Saying last Tuesday’s election was surprising is an understatement.
Your newsfeed, like mine, was probably filled with all the election posts—and likely still is—people upset, people rejoicing; people complaining about the electoral college, people complaining about the protesters; people terrified, people exuberant.
Facebook has been an emotional roller coaster for me—some people infuriating me, others bringing me to tears. In times like this, it’s easy to sit back on supposed party lines and be too willing to die on mountains we’ve scraped together ourselves. Yet social media has also served as a great reminder of what we, as Christians, are called to do in times like this: Connect with people in their uncertainty.
Whatever side of the party lines you stand on, it’s obvious our country is hurting.
Many are grieving for a candidate who most of America thought would be the victor—as well as her policies, beliefs and perspectives. Some are grieving the progress they thought the first woman President would bring, others are grieving certain policies a Trump presidency promises.
If you know people who are upset towards the results, allow them the space to grieve—and grieve well. Don’t belittle or dismiss these feelings, even if you disagree with them.
Don’t expect people to swiftly move on because “This is how democracy works!” or “Jesus is the true King.” Both are true; yet both are unhelpful right now. As Christians, we’re called to mourn with those who mourn. Even if you aren’t saddened by the election results, making yourself a safe person for friends to turn to in this time can be the best way to be an image of Christ’s love.
Aside from grieving, a lot of people are upset right now.
Some minorities have been targeted in hate crimes. Protesters have assembled across the country. A lot of Trump supporters are feeling unfairly labeled. We’re watching the statistics of who voted for who roll in and everyone is pointing fingers—everyone is finding someone to be mad at.
Anger makes it easy to turn away and turn against each other—yet we need to turn together. Maybe you don’t see eye-to-eye on the issue your friend is upset over, but you can still look them in the eye and ask to hear more about how they’re feeling. You may feel someone is being ridiculous, but that doesn’t give you freedom to be ridiculous in your response to them.
Create a connection.
Before writing off a person completely, consider writing them a message asking if you two can meet up. Let’s walk slowly toward our commonalities, instead of racing toward our differences.
Maybe you think women have nothing to worry about under a Trump presidency. Yet talk to women in your life, and see how they are feeling. See where you can encourage them, where you can help out, but most importantly where you can mourn alongside them—maybe it’s nowhere. Maybe it’s lots of places. Maybe you believe undocumented immigrants should go back to their home country or that LGBTQ+ people shouldn’t have the right to marry or that Planned Parenthood should be defunded—you’re allowed to hold your own political views.
But never forget there’s a person on the other side of these issues; there’s a face and a story and a soul you’re actually discussing, when you’re simply discussing policies. Talk to your neighbors, talk to your co-workers, talk to your grocery store clerk.
Politics aren’t everyone’s favorite form of small talk, but you don’t have to mention the election results to get to the heart of the issue. Ask, “How are you doing?” and mean it. “How are you feeling?” and really care to know. “How can I help?” and commit to whatever may follow.
Just as our lawmakers must work together, we must find middle ground amongst ourselves to find the best way forward. And the way we begin doing that is through building bridges, listening to one another and taking action on the work that needs to be done. We need the unique gifts and voices God has gifted each of us to be working towards the same goal: His Kingdom, come.
Christians have long disagreed on policies, rules and ways of governing. Read through the New Testament and that is no secret. Yet we can all deeply love Christ and yet deeply disagree on key issues. Yet we are called to be one Body, that includes discussing and deliberating, debating and disagreeing.
Furthermore, we are called to each other: to hold our neighbors at their weakest and to celebrate them at their strongest, to walk alongside each other in the unknown and to sit together in the pain.
This unchartered territory America finds herself in may be celebration for you and pain for your neighbor but it is unknown to all of us. Let us gather together, when the enemy would love nothing more than to tear us, even further, apart.
We don’t have to agree on every law or lawmaker—all we have to agree on is Who is ultimately in charge.