I have so much to say…and yet I can’t bring myself to say most of it. Currently I have 36 blog posts saved in my drafts. Most of them I will probably never publish. Why? Because here’s the thing…the more I shut my trap and the more I listen to other people and to God the more I realize there is just so much that I don’t know, cannot know, will never know. It seems to me that nothing is as simple as one blanket statement. Nothing.
(Except for this one statement I made just now.) As I’ve watched everything blow up over the last few days I am amazed at how many different things I am seeing. It is hard for me to comprehend the whole situation.
That being said. I wanted to take the time to write out a few of my own thoughts simply because I need to get them out of my head and I want to remember what I was thinking during this point in history. I think I’ll make a list.
*Please remember you are not being forced to read this. However, if you do decide to read it I ask that you read the whole thing before throwing me to the wolves or praising me endlessly. I’ll probably upset everybody.*
1. I voted for Secretary Clinton...
which I alluded to on my Facebook the other day. I really don’t feel the need to justify why I voted the way I did. I am more than happy to talk with people about it (and have) if they truly cared to know my line of thinking. It wasn’t a whim and it wasn’t because she was female. I actually liked her and many of her policies.
That being said, I stand by what I wrote on Facebook the other day about being excited to vote for (potentially) the first female president. It is an exciting time to be a woman and American and see that there was a real shot for a woman to be the president of the United States. I remember in elementary school having a conversation with some of my classmates (boys) and they told me that a woman could never be president of the United States because women were not equipped enough to be president…the main reason I remember them giving was because women are too emotional. I wish I could go back and talk to myself as a young child and simply say, “You are absolutely enough. Being a woman is enough. God has gifted you and called you and being a woman is an honor not a hindrance.” I can’t wait for the opportunities to share these words with my daughters and to point back to this election and say look, “Somebody went for it. You could go for it.” It’s exciting for me.
I also wrote what I did on Facebook because I wanted to be honest and transparent. Sometimes as a pastor I have felt like I needed to hide certain things about myself (such as who I may be voting for as one example) because I didn’t want to create discord among my congregation. Here’s the thing I have been mulling over though. Disagreeing isn’t bad. Disagreeing pushes us to think thoughts we may have never thought before. It can sharpen us, challenge us, change us. What I’m learning is how to disagree in a way that is fruitful and not damaging.
One of my personal goals is to live a life of integrity and honesty. I am doing the best I can with what God has given me and I am trying to get better every day. You may decide you don’t like me based on a truth you have learned about me (example: I voted for Hillary) and that is your choice. You wouldn’t be the first person. However, I can promise you this: I would rather be open and honest and disappoint you than live a life of secrecy and dishonesty and have you praise me. I love conversation and I love conversation with people who disagree with me because as I said above it is an opportunity for me (and you) to grow. I hope I never feel like I have arrived or have nothing left to learn.
*Side note: as a pastor in my tradition I am not allowed to endorse a candidate from the pulpit nor would I ever want to. I refrained from endorsing anybody this election because it is not my place to tell anybody how to cast their vote.
(Except I did kind of harass my dad and brother…and mom…oops. Sorry guys!) My Facebook status was in no way an endorsement but rather a description of how I was feeling on election day.
2. I am so brokenhearted…
Yesterday I wept like I have never wept in my life.
Let me be clear: this is not because “my candidate” lost. I have no allegiance to either party. From the time I was old enough to register I registered as an Independent. I have voted for both Republicans and Democrats and I like (and dislike) numerous things about both parties. I voted for Secretary Clinton because at the end of the day I liked her plan for the nation better. I can respect the fact that others did not think the same way. I can respect the fact that others did not vote the same way. I have never wept over an election before and never thought I would to be honest. The times I have voted in the past and it did not go “my way” I was very much content to say, “The people have spoken and I can get on board with it.”
I wept yesterday not for policy or party lines but because of what I saw so many Christians putting out publicly on social media. “God has answered our prayers.” I can 100% not get on board with the idea that God answered prayers by giving honor to a man who has sexually abused women, berated the immigrant and foreigner (people whom God LOVES), mocked disabled people, takes advantage of the poor, incites racism and on and on.
(To be clear: I would have never said God answered my prayers if Secretary Clinton would have won. I never prayed for her to win. I actually prayed for forgiveness for voting at all for a candidate who has done many things that do not please God. I also simply prayed for both candidates that God would give them integrity and wisdom. In the past I have chosen not to vote because I felt voting would dishonor God.)
I also cannot get on board with asking people to unite under a man who has been so hateful to them. It feels like Mr. Trump has gotten a free pass to abuse people. I would never tell a woman to stay with a man who abuses her for the sake of her family. Why are we telling people who have been seriously hurt and are living in fear that they need to now “get over it” and join up with the fam. again?
(I’m not saying I want a divided America. I don’t. I am just brokenhearted over how to move forward on this.)
Here’s my issue.
We want America to be great. We want to know our religious freedoms will be protected. We want to live in a country that has Christian values. I understand the feeling and sentiment. I can appreciate it, but I really don’t think our prosperity is God’s top priority. Jesus died for the people who hated him and mocked him. Jesus went willingly to his death and refused to lift a finger to fight back (even restoring the ear of his enemy when Peter cut it off in anger.) The disciples went willingly to their deaths for their faith. The early Christians were persecuted under government: burned at the stake, thrown to wild animals, lit on fire and used as lanterns. Their countries were not great, they did not have religious freedom but instead of focusing their energy on trying to obtain and achieve those things they focused their energy on love of other. They were known for their kindness and compassion. They were known for welcoming unwanted people into their homes. Their eyes were set first and foremost of the message of the gospel (good news) that no matter what there is a greater hope and love that is available right now.
So I wept yesterday because I feel like the church is slipping away. I feel like the church cares more about America than it does about the message of Christ. This is a total loaded statement and very untrue for some. I know that. It will probably bother a lot of people that I just said it and I fully understand that and I know that it may not even be fair to say it. But yesterday I wept because I felt like we have so lost who Jesus has called us to be for the sake of something far less worthy and great: America.
I’m so sad to see blacks, Hispanics, Muslims being persecuted. I am so sad to see Christians laughing at others pain. I am so sad to see Christians engaging in destructive behavior as protest. I am so sad. Across the board I am so sad.
This brings me to my next thought. I wrote this on Facebook yesterday.
This election has given me much opportunity for self-reflection as I ask myself some hard questions:
1. Am I who I want to be?
2. What steps do I need to take to become the person I want to be?
3. I have been and need to continue to self-reflect…
I blasted everybody else…now I’m going to blast myself. I realized I’ve gotten lazy. I say that I care about a number of issues…but was it really that I was content to vote somebody into office who would do the work on the issues? If that’s the case, how much do I really care about the issues at all? That does not feel good to say out loud.
Have I taken care of an immigrant?
How am I actively serving the poor?
What have I been doing to help take care of our planet?
Have I engaged with somebody who is thinking about abortion or at-risk for abortion?
Is my friend group diverse?
Do I spend time with Vets or assist in their homecoming and recovery?
My vote only counts for so much. My voice on the matter only counts for so much. But if I am not living out the messages I preach (or more importantly who God has called me to be) than what am I really besides another Facebook post, tweet, Instagram picture. Nothing. There is no substance.
Part of why I have been so quiet is because I have a lot of work to do that starts with myself.
(Can I ask you what you are doing to make a difference on the issues you so adamantly care about?)
4. I have learned some great leadership lessons…
through this election process. I have been keeping a private journal of the leadership lessons I have learned over the past year or so and add to it whenever something new pops up. Mr. Donald J. Trump. Wow. This is what I have learned from him: Confidence is key. Like him, hate him do you know who believed in him the most? Himself.
(Grammar police: how am I doing? I feel like I’m doing a bad job.) He owned what he said good or bad and he continued to tell people that he was right. It drove me absolutely insane. He said he didn’t know if he would admit defeat. It drove me absolutely insane. Yet, he taught me that confidence matters. People will move forward when their leader knows where he/she is going.
And that my friends, are my thoughts on this election in a nutshell.