to the devastating news of yet another mass shooting in my country. An elementary school in Texas. Children. Teachers. I felt paralyzed.
I started to go into fear and blame: This is the fault of XYZ politicians. This is the fault of a broken mental health care system. This is the fault of this and that and them…
And then I remembered…
Three years ago this same thing had happened in my own city of Dayton, Ohio. I’d gone into similar patterns then, and I’d written a blog post that helped me – and hopefully others – find a way to work through the fear and sadness.
I’m republishing that post today, because remembering it helped me. And I hope it helps you.
Sending love to all the teachers, parents, and children in Texas and every place else that has experienced a mass shooting this year. My heart is with you. ❤️
How to Love Bravely in a Scary World
Originally Published August 6, 2019
Last weekend there was a mass shooting in my city. Sadly, that sentence is one that many Americans can relate to. And like all of them, I never thought I’d have to say it.
So for this week’s blog, I simply couldn’t write about decluttering your stuff or your schedule. In light of what those who’ve lost loved ones are going through, it didn’t seem important enough to write about.
But here’s what did seem important enough: love.
When I first heard about this tragedy, my mind went into problem-prevention-mitigation mode. I asked the same frantic questions everyone else asked, “Why? Were there warning signs?? What can we do to prevent this???”
I circled fruitlessly around the same ideas of mental health and gun control and so on.
All those things have been talked about. All of them might help. Or not. The thing is, sadly, I haven’t seen much action from people in power to affect change in those areas.
So I dwelt in resigned misery for awhile. Feeling powerless. Waiting for the news to stop showing vigils in Dayton so they can start showing vigils in the next city.
And then I thought… NO. There is something I can do. There is something we all can do. LOVE.
Love is a verb. It is an action. It is, perhaps, the most powerful action of all the actions.
And it takes more bravery to love than it does to feel scared or angry or powerless.
And I truly believe that if enough of us love bravely there will be less room for the hate and fear. If enough people love bravely, we can change the world.
The best part is, loving bravely requires no legislative action, no big funding. It doesn’t matter what your politics or religion or racial background is. You can love bravely today, immediately after reading this post.
And you can start to change the world.
Here are some ideas…
WAYS TO LOVE YOURSELF BRAVELY:
- Throw out all the junk food in your home. Commit bravely to loving yourself enough to feed your body well.
- Put down your phone and go for a walk. Bravely disconnect so you can connect with the voice inside you. What is it telling you?
- Look at your body in the mirror and be brave enough to love it. Every inch. Say “I love you” to every freckle, dimple, and wobble. Every aching joint. One of my favorite Biblical quotes is “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.” That is awesome and true. Be brave enough to believe it.
- Turn off notifications. Be brave enough to love yourself and let go of the fear that you are missing important communication. You’re not.
- Sleep. A lot. Be brave enough to let go of your to-do list long enough to give your body the rest it deserves.
- Intentionally do something you love, even if it doesn’t feel “important”: go hiking, call a friend, solve a crossword puzzle, lose yourself in a book. Be brave enough to let go of the “shoulds” so you can do the “wants.”
- Start a blog or passion project. Love yourself bravely enough to know that you have something important to say.
WAYS TO LOVE YOUR LOVED ONES BRAVELY:
- Tell your partner you love them, even if this feels uncomfortable to you.
- Tell your children you love them, even if they roll their eyes or pretend not to hear you.
- Tell your garbage man you love him. (No, don’t do that… unless you really do! Just making sure you’re still reading…)
- Send a handwritten “just thinking of you” card to someone you’ve lost touch with. And yes, make sure you write that you love them!
- Initiate physical intimacy with your partner, especially if this isn’t something you normally do. It could be as simple as holding their hand, all the way up to, well, you know…
- Write a thank you note to your in-laws, thanking them for raising such a terrific spouse for you.
- Sit down and listen to someone you love. Really listen. Don’t try to fix or suggest anything. Be brave enough to trust that they will find their own solution.
WAYS LOVE THE WORLD BRAVELY:
- Go for a walk and bravely commit to smiling, making eye contact, and saying “hello” to everyone you meet.
- Notice something good about someone you normally criticize/gossip about. Tell as many other people as possible about this good thing you noticed.
- Hold the door open for someone. Wish them a sincere good day while you’re at it.
- Compliment a stranger on their shoes, hair, adorable dog, etc. You just might make their day.
- Bravely strike up a conversation while waiting in line.
- Forgive someone you need to forgive. Be brave enough to let go of your anger and disappointment. This is how you make room for love.
- Volunteer. At an animal shelter, a school, a nursing home, wherever you want!
- Help your neighbor rake leaves, trim their lawn, weed their garden, etc.
- Invite a neighbor over for drinks or a cookout. Even if you’re a bad cook. This will make for fun memories!
Clearly, this is not an exhaustive list. There are an infinite number of ways to love bravely in the world.
And I believe that if all of us commit to loving bravely every day–even in small ways–we can push back against the tide of fear and violence that threatens to paralyze us.
So I’m curious… what’s one way you can love bravely today? I’d love for you to email me personally at [email protected] and let me know.
To living and loving your bravest life,