This week I was dealing with what everyone else was dealing with—the election. I have so many thoughts concerning the events of this last week that it’s been hard to nail down one topic. I want to begin by saying I’m sorry.
I’m sorry to those of you who experienced a loss this week. I know it’s more than just winning and losing, though. It feels like hopelessness because it’s difficult to see how any good can come from the results. I’m sorry that you are wading through feelings of anger, confusion, surprise, and even disgust.
I’m sorry to those who chose not to vote because, for you, either way felt like a loss. You anticipated grieving due to the election of a person you did not believe in. I’m sorry you had to make such a difficult decision.
I’m sorry to those who supported our President Elect because you are facing the harsh emotions of those who are angry over the results. You have been lumped into one giant group and have been called names you feel undeserving of. I’m sorry you feel attacked, even from close friends and family members.
I’m sorry to all Americans who endured the hardest election season of your lives. This was not easy for anyone and it continues to be very difficult for those who have lost their hope in the election process and in their fellow Americans.
Why such heightened emotions?
I believe what happened during this election is, because most of us felt there was not the “perfect” candidate, we were forced into a difficult, vulnerable position of making a decision we weren’t entirely sure of. It’s easy to make a decision when our hearts and our heads agree, but this was probably not one of those times.
What this does to us is cause fear and uncertainty. The idea of choosing the wrong candidate can definitely cause some inner turmoil. At times, I felt like I didn’t want to vote at all, which many people chose to do for conscience’s sake. I don’t blame them!
Other people reacted to feelings of uncertainty by turning to outside sources. This article tells me to vote for her, but now this article tells me to vote for him! While it’s very important to be informed and know the facts, I think sometimes we can get stuck reading, researching, and polling because we’re fearful of making the wrong choice.
In “The Gifts of Imperfection”, Brene Brown cites fear of the unknown and fear of being wrong as the biggest producers of conflict and anxiety (88). What I saw during this election season were people looking to outside sources to alleviate their internal conflict and anxiety. These manifest in judgment, name-calling, blaming, rationalizing, and over-spiritualizing.
When I see someone going on a hate-filled rant, I am deeply saddened thinking of the amount of fear and anxiety they are feeling. When I see blaming and name-calling, I see it for what it is—a feeble attempt to feel right. Just like bullying, if I can make you feel bad, that means I’m better. Or, in this case, if I can prove that you made a poor decision, that makes my decision the correct one.
No right decision
When it comes down to it, there was no “right” decision. If you feel as though you made the only correct choice, you are most likely judging those who voted differently. In this election, there were just millions of people faced with a difficult decision and doing the best they could.
If we can believe this about our fellow man, think about the unity that would be possible. In the meantime, all I see are people blaming, judging, stereotyping, and truly believing the worst of others. I applaud the few out there who have been intentional about spreading kindness, hope, and love during this difficult time.
“He who seeks good finds goodwill, but evil comes to him who searches for it” (Proverbs 11:27). What are you searching for in others? As hard as it is, we need to assume the best of others. Assume that we all did the best we could in a tough situation. The inner turmoil you went through and are possibly still wading through at this moment is something most Americans experienced. There’s common ground there no matter how you voted.
In the end, my heart for this country is that we would experience unity like never before—a unity that comes from common vision and respect for differences, not false unity of teaming up against a shared enemy.
My heart hurts for what our country is going through at this time. So much confusion, anger, disappointment, and hatred. It’s important that we are all able to take ownership of these feelings and don’t hold anyone else accountable for making us feel better.
What can I do?
When you have taken ownership, turn to God and release that burden to Him. Ask for insight. Ask what He would have you do during this time to display kindness and ignite hope. How can you help those around you? Can you listen and empathize as someone vents his frustrations? Can you rejoice with those who are rejoicing? Can you restore hope to the broken-hearted? Can you display faith when others are filled with fear and hopelessness?
Calm in the midst of the storm
I’m reminded of the story of Jesus calming the storm:
“The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’ He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’”
Jesus wasn’t calm because everything was going perfectly. He was calm before He spoke peace to the waves. In fact, it was His internal reality that affected the external around Him.
Yet we as Christians are being rocked by what’s going on in our nation right now. How can we have any influence if we are allowing everything to affect us? Jesus did not become panicky and fearful during the storm, and neither should we.
The lesson in this is the understanding of where our peace comes from. Our peace does not come from our ability to control other people or our environment. We cannot say, “If I could only make this person think this way, if I could only prove how I’m right and you’re wrong, if I could only figure out how to change my circumstances… then I will feel better.”
Wrong. This will not bring peace. Jesus is our Prince of Peace. Peace is not our circumstances; it’s a person, a relationship. He’s our anchor in the storm, our strong tower of refuge, and our friend in time of need.
Faith is key
I believe the key to wading through these unsure times is faith. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is also defined as complete trust in God. In what or in whom are we trusting? Our logic? Our reasoning? Our rightness? A person? Our government?
When I read through Hebrews 11 (heroes of the faith), I see how faith is not merely a belief. It’s not an intellectual understanding either. Faith is a risky step taken on the assuredness of God’s promises. It’s believing in the goodness of God, knowing that we cannot predict His actions or fully understand His ways, but we can count on His absolute goodness. It’s seeing our circumstances from God’s perspective, allowing Him to lift us up out of the murky waters and position us to see beyond what we could see in the natural. And when we’re able to see from God’s perspective, our current worries seem pretty miniscule.
I hope this article challenges you and encourages you. It’s ok if you’re not at the place of peace in the midst of the storm. Continue to seek the Prince of Peace. It’s ok if you’re dealing with discouragement, anxiety, fear, and anger. We have a God who comforts. It’s ok if you’re confused and don’t know where to turn. We have a God who guides us and imparts wisdom.
As you probably realized, you will not find relief and understanding from social media. It’s pretty much a warzone the past few days. That is our invitation to open our hearts to God and let Him see us and know us whether we’re doing great or we’re completely hopeless. God can handle our emotions. He’s not afraid of your sadness or anger. Allow Him to take your burden and lift you to a higher perspective.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5).