I sat down to write a cute quirky one liner about my night. The more thought I put into the words, the night, the week, the implications … the more I realized one line would not do.
The past year has been full of words that have been like daggers into the lives of dear friends, family, and strangers. From everyone. We can’t turn on our televisions without hearing hate or fear. Without our televisions we turn to radio then social media then our news apps and beyond. Everything surrounding us is nothing but one liners filled with hatred.
Simply posting a news update on social media led friends to sending novellas via direct messages to their friends about how terrible one candidate was over the other. We’ve stopped being kind. We’ve stopped showing love. We’ve stopped caring about those around us. Easily we sit opposite a screen not looking anyone in the face as we say things that wedge and divide us from one another.
One line will not fix what we have set in motion.
As a white female Christian things have been said to me or directed at me that have cut, and yet I watch as those who are of a different skin color or from a different country or of a different gender identity as myself have been blasted far worse than me. All I want to do is reach over and hug them. Tell them that I love them. More than my love, but God loves them. From that I have been criticized. My salvation called into question. Asked what has led me to this point.
One line cannot answer those questions. One line will not fix the hurt that I feel or those who have heard worse feel.
Tuesday night was painful for a number of reasons. Not because “my” candidate (as others said for me) didn’t win, but because the one who did win has openly slandered so many of different races. Has claimed sexual harassment as “locker room” talk and has a court date in December (2016) for raping a 13 year old girl. Am I sad I didn’t see a woman become president at this point in my life? Yes. Is that what made me physically ill when I realized who did win? No. Not even close.
Having spent my adult life working with people of other races, religions, cultures, and backgrounds I’m terrified for what comes next for them. I’m embarrassed and horrified at what my homeland’s new elected leader has said about their religions and races and countries. None of these are monolithic cultures. Not one of them. America alone is not monolithic and we should not project the same onto others.
One single line cannot correct this or scrub from our minds what we’ve all be subjected to hearing, seeing, or saying.
As a Christian, I’ve been taught in church nearly every Sunday that in a relationship love is a choice. There are days when you don’t want to love your spouse or partner, but you choose to do so. This is true of all relationships. I choose to love my friends and my family even when it is hard. When relationships break – for any reason – I choose to still love them. As I pray for those I love, I pray for that love to be selfless. Selfish love accomplishes nothing. Jesus showed us the most selfless love of all and that is the example we -as Christians – are to be to others. There are so many verses that remind us to love:
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Romans 13: 10
“Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”
I Corinthians 13: 4-9
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.”
“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.”
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity”
There are so many more. So. Many. More. Seeing the hatred and the division is painful. It is even more painful knowing how many Christians are part of this. Who actively chose this to represent themselves and the country. According to exit polls reported by everyone from Christianity Today to the Washington Post, 81 percent of evangelical Christians voted for a Trump presidency. I walked out of church after hearing my – at the time – pastor tell the congregation that the biblical vote would be for a specific party. I would have walked out if the pastor would have said any party, as no political party is directly affiliated with a religious institution – this is another blog for another time.
While Tuesday and Wednesday I felt sick at seeing the outcome I began seeing that there were others who felt this way. Others who were saying, “today we mourn, tomorrow we fight.” Knowing that fighting here does not mean violence. As I have jokingly said since my freshman year of college, “violence is not the answer” this week I added another portion, “violence is not the answer, nor is silence.” I am not apologetic for loving Jesus. For knowing His word or sharing it. I am not apologetic for who I am or how I love. I am not apologetic for mourning as I watched our nation choose hate. Nor will I be apologetic for choosing to love when it is hard. Wednesday I mourned. Thursday I began to prepare for the toughest battle of all – to love my neighbor as myself.
Yesterday I spent the day at an inclusion workshop learning how to effectively engage and love others not like myself. It takes work, and I’m willing to work at loving those not like myself. I’m a white Christian woman and I only represent myself.
Tonight, I went to a Vigil of Solidarity along with two of my classmates. One of my classmates (and friends) made signs for us that read “Free Hugs” and “#hugsquad” because everyone deserves a hug. Everyone deserves a “squad.” My “squad goals” as a child may have been to be in the “cool” group, but now those goals have changed to make everyone feel loved and welcome and valued. This is how Christ made me feel when I felt unloved and unwelcome and worthless. As a Christian I am called to love. Some times that love is difficult and comes with hard conversations. It starts first with reaching out, making someone feel welcome and safe, and inviting them into our lives.
Learning to love someone of a different race, religion, background, gender identity, (and anything else I may have missed) is something worth fighting for no matter how hard that fight may be. Jesus did not yell hateful speech, nor will I. He did not criticize or bully, nor will I. Adam and Eve fell with 1 action. Jesus selflessly gave Himself as a blood sacrifice as an act of love. Love is painful at times, but it is the best thing you or I have to offer anyone.