love in the face of despair


Love in the face ofThis post was written by Kristi Nelson, Executive Director of A Network for Grateful Living, in response to news of the horrific shooting spree in Orlando, Florida on Sunday:

To love in the face of fear is bold.

To love in the face of hatred is courageous.

To make the choice to stretch through resistance to love even more deeply and widely in the face of blatant acts of fear and hatred is a heroism of the heart that may be our only hope to heal this world.

I wrote these words today in the midst of a broken heart that honestly feels too shattered to muster much courage or vigor, yet I still know this truth about love in the marrow of my bones.

It is not only the horrific killings in Orlando, it is all the violence that people face in their lives every day that can shatter me.

It can feel impossible to transcend my broken heart, impossible to lift myself out of my despair. I often want to wait to act until all my grief, heartbreak and anger dissipate, but I know I will need to wait forever.

While these hard feelings can be overpowering, they also motivate important action and change in the world, our relationships, and our lives.

At the core, I cannot help but feel that when I am cut off from either my anguish or my own heart, I have let the violence “win.” And so, I know that the only choice is to muster my courage and rally my shattered self enough to love.

Love is a verb – it wants to be active.  It wants to be witnessed, felt, demonstrated, shared, flung and sung from treetops and from the bottom of our toes.

Love does not want to be subordinate to grief and hurt – it wants to be part of it, it wants to be known as the cause of it. Love is longing to be woven into the entire emotional fabric of our lives – winding and revealing itself alongside every thread that is not love. This big, messy, beautiful tapestry is the truth.

So, today I pledge to be outraged, with love.
To feel vulnerable, with love.
To grieve, with love.
To be heartbroken, with love.
To be afraid, with love.
To be shattered by love.
And to keep listening deeply into it all, trying to know what is called for; what I – with my broken heart – can do to help heal our broken world.

Tennessee Williams said,

“The world is violent and mercurial — it will have its way with you. We are saved only by love — love for each other and the love that we pour into the art we feel compelled to share: being a parent; being a writer; being a painter; being a friend. We live in a perpetually burning building, and what we must save from it, all the time, is love.”

Today, I hope that we can make all of what we do our art, and that we will let love have its way with the fullness of our heart.

KristiKristi Nelson is the Executive Director of A Network for Grateful Living. To read more about her, visit this page.

Connect with A Network for Grateful Living here.





  1. She’s right. I think when we finally recognize the size of our actual sphere of influence, and act within those boundaries with integrity and love, we are the stone in the pond. I have a friend who constantly flails against “the world” and it’s become quite alienating. I’ve come to find it arrogant and damaging to her. I want to say, “Let go. Live YOUR life. You can’t control what everyone else does. You’ll never make everyone believe what you believe even if it is right, so stop it. Do something of your own.” It’s like one of my favorite poems by Li Bai. I wanted to share the poem with you, but when I “googled” it I found my own blog :p Here it is:


    1. Martha, thank you for sharing Li Bai’s poem. Yes, integrity and love–perhaps the two most important goals by which to live our lives, and we’re called to play them out within the context of our everyday personal lives. Some of the wisest words I’ve ever read are from Mother Teresa: “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” For me, it’s about trying to do small things with love–trying to bloom where I’m planted. It’s not an easy task, and it’s certainly not smarmy sentimental. But it touches something within that nothing else can.

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