This week, as I’ve processed the outcome of our Presidential election, I keep returning to my lifetime go-to Bible verse:
“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds.” Philippians 4:6-7
I am sad. I am disappointed. I am angry. And I think I will continue to be for awhile. After I’ve allowed myself space to grieve, I’m going to think hard about positive things I can do. In the meantime, I find things to be thankful for:
God is in charge and has a plan. Regardless of the outcome of the election, I know a gracious and merciful God is in charge. I believe there is a greater plan. With that assurance, I can choose not to be anxious and afraid.
The election is over. During the campaign, although I had a strong opinion about who I believed the better candidate was, I increasingly chose to keep my thoughts to myself. I found social media to be a toxic environment, and even personal conversations could become confrontational, even threatening. The most disturbing aspect of this election, for me, was the rupture of relationships. I read with horror vicious personal attacks launched on social media based solely on differing political views. The tone of discourse was upsetting. It seemed difficult, if not impossible, for people to “agree to disagree” on the candidates. This election depressed and exhausted me, stressed me out, and I’m relieved that it is finally over.
The candidates’ closing speeches. I am grateful for the conciliatory tone Trump struck in his victory speech, and I hope that his supporters follow his lead. I listened to Hillary’s concession speech, and I was astounded at her grace, strength and composure in the face of such crushing disappointment. Her charge to young women to carry on the fight was an inspirational model of determination and fortitude. I believe that, even though she fell short in her bid to become the first female President of the United States, Hillary Clinton’s legacy will include the significant advancement of women in this country.
A peaceful transition. The election has been likened to a “movement” or a “revolt.” Whether or not I agree with the direction, the electorate spoke through an orderly balloting process, and I am thankful that we live in a country where such extreme directional changes can occur without bloodshed. I am also thankful that the portion of the electorate that feels deep concerns about the outcome has the constitutional right to peaceful protest. I was almost more anxious about the immediate aftermath of the election than the election itself. It is also remarkable that we have a nation where bitter political rivals Trump and Obama have already met to discuss the transition of power amicably. My prayer is that our democratic process continues to be a beacon to the rest of the world.
Group therapy. I believe this election presents an opportunity for healing in our country. Like a dysfunctional family, I’ve been reflecting on how poorly we’ve treated one another, how misunderstood we all seem to feel. I pray that all sides can learn to listen to the concerns of the other, to find common ground and not turn every issue into a zero sum game. My personal challenge is to better listen to and understand those I don’t agree with. In today’s sermon, our pastor preached on Luke 21:13, which is an admonition for Christians to, in the midst of suffering and persecution, look at these circumstances as “an opportunity to testify.” In other words, to tell my personal story, not a point-by-point argument for my opinions and beliefs. Likewise, I should be curious and open to hear others’ stories, particularly those with whom I have the most differences. It is at that level of personal dialogue that bridges can be rebuilt.
Marijuana is now legal in California. Last but not least, though I’m not a pot-smoker, the next four years could just make me one. (Just kidding.)