It's about this darned mess of an election. But, not about the candidates or election themselves. It's the painful declarations being made by people I know and love. I have no problems with differences of opinion. But it's deeply painful to read posts that essentially declare it's my way or the highway.
"If you supported the candidate I oppose, I don't want to know why. I know what you are. Just unfriend me now."
"If you supported the candidate I oppose, you are responsible for the coming destruction."
"If you supported the candidate I oppose, you aren't following God's will/clearly your faith is lacking/I doubt whether you are truly a Christian" or "You hate gay people/you're a white supremacist/you hate immigrants/you don't care if we all die of covid."
I had a really, really hard time making my decision in this election. I prayed. I researched. I discussed. I contemplated. That said, I never felt even once a draw to vote for Trump. My convictions about him since long before 2016 have been, let us say, very negative, and my conscience does not allow me to even consider it. My journey was about whether I could in good conscience vote for candidates that support certain things I feel are immoral. Whether I should vote for Biden/Harris or a third party. In the end, with sadness, I voted for Biden, wishing that there was some other path I could take. My point in telling you all this is that my decision was not made lightly, and it was made with deep thought and research and examination of my beliefs about what leaders should and shouldn't be. I prayed for wisdom. And I continue to pray for our sitting president in the midst of all his follies.
I also know many other Christians who voted for Trump, and I am not condemning them for it. I believe they also made deep, soul-searching attempts at figuring out how they should vote. I am talking about specific people that I know, here, not making generalities. At times I feel they are living in a completely different universe, receiving totally different inputs and information, so vast is the gap in how we see and interpret the president's words and actions. But I know *them* and they are not racists or bigots. They, as far as I can tell, have an entirely different way of viewing the government and its involvement in people's lives, and it is more out of these convictions that they make their choices than about the specific person running for president (I think the same can be said for many Biden supporters). As I said, I am only speaking regarding people I know personally. I am not speaking for all of Trump's supporters. Both candidates appear to have passionate cult-like followers who love and unwavering support them, no matter what. This scares me, especially when I see it among Christians.
I voted for Bush and I voted for Biden and I voted third party other years, with deep consideration and sadness about the lack of candidates that I could really vote with hope about... but I still love Jesus, and I long for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. He's the greatest passion of my heart. I try to listen to and obey him, not the clamoring voices and opinions of our culture. I love to be with other people who have this same passion about being with Him, whose heart's desire is for Him to infiltrate and renew every ounce of their being, and make them His hands and feet on earth to bless and serve everyone they encounter.
I speak now to fellow Christians. Brothers and sisters who I have known in the many different places we have lived and traveled. People I have eaten with, prayed with, studied the Bible with, who have brought me meals and cleaned my house when I was incapacitated. People I've served with, sung with, laughed with, and rejoiced in Jesus together with.
It hurts enough when friends who are not Christians post things that apparently condemn me. But when you, who share in common with me our greatest Joy and Heart's Desire, post statements that apparently cut me out of your life or harshly judge me if you knew how I thought or how I voted, it is like a punch in the gut as I scroll through my newsfeed. I take it personally. Did you ever think about that? Would you say such things to my face in person over a meal?
I love to have discussions with people who think differently. We have the opportunity to sharpen each other, grow in understanding and patience, and learn... maybe even an opportunity to discover faulty thinking in ourselves and embrace something better. But these conversations never happen when one person makes blanket assumptions about the other and puts out statements that say "my way is so right there's no point in even talking about it... if you disagree, well, I've already made my mind up about what sort of person you are."
I'm seeing a lot of posts that, if said to my face, would make me clam up and tears stream down my face. If I were visiting churches and I walked into one full of people saying things like this, I would turn around and keep looking. If we were having dinner together, I wouldn't be able to eat another bite until we had come to an understanding that that sort of talk is painful and wounding.
My kids argue a lot. They feel the compelling need to point out, loudly, whatever their siblings are doing or saying that they don't like. They feel extremely sure of themselves and that their opinion on the matter needs to be heard. Sometimes shouting leads to pushing, slapping, bigger sibs using their strength to grab and turn the disagreer upside down, or the smaller sib using sneaky underhanded tactics to exert power. I have told them every way possible to try to restrain themselves from making EVERYTHING a battle. To ignore remarks. To remove themselves from the room and take deep breaths. It can be deeply painful for me, because what I really want to see is self-control, consideration, kindness, and my children serving each other out of love.
This metaphor explains my yearning for how I long to see my friends, and especially my Christian family members, treating each other. To stop finding hills to die on and instead engaging with love and thoughtfully leading with tastefully salted words toward what is good and beautiful and right. Some of you are absolutely brilliant at doing this, and you are a blessing to me and countless others. Others of you: I know from my past interactions with you that you are capable of doing this too. Grow, my friends, please. Imagine you are sitting having a nice meal and conversation with me... would you say out loud, directly to me, what you are posting online? Or would you try to find some other way to disagree or express your frustrations about what you see happening out there in the world?