I think it’s safe to say that, no matter where you lie on the political spectrum, this week has been crazy.
On the day after the presidential election, a progressive Christian magazine I enjoy put out a call for readers to share their stories. Wednesday was pretty turbulent for me emotionally and putting things into words is usually helps me process things, so I took the time to write about how I felt.
Usually, I keep my head down on social media when it comes to divisive current events. I try to keep away from politics and anything that will cause division, judgement, or criticism. I broke that rule on Facebook a few times this fall in outrage over our now president-elect’s words about women. In the days after the election, though, I found that there was just too much going on inside me and found the words pouring out. If I were to put my piece in a category, I would call it a lament: an outpouring of emotion that captures the pain of a moment in time.
I submitted my piece and, to my surprise, Sojourners published it on their website. Before you read this post any further, please take a moment to read the piece, which can be found here.
It’s freaky to see your words in such an open place. Sojourners’ Facebook page has 80,000 followers and, there my piece was, for all of them to see. I have no idea what the actual stats are, but as of right now, the original post received over 1,000 likes, 380 shares, and over 100 comments. When I discovered all of this, my body was physically shaking and I barely slept for the second night in a row.
As I scrolled through through the comments, countless people stated things along the lines of, “This is exactly how I feel right now”. People shared their stories of being marginalized by the church, offered encouragement, and ideas for where I can find community.
I feel so humbled by the responses. People were moved and encouraged by what I had written. Others too felt hurt, frustrated, and betrayed. My words told them that they were not alone. Their response told me that I am not alone. What an honor it is to give voice to people’s pain and to bring encouragement.
I know that there are people who are potentially offended, hurt, and frustrated by what I had to say. Goodness, I may have even offended family members and mentors who I deeply care about. Around Facebook, I’ve seen many Christians who voted for Trump upset that so many people are calling them racist. To those people, I apologize for making generalizations and judgements. There is enough hate going around and I do not mean to add to it. I did not intend my words to stir up division.
But I don’t take them back.
As I’ve gone through life, so often I push pain and frustration aside. Sometimes, it’s because there was nothing I could do to better my circumstances but try to have a positive attitude. Sometimes, it’s because things hurt too much for me to even acknowledge my emotions. This practice, though, often makes things worse.
This year, I’ve been learning to lean in, to acknowledge negative emotions, and not look away. In my article, I talked about holding empty palms to the sky–it’s okay to not have words and it’s okay to not be okay. When my heart is heavy and burdened and there is nothing I can do to make things better, I have been learning to hold my pain, to embrace it like a friend, and trust that there is room in God’s arms for all of me, even the messy bits.
So no, I’m not going to take my words back. They were honest and to pretend that I wasn’t deeply upset, to put on a fake smile and get on with things, would dishonest. People may be offended at what I had to say, but people were also encouraged. My lament was not just mine–it was the lament of many and I am so incredibly blessed to have given voice to so many people’s pain.
It’s been a few days since the election, a few days since my piece was published, and I’ve had a few days to process things.
I am still not okay, but I am getting there. I feel the beginning of healing. I accept and respect the results of the Tuesday’s voting and am preparing to step forward into what tomorrow has in store.
I rolled out of bed this morning, spent some time in my Bible, and prayed with an open and earnest heart. I’m making plans with my parents to go to church again–new churches, ones that will hopefully be inclusive and welcoming to people who feel like I do.
More than anything, I feel hopeful. I don’t know what Trump’s time in office will bring, but I still believe. I believe in God, I believe in the church, and I believe in the future of America.
I am one small person in a big, big world and there is so much that is outside of my control. But I can control my own actions. I can choose love over hatred, hope over despair. There may be dark days ahead, but I cling to the knowledge that justice will come.
Until it does, I will stand with the groups I wept for the day after the election. I stand with women. I stand with the GLBT community. I stand with people of color. I stand with immigrants. I stand with Muslims. I stand with the oppressed, the angry, and the brokenhearted.
My prayer for the days ahead is this: “Lord, show me how to love others the way you love me.” Let me show love to the people who I disagree with. Let me show love to those who have hurt me. Let me show love to people of different ethnicities, sexual orientations, religions. Let me show love to all people–for we are all made in the image of God.
I choose faith.
I choose hope.
I choose love.
Thank you for reading.