I have sat down at my laptop countless times this past month to write an election post. Each time, the screen stared back at me with its blinking cursor as I tried to formulate coherent thoughts that would translate well into words and into your hearts. I was unable to. My heart had been so heavy with the chaotic political atmosphere in America, and it only grew heavier the closer to the election we came.
To be clear, I wasn’t afraid of the outcome of the election and I am not afraid for the future of America or my children’s. I never was. Truly. As a Christian, I’m not given a spirit of fear, but one of hope, knowing the One who truly is in control. The One who truly holds the future. I do have concerns, of course, but I know I can lay them at the Lord’s feet. My heart was heavy with the sadness of a political war that was taking no prisoners in its drive to win: family, friends, neighbors and fellow Americans; all casualties. Even now, I find it hard pressed to put into words what I am feeling, but I feel that I must try to convey it anyway.
Many weeks ago, I made a promise to myself not to post anything more that was remotely related to the election on any social feeds or even to talk about it. If I tried to post an article that I felt intelligently articulated my opinion that was different from someone else’s or I tried to respond to an article with a response that was different than the tone of the initial post, my otherwise sweet family and friends answered with cries of offense and outrage. The defining moment that led to my vow of political silence was when I tried to have a rational conversation with someone close, a Christian, around the time the video tape scandal of Mr. Trump was released. As a parent of a 14 year old boy, to whom I am trying to teach the Christian value of a woman’s worth in relationship to a man, I only wanted acknowledgement that what was said by Mr. Trump was indeed wrong and that it did matter; that in the very least, it certainly was a teachable moment for my son.
It was met with, “No, it doesn’t matter; it’s just talk and doesn’t make a difference in a political race and if you don’t vote for Trump, than you are just as bad as every other baby killer.” I was stunned and then and there I decided to be quiet about the election. I also made the decision for the rest of the election period to unfollow (not unfriend) friends whom, every five seconds were posting a political meme that was intended to incite anger and I also decided not to share any more articulate articles outlining my thoughts.
Why? Well, I had a lightbulb moment. Satan uses each and every opportunity he can to dig in and cause division within the Christian community and I didn’t want to allow him to use me to cause anymore division if I could help it. As I can tend to be outspoken and easily provoked on subjects I feel passionate about, I took myself, the best I could, out of situations that Satan may have used during the election period to cause any division between myself and others.
“When God’s people are in disaccord, God is heartbroken while Satan dances in delight.” @SouthJerseyMama
Here’s the thing, friends: When people look at my social media feeds or talk to me and come away knowing more about the passion I have for the political candidate I support, the passion I have for the coffee I love to drink, the passion I have for the trips I go on with my family, the passion I have for the team I have season tickets to, the passion I have for (fill in the blank), and yes, even the passion I have for my children whom I passionately love, than they do about the passion that I have for the Lord that I serve, that’s a problem. A big problem.
“When people walk away from me knowing everything that I am passionate about except for my passion for the Lord, that’s a big problem.” @SouthJerseyMama
When they walk away and can know all that about me, and they’ve not learned from me that there is a really big God, who loves them with a really big love that covers all of their fears, if only they lay them at His feet, and I don’t proceed to tell them how He did that, that’s also a big problem.
That’s where I failed the Lord. Not by not supporting one candidate over another candidate, or one platform over another, but by unintentionally conveying to everyone who knows me, that I place more faith in anyone and everything, than I do in Him.
I challenge you to ask the same of yourself and your passions.
I want you to think about something else.
At the creation of Adam and Eve, we were given free will and anything that happens to us, the world and all that is in it, is a result of that free will. We are not God’s puppets. He loves us too much for that. Yet, we live in a broken and fallen world. A world that, for a time, God has given the reigns over to Satan. This is that war that I was speaking of earlier. Spiritual warfare.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:10-12)
Satan was given the freedom to try and sway us and in our sin, more often than not, we allow ourselves to be swayed. (As followers of Christ we know that; however, it’s much harder for those who don’t know the Lord to process sin and that’s where we are supposed to shine some light and give understanding) I am sure it is much to God’s dismay and heartache when we give into that sin. From the seemingly little things, (it’s okay to tell a little lie, go over the speed limit or keep the extra dollar in change; after all who is it going to hurt?) to the violence coming out of the election, the escalading racial tensions, this ugliness that is going on in America and all around the world; it causes the Lord heartbreak and sadness. He is not looking at America in delight right now and exclaiming, “Yes! My plan is going splendidly!” I am confident it is the complete opposite. With tears in His eyes, I think he’s shaking his head and saying, “My sons and daughters need to do better.”
