Here we are again.
We get a reprieve for a while, then the next set of mass shootings descend upon us in rapid succession.
Our shock and anger look for a target. Someone responsible. Someone to blame. We scream that something must be done.
Underneath all the media coverage, the graphic images, and the gut-wrenching stories of both tragedy and heroism, lies the forgotten victim of every mass shooting of our lifetime.
This victim is our hearts. Mine. Yours. The hearts of our family members. The hearts of our coworkers, neighbors, and friends.
In mass shootings, we see one of our worst nightmares come to life: the terror that those we love will be stolen from us, suddenly and violently. No closure. No chance to say goodbye. No opportunity to right wrongs, give forgiveness, or make amends. No final conversation, hug, or kiss.
Some of us have experienced loss like this.
If the right person is missing, all the world seems empty. For the grieving heart, life has been altered forever. The anticipated future is gone. Plans and dreams are no more.
Another mass shooting occurs. Our hearts get hit, again. The shock stuns us. Sadness wells up inside. Anger begins to brew. Our anxiety level rises. With each such event, the world seems a darker, more dangerous place. Fear knocks – and keeps knocking.
Somewhere inside a voice whispers, “This could happen anywhere to anyone. It could happen here. To me. To us.”
Guilt and helplessness tussle inside us. Depression and apathy are not far off. We say, “Such things are too big for me. What can I do?” The weight of it all threatens to silence our hearts over time.
We must not let this happen.
If we lose our hearts, we lose everything. Our hearts are who we are.
We must not succumb to the pressure of fear, anxiety, or a false sense of helplessness.
We must not let our souls be bludgeoned into hiding. We cannot afford to grow hard, calloused, or desensitized.
We must not choose fear over love and action. The stakes are too high for us to take a back seat.
We must find our hearts.
Some hearts have been buried under the wounds and difficulties of life. Others have been strangled in the pursuit of things which promise but cannot hope to satisfy. Still others have been overcome by the messages around them. Some hearts have fallen asleep and are merely going through the motions.
It’s time to find our hearts. Unearth them. Give them some air and let them breathe again. Wake them up. We must find the voice within that shouts, “Everyone matters. Each person is of inherent, priceless value.”
How do we find our hearts?
Below are seven suggestions. I’m going to use the pronoun “you” to make this as personal as possible. Please know I’m talking to myself too.
Show compassion, now.
People are hurting. Faced with such massive need, you might be tempted to look the other way, go into hiding, and live your life quietly in the shadows. Your heart will not agree with that course. You are designed to love.
Be kind, now.
Being kind isn’t hard. It’s a simple choice. One moment, one situation, one person at a time. Kindness nurtures hearts. A kind word or act can be not only a day-changer, but a life-changer.
Be generous, now.
When you sense danger, chances are being generous is not your first inclination. And yet, generosity can be a great deterrent to fear and hopelessness. You might be tempted to draw back and protect yourself, but your heart longs to reach out and give.
Be loving, now.
Love seeks the ultimate good of the other person. Nothing exercises waning hearts more than expressing love. It’s a gift that you give to others. It’s the most powerful force on the planet. Every heart yearns to give and receive it.
Be forgiving, now.
Now is not the time to find fault and hold grudges. Now, more than ever, you must guard your heart by uprooting any form of bitterness or blaming that could take root. Such things do not lead to positive change.
Serve for the greater good, now.
Don’t get entangled in the negativity, finger pointing, and reactive anger. Instead, serve. Get out of your own head and meet the needs of others. Service is a powerful expression of compassion, kindness, and love.
Live from your heart, now.
Who are you? Why are you here? What’s your purpose? Find your heart and begin to live from it – one step at a time, one moment at a time.
Don’t let your heart become the latest victim of the most recent mass shooting. Get up. Live. Show compassion. Be kind. Be generous. Be loving. Be forgiving. Serve for the greater good. Live from your heart. Now.
We need you. Badly.