Wednesday, November 9, 2016

….So Where Do We Go From Here?

OK, y'all. This election. I don't know where to begin. Let me make a disclaimer before I start that this is neither pro-Trump nor pro-Clinton. K? Fill up your coffee cups (or wine glasses) and breathe with me. Leave your political opinions at the door. Even though this post is about the current political climate, it's not a political debate.

This entire year has been one of gut wrenching cultural and political turmoil. This year has pitted just about socioeconomic group against one another. Every demographic has been polarized. So much hate. So much pain. But more than anything, there has been so much fear. 

I believe that it is fear that is the root cause of all this division. Fear has prevailed in 2016. I would argue that the fear has led to more stereotyping, more polarization--not less. When we have been afraid, we have stopped listening to opposing viewpoints. For months, people have been nervously pacing around saying "What if {fill in the blank} gets elected?! What if the opposing viewpoint to mine wins?!"

Last night, hearts shattered across the nation but a lot of people are also celebrating. This level of hate this year has been killing me. KILLING ME. I have been having migraines, tension, rashes, insomnia, anxiety, and more. I was counting down the minutes hoping that the actual election result would help people move on & hate one another less. I've seen the opposite. I've seen anger. Heartbreak. Gloating. Smugness. Meanness. Grieving. Despair. Taunting. Boasting. SO MUCH SELF RIGHTEOUSNESS. SO MUCH FEAR. SO MUCH DIVISION. SO MUCH HATE. All the emotions that were there pre-election have been magnified post-election.

It's exhausting. It's nasty. It's disheartening. And I'll be honest, I have been embarrassed to be a Christian in light of how we have behaved on our social media accounts {both political parties, for the record}. We have attached our political parties to Jesus as if they are synonymous. For the record, setting your political beliefs where your conscience and faith-life leads you is not wrong. Filtering your ballot through beliefs is not inherently wrong.  It's not.

However, idolizing either one of the man-made, flawed political parties and elevating it to the same level as Jesus is wrong. It's not only wrong, it's impractical and not conducive to our cause as followers of Jesus. Because when we do that, we stop the conversation. We're burning bridges instead of building them. We're narrowing our circles of who we will subject ourselves to eat dinner with. Y'all. My heart broke all day today reading all the arguments on my Facebook timeline. I told myself I would stay off Facebook today, but I couldn't look away. I would stop for a few hours, then curiosity would pull me back. 

I felt so defeated watching this division that I HAD TO sit down to pray.

So I prayed. And I prayed. And I prayed some more. You know what God lead me to re-learn today? 

He has done some of His best work in times of political unrest. He has pulled off miracles in times when division was at the highest. 

You know what that means? These times of grief and gloating are difficult, but they are also an opportunity. This is not a time to slap people around with our exhausting and ultimately unproductive debates, it's a time to roll up our sleeves and put our steel toed boots on because we have hard work to do. This is the time to show the world what we're made of. I hope to God we're not only made of where we placed our checkmark on our ballots. 

We need to show up and get to work because most of America has been disgusted with every news cycle this year. Most of America has lost faith in our entire democracy. We have lost faith in each other. We have lost the ability to unify and work together in our government, but that does not mean that we have to lose our ability to work together as the church. In fact, let's not… K?

People are going to be looking for hope, and we can't offer them a thing with our hopelessness or smugness we're putting out there on social media. We have to work with people we disagree with. We have to work with people who think differently than us. We have to stop pointing people towards Red or Blue, and instead look up. We're going to have to have to give people hope and love, and we're going to have to do that with humility and subtlety. We've got to stop arguing about what God thinks and we've got to start loving the people God made. For the record, that's everyone.

Shame on us for placing our hope in who lives in the White House. Shame on us for declaring that people who don't vote the way that we do "aren't real Christians". Shame on us for placing our trust in our government. Jesus never once set up a government, he set up a church. He didn't write a Constitution, or Amendments, or Propositions, he moved from community to community breaking bread with people of all sorts. He never called on a government to do his work, he called on us, his followers to do it. If the depth of our faith is measured only by which way we vote, then there is no discernible difference between the ones who show up to church only on Christmas and the ones who have devoted their lives to putting Christ first because which bumper sticker they put on their car would tell us all we need to know.

We don't have to wait on the government to do the work of God. We, not congress, are the Church's hands and feet. We will not get there by curling up and crying in a ball, and we will not get there by with posting sarcastic memes. We will get there by gathering around tables with people of differing beliefs. We will get there by opening our church doors to people who don't look or dress like us. We will get there by volunteering at soup kitchens. We will get there by adopting the orphaned. We will get there by digging deeper than reading cherry picked verses on memes on our smartphones. We will get there by visiting the elderly with no family left to care for them. We will get there by praying over one another. We will get there by befriending people that are different than us. We will get there by encouraging our children to have diversity in their friendships. We will get there by hugging one another. We will get there when we stop being afraid of the other side. We will get there by listening more than we talk. No government can do any of these, but we can. Better yet, Jesus can. Jesus can offer people hope in a hopeless world. Jesus can surprise people with how much he loves us… all of us. 

Let's stop obsessing over who will lead this country and instead focus on who will lead our hearts. The world is watching us so closely right now. Let's be the light of the world. Let's give people hope for a change.

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