God’s plan for us is the plan that leads us and leads others to Him and not away from Him. Trust me when I say, more people are being turned away from Him right now, than towards Him. His greatest plan for us is to know Him, love Him, and love others.
“One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31)
He wants us to do this in a way that will lead others towards a path that will help them to choose to believe and trust in Him. To know that His son, Jesus Christ, was crucified and three days later rose from the dead so they will not drown in their sin and be lost to Him.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
We need to keep in mind that almost always that path is filled with ups and downs, twists and turns, bumps and crevices to teach us lessons and pull us closer to Him.
That is supposed to be our first and most important passion while we are here on this earth. Telling others about Him.
We can’t do that in our gloating. We can’t do that in our indifference. We can’t do that in our avoidance. We can’t do that in our absolute stance that we are right, and you are wrong. We can’t do that in our name calling and self-righteous judgement.
We need to do better. All of us. If you call yourself a follower of Christ, this means you.
Right now, that means in a time when there are people feeling hurt and despair over the outcome of the presidential election, or feeling hurt and despair over racial issues, or feeling hurt or despair over anything that we don’t understand or believe in, we need to do better. We really do. We need to reach out to these people through the love of Christ in absolute empathy.
Empathy means you don’t have to understand that person’s hurt and you don’t even have to agree with it, but you absolutely better choose to acknowledge that they are hurting and you choose to love them anyway. You choose to ask them what you can do to help them. You love them, like Christ loved you.
You choose, in times like these, to reach out with the love of our Jesus who knows no worldly differentiation of sin, who died a brutal death to forgive each and every sin, of each and every person (Yes! This even means Trump, Clinton and their supporters!) whether we deem it forgivable or not, and you share that story of love with them.
You share with them that the battle they are fighting has already been fought; it’s already been won. You point them to the One that can give them the hope that will overcome their fears.
In closing I want to share with you the scenario that led me to finally write this sort-of political post:
I took my kids to Starbucks last week for a special treat. There was a man at the table behind us sitting alone. A few minutes later, three more men came in and joined him, shaking hands. It was clearly a meeting of some sort. If you’ve ever been in a crowded Starbucks, you know that it’s nearly impossible to not eavesdrop on the conversation behind you. At one point, I heard the men talking about what obviously had to be the election results. One of them remarked (and I am paraphrasing), “Look, you know, the women thing, the stuff that was said, it doesn’t really matter in light of the election and what was at stake. That’s what men do. We say stuff like that and some cheat.”
I just sort of shook my head, glad the kids were in line for their 22nd cheese stick to go with their coco. However, when the kids returned to the table, I could hear the gentlemen’s conversation turn to talk of what was going on in their congregations. I can’t imagine the conversation I would’ve had to have with my 14 year old son had he heard the first part of, what I assume to be pastors’ or some other related field, conversation.
I have friends and followers on my social media sites who are really feeling marginalized right now. Some are Christians, some are not. Almost all of them have been lighting up my social media feeds posting of their hurt and dismay; and it’s aimed mainly towards their Christian friends, and honestly, more specifically, their “white, evangelical Christian” friends. I hate that label. I don’t even wish to be lumped in there. I just want to be seen as a Jesus girl. A follower of Christ. A pursuer of God. Don’t you?
I would be a complete liar if I said I could understand what they are going through. I don’t. I can’t possibly. I am not an immigrant. I am not African American. I am not gay. I am not Muslim. I am who I am and where God placed me, but I am not any of these that I just mentioned, so I will not presume to place myself in the shoes of those who are. I do hope that my friends who are in those shoes know that I love them and I am sad they are hurting. I know their hurt is real.
At the same time, I keep seeing all over, and some on my own feed, Christians basically telling these same communities to suck it up or get over it. Let’s be clear, I am not condoning the violence that is occurring. Frankly, neither are my friends nor the vast millions across America feeling hurt and uncertainty. As with anything, the actions of a few do not speak for the whole at large. Not at all.
Yet, I still feel strongly we need to do better. At a time in American history when so many eyes are on the Christian community, we need to do better.
“At a time in American history when so many eyes are on the Christian community, we need to do better.” @SouthJerseyMama
You and I need to be sure that we are conveying our passion for the Lord and conveying it where that passion counts. I know that I have been convicted this past month to really take a look at myself and what my passions, priorities, words and actions say about me. How about you?
To those of you who are so worried about what to tell your children, I say this: You teach them the same thing I said above and then you tell them to go love God and love others.
Until next time, remember He has your back.