Disclaimer: this is a long post, but please don’t read it if you are only going to read the first paragraph. I ask you to bear with me and read the whole thing or don’t read it at all. I have rewritten this post over and over for five days and I offer it to you today as my imperfect offering. Right or wrong, this is where I am today.
Lament: a passionate expression of grief or sorrow.
Like many of you, my dear readers, I am heartbroken about the election. I never, ever thought it was possible our country would elect Donald Trump to be our next president. More than my worries about the next four years, which are considerable, it feels right now that the triumph of his candidacy signals the death of decency and kindness in our country. Racism, xenophobia, misogyny and hate seem to have been given a pass. In our distaste for what some derisively call “political correctness,” we have collectively decided we prefer someone who says out loud the things our parents taught us were unacceptable in polite society.
Whether you agree with them or not, people I know and love are fearful they no longer have a place in Trump country because of his statements about immigrants and minorities. Women who have suffered from sexual assault feel victimized all over again because of his vulgar comments. His reactive temperament worries many as we look toward him being the Diplomat and Commander-in-Chief. Real people are hurting as a result of real words that have come out of his mouth, not just once but repeatedly. As a Christian, I feel compelled to stand with those who are still grieving and fearful and I honor their need to express their lament. This was not an ordinary election.
Yet, in just a few weeks, President-Elect Trump will be sworn into office. In spite of the hurt and outrage, he will be our president, the leader of the free world, and our representative with foreign leaders around the globe.
I also stand by this belief: regardless of who is in the White House, God still reigns.
So what does it mean to be part of the solution going forward? Where do we go from here? How do people of faith respond in the face of so much brokenness, animosity and division? How do we heal our country?
Perhaps these words from the prophet Micah can give us direction:
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
Our God is still the God of the underdog, the poor, the marginalized and the oppressed. Every book of the bible testifies to that truth. In whatever capacity we perceive injustice, people of faith have always been called to speak the truth to power. We are called to love, not just in word, but with action. We fight injustice with our votes, with our voice, with our resources and with our presence. We show up every single day with people who are being treated with disrespect. We feed hungry people and we speak up for the voiceless. We keep our baptismal vows to renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness and resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves. We are not victims and we are not powerless. We have a voice and we have a choice about how to behave now with our fellow citizens. I choose hope and I choose kindness.
Let me be clear, because we interpret what it means to fight for justice differently, no political party has all the answers. No matter who we voted for on Tuesday, we can all agree racism or sexism in any form is wrong. Every day, we ask ourselves the question “what am I willing to do TODAY to act justly and stand in solidarity with those who may be being treated unfairly?”
I attended a program at my church on Saturday and was inspired by a message about “hope as spiritual practice” from Wesley Seminary professor Dr. Veronice Miles.
To live with hope as a spiritual practice is to say yes to God’s yes for creation and for our lives by availing ourselves to God’s ongoing work of fashioning a just and humane world for all people and for the earth as our shared home. It is to actively love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves; to willfully and intentionally engage in the work of transformation so that wholeness and wellbeing will become the normative expression of human existence.
Dr. Miles went on to say that Practices of Hope might include the following:
- Boundary Crossing
- Extravagant Love
- Intercessory Prayer
- Truth Telling
- Righteous Indignation
In spite of our differences, I believe most of us want the best for our country. Most Trump supporter are not racists, most Christians are not right wing extremists, and most Hillary supporters are not godless, liberal elitists. I have a group of five women who I talk to most every day, my writing sisters with whom I exchange writing critiques, parenting advice, and spiritual encouragement. They are funny, smart, compassionate, kind, powerful women. We all love Jesus and yearn for the world to look more like the Kingdom He envisioned in the Gospels. We live in five different states, spread out throughout the country. Some of us voted for Secretary Clinton and some of us voted for Mr. Trump. All of us found his rhetoric offensive and wrong. While we may disagree on how to spend our vote, I do not question any of their motives. We all believe we must continue to fight hate, racism, misogyny and other forms of injustice, even if we don’t agree on the political path to get there. I know them and I know their hearts. Knowing them allows me to understand others who voted differently from me. I am wasting energy best used elsewhere when I shoot arrows of blame and condemnation at those who disagree with me politically.
Walk humbly with my God
We had an election prayer service on the night before the election at my church. At the end of the service, we had the opportunity to sign up for a thirty minute time slot on Wednesday to pray for our president-elect, no matter what happened. Feeling spiritually smug and certain I would be praying for Hilary Clinton, I signed up for the 2:30 – 3:00 slot.
When Wednesday dawned with the unwelcome news, I remembered my promise. To be completely honest, I began praying closer to 2:45 and even then I mostly fussed at God for letting this happen, reminding Him of all the horrible things Donald Trump has said and done. I tattled on Donald Trump to God and then tearfully and begrudgingly asked God to help him be a good president and to heal the brokenness in our country. I also asked God to make me brave enough to be part of the solution going forward.
I have prayed for Donald Trump every day since then.
Holding strong convictions and operating from a place of humility is difficult. The voices on both sides are loud, angry and convinced they are right. This election is a direct result of our arrogance and our failure to listen to one another and I am as guilty as anyone. I have struggled for almost a week to write this post because it has been difficult to set aside my righteous indignation- or at least what I believe to be righteous.
Yet, I have found glimmers of hope in the last few days. I worship at a church where all voices are welcome and heard, supporters of both candidates, members of both parties. We are sisters and brothers. Humility requires listening, both to God and to each other. Walking humbly with my God requires a daily commitment to the practices of my faith and a daily commitment to be a voice of hope, love, reconciliation and justice. It is simple, but it is not easy.
Perhaps this election is an opportunity. An opportunity for darkness to be exposed and the light to shine on aspects of our society which need healing. An opportunity to be the Church of Jesus in a more loving and compassionate way. An opportunity to get off the sidelines and participate more fully in the process of reconciliation and justice in our society. An opportunity to be braver, listen more deeply and love better.
Your words of lament are welcome here, but I also want to hear your plans for the future. What is your commitment going forward? How will you be part of the solution? What gives you hope?