It was Election Day, and my Journalism students entered the classroom vigorously debating the merits—or lack thereof—of the U.S. presidential candidates.
I told them that it was fine to have opinions, but they needed to be civil to each other. Upon which some defended their freedom of speech, only to be reminded that teachers do have some authority in the classroom.
But later I realized: they were only mimicking what they’ve been seeing adults do all over the country, not to mention the candidates themselves. And actually, their sparring was rather tame by comparison.
It’s been rather a rough week, hasn’t it, friends?
I haven’t been sure what to write for this blog. I haven’t even been sure what to think about this election myself, and I don’t want to get pulled into partisan arguments. But my heart has been often heavy.
I know there are people of good heart and genuine faith on both sides, who voted for both candidates with noble intent. But the hatred this election has brought out—on both sides—the fear, the outright bigotry and violence. It’s hard to even believe some of the stuff I’ve seen, though I don’t doubt it.
And I grieve for those who might now feel unwelcome in this land, or like their very families and lives might be threatened. Even though I know that, as a white U.S. citizen, I cannot fully understand how it feels. And I also know people who have been attacked and blamed for making choices that helped lead to this election outcome, yet were doing what they thought right.
But in the midst of all this, the Lord keeps reminding me of reasons to hope. And of ways we can help be part of the solution, not the problem. So I wanted to share a few of them with you. I’d love to hear your thoughts as well!
Reason for Hope #1: We have a God who is with us
I seen several friends share that “God is still on the throne” posts can come across as trite and oblivious, at least when coming from people of privilege who may not be as affected by the outcome of this election as others are. And that makes sense. But it remains true that we do not have a “hands off” God. He not only is on the throne, He is Immanuel, God with us, a God who does not stay safe and far off in His “privilege” but became one of us, poor, a refugee and a young man from the wrong side of town. He cares intimately about what happens to His people. And He is the only source of true healing and understanding and reconciliation.
Reason for Hope #2. God’s Kingdom is not of this world, but it is here
It’s so easy for us Christians in America, left or right, to start seeing our country as the center of the universe. But Jesus never meant for his followers to establish or swear allegiance to an earthly kingdom. Instead, His Kingdom is here, now, “among” us—yet completely outside of any earthly political scheme, structure, or party.
And I see His Kingdom coming—in little ways, as it usually does, like mustard seeds and yeast and a newborn baby in a feed trough. But I see it…in being able to have good, honest, and respectful conversations with friends and coworkers of different cultural backgrounds and perspectives…in the many believers I see urging toward love, respect, and healing rather than hate and division…in my own students as they laugh and work and play together regardless of their many ethnic and political differences. In all the ways I know God is powerfully at work in countries around the world, as I mentioned in this post a few weeks ago.
Our Lord is with us, and He is at work. He isn’t going to stop.
So, what can we do?
- Work toward healing, even in little ways
I saw the movie Hacksaw Ridge with my husband and his dad and brother this weekend (though I had to close my eyes a few times—lots of wartime gore). But I was struck by the words of the protagonist, Desmond Doss, a conscientious objector who wants to be an army medic but not carry a gun:
“With the world so set on tearing itself apart, it don’t seem like such a bad thing to me to want to put a little bit of it back together.”
Despite being derided as a coward, he ended up saving 75 wounded men—American and Japanese—single-handedly in one horrific battle when most of his comrades retreated, continually asking the Lord to help him get “just one more.”
So what might the Lord have us do, to help “put a little bit of the world back together”?
I don’t feel like I’m very good at it yet. But I’m asking Him to show me how…whether it’s reaching out to a student who needs a caring word or ear, smiling at a Muslim woman cashier at the department store, or learning to have courage to speak up on conversation when I might disagree…something I’m still working on.
- Be kind
It might seem cliche, but kindness has been noticeably lacking lately. And with kindness as one of the prime fruits of the Spirit, shouldn’t we followers of Jesus display it more than anyone? I saw one of my seniors studying when I was on break at school today, and I thought of how she is just so consistently kind. And it is a blessing. So I stopped and told her so.
As Mrs. Patmore says to Daisy in an episode of Downton Abbey, speaking of quiet, homely, often-pushed-aside Mr. Mosely (something like this):
“He’s a kind man. We should always appreciate people who are kind—there’s few enough of them in the world.”
- Pursue beauty
I’ve been thinking again this week of the power of story, art, music, and theater to touch us like political debate and social division never can. Politics and kings come and go, but powerful stories and music endure. They capture truth and beauty in ways we can’t fully explain, but that speak deep to our souls and unite us in ways we may not understand, but that are very real.
Like this just-released trailer of Disney’s upcoming live-action Beauty and the Beast, racing across social media just now. It gave me chills when I watched it, hinting to me of the forgiveness and healing and redemption in this story that my soul craves right now—and judging by people’s responses, I’m not the only one.
Because we are made for beauty, and truth, and goodness, however much ugly we can create in the world. And our God is one who redeems.
So let’s create art that reflects that…it might be more important than we know.
Again, maybe obvious, but perhaps most important. For any battle that affects our minds and hearts and souls is not primarily “against flesh and blood.”
I know I am so busy I often struggle to find enough time to pray—maybe you can relate. But this week I’ve been convicted that I have a good 45 minutes alone each weekday while I commute back from work to pick up my husband from the train. And I can use that time to talk with the Lord, listen, and intercede.
So…a few of my thoughts, attempted to put into words. I’d love to hear from you: how are you finding hope amidst the division and fear right now—or in your own country, if you don’t live in America? How do you think we can join in the movement of His Kingdom, here and now? Please comment and share!
Thanks, Kiersti, for expressing hope and the need to pursuit love, beauty and kindness now.
Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing, Donna. I miss you–hope we can find time to write soon!