There Is No Such Thing as a “Safe Heart”
By Bill Mankin
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son –John 3:16.
Valentine’s Day. Hearts and flowers. Romantic dinners and chocolates. Valentine’s is about love, but love is so much more than Valentine’s. Love is not just a warm feeling of affection or passion for another. Love is total dedication to the well-being of the beloved. Love inevitably involves vulnerability.
LL Kroouze DuBreuil, a UCC pastor from New Jersey, writes:
When I was a teen, my heart was broken for the first time. No, not by some unrequited crush, but when my beloved cat died. I wept bitterly and was inconsolable for some time.
Friends gave me advice, simple advice: If it hurts so much to lose a cat, don’t get another cat! A few weeks later I went to my uncle’s barn, saw a sweet ginger kitten, and fell in love again. Turns out that the balm for a broken heart is to open it again to love. There is no such thing as a safe heart. Taking a chance and loving leads to a pain in my heart. Lesson learned. But loving with all my heart is worth it. Better lesson learned.
God opens God’s heart and loves us. We have broken that sacred heart time and time again. Yet God renews love for us time and time again. Even when we nailed God’s love to a cross, we were loved. Even when we turned away people seeking refuge, we were loved. Even when we idolize the profane and reject the sacred, we are loved.
I have loved too well and too foolishly. I have given my heart only to have it given back pierced and torn. I have loved and lost. Yet I choose to love again. I choose to love even when there is no such thing as a “safe heart.”
God calls us to show the same kind of vulnerable love that was shown in Christ’s life. God is love, and we are made in that image. When Jesus said, we must be perfect, even as God is perfect (Matt. 5:48), I don’t think he was trying to put a burden on us that is clearly impossible for us to bear. I think he was telling us that we need to live out the image of God within us, to love as God loves, even when the vulnerability leads to pain. My daughter-in-law wrote of a woman she admires: “She simply tries. She tries to be the kind of person she wants to be, failures and all, and to me, that is the distillation of goodness—not perfection, but struggle and perseverance.”
Every day, we get up and start over to love those God loves—our spouse and children, our neighbors, our coworkers, the homeless among us, those who are unlike us, the ill and addicted, the refugees who have left everything, the impoverished who have nothing left. If we live out that love, our world won’t be the same.
Prayer: Gracious God, give us a loving heart like that which created us. Let our love for all change the world in which we all live. In the name of the one who gave all for us, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Ministry and Mission Coach