To say that I am sad today would be an enormous understatement. My heart is so, so heavy I can barely focus. I’ve cried more than a handful of times and truly, a gut-wrenching, soul-spearing mournful cry. I’m going to try to remain neutral as I share the contents of my heart on this historic and quite frankly, mind-blowing day. I left the house for all of twenty minutes this morning and met anxiety, bitterness and hostile words at every turn. I’m not ignorant of the severity and enormity of the situation. I’m not immune to the implications. I feel the desperation. I see the disbelief on the faces around me. I feel the anxiety more so than usual. Quite honestly, I feel it more than most and I am so sad. My soul aches for those who are hurting, those who expected a different outcome. I’ve heard it said many times that there was no good option. I’m not sure I disagree, but the frustration in that belief is that it leaves us where? Devoid of elation, excitement and confidence? Left alone with our collective conscience, our fleeting hopes and our best guesses? Isn’t that what life is for the most part anyway? Is there any certainty other than death? If there were, there would be no reason to debate, no difference of opinion, no diversity, no chance to learn and grow and better ourselves. Having said that, what happened this week happened and I will not be the first or the last to say, “it’s time to move on.” Enter my bleeding heart. Millions of Americans have a grim reality to deal with today, a letdown of epic proportions and a hurt that feels insurmountable and hangs in the air like a dark and foreboding cloud. This.Takes.Time. There may be a lengthy healing process and a period of mourning that hopefully will find its way to acceptance and hope and THAT is why I chose to enter into terrifying territory and write this post. I’m not excited about it. I don’t feel the need to disclose my preference for President of the United States. Frankly, I don’t care anymore about how it all played out. What led me to write today was an overwhelming urge to remind myself and hopefully others, that our littles are watching and we, as a nation are under a microscope. What a remarkable and magnificent opportunity we have!
Ours was a house divided. Some of us were on the fence. Some of us were not confident even when we finally chose. And some of us did not waiver in their convictions from beginning to end. Let me first clear the elephant out of the room. I recognize that my littles are seven and nine and I am extremely careful not to weigh them down with things they cannot possibly comprehend. I temper my answers with age-appropriate phrases and less-is-more notions. Having said that, they are curious and ask a lot of loaded questions. I have done my best to indulge their curiosity without forcing my values on them. I have always shared my beliefs with them openly and honestly and always close the conversation with something along the lines of, “Please remember these are my beliefs. You will meet many people who value very different things and that is why it is most important to me that you treat them with kindness and grace. Be open minded and learn as much as you can about as many things as possible. And then make up your own mind.” The littles were split and when they “voted” at school their votes fell along different party lines (indulge me for a moment). That means, one or more of us did not emerge victorious. They have watched us over the last few years try to weed through the lies and the insults, try to rationalize our fears and justify our stance. They have seen us grapple with our own limitations and struggle to make sense of a seemingly senseless and broken system. They have traveled with us to an extent on an exhausting journey and they saw it end last night. So how do I compartmentalize the ultimate end to this journey? I wish I knew what the future held so I could assure them we are in good hands. I wish I could instill in them a confidence that defies explanation. I cannot. Truth is I am and will continue to pray fervently for this country that I love and for its leaders and for its youth. What I can do, however, at this very moment in time is to be an example and try to navigate these times with hope and optimism.
We had a conversation before I dropped them off this morning. I told them that they would likely encounter angry, hurt and frustrated friends today (most of whom do not realize the words they are espousing were fed to them and actually make very little sense to their ever-evolving minds). What matters on a day like today is not who won the election. What matters is how we handle the victory and the defeat. I implored them quite honestly, to avoid the conversation at all costs, but if they were confronted, to be sensitive and patient, kind and compassionate, humble and gracious. What I hope to impart to my children is a lesson in humanity. I am seeking to raise my children with an absence of entitlement and an existence of dignity. I am hoping their foundation will be built on hard work, diligence, staying the course and a belief that nothing comes without cost and great responsibility. I hope they recognize that sacrifices are an unfortunate necessity and that there is a great and rewarding satisfaction when success is earned rather than inherited. I hope they are keenly and infinitely aware and thankful for both their blessings and their struggles. I pray they recognize that they are but one link on an endless chain and it is their duty and privilege to ensure that chain remain intact and not be broken. I’ve seen a hundred or so posts today about what to tell the children who are in tears, fearful of the next four years. My children did not wake up this morning weeping and fearful and if they had, I would fear that I had done them a great disservice. My job as a parent is to ensure a safe and secure environment for my children despite the circumstances around them. I am not delusional. They will learn in due time that the world is not a safe place. They will learn that life is not always fair and just and predictable. They learned the latter this morning. They will have many opportunities to confront fear, anxiety and uncertainty in their short lives, but home, MY home will be a haven. I will teach my children that hope is second to none, that compassion and grace are to be valued above all. That kindness is not a trait we exhibit intermittently and put into practice during anti-bullying week. Kindness counts every minute of every hour of every day.
I have always fancied myself a realist and I love to talk ad nauseum. My poor babies! I don’t shy away from the tough talks. I am constantly questioning when it is acceptable to share my life experiences with them. I want them to have a firm grasp of what they are up against. I want to be the first to educate them on the realities of life. I never talked to my children in baby talk. I probably should have done more of that. Point being, I have never been one to sugar coat and I am not about to start now. I am fatally flawed, as we all are and as hard as I try, I fall short at every turn, but I will not give up. I owe my children that much. And I owe it to them to be as honest as I can when it comes to challenging matters such as the present state of our nation. I refuse to shy away from opportunities to teach them valuable lessons. So what is the takeaway this time? My children woke up this morning with an understanding that life goes on, that the hope and optimism they feel about their future is still there, and that we love them no less and no more than the day before. I’m not saying I’ve got it all figured out or that I’m doing any of this right. I’m doing the best I can and am a work in progress. I have tried diligently to focus more on the process and less on the people and I’ve actually learned along with them on this one. I want them to understand why it is critical to let your voice be heard (even in California where so many people feel their vote doesn’t count). I want them to believe they can affect change regardless of the obstacles. I am teaching them that there is no gloating and no bragging AND ALSO, no pouting and no shouting.
The reality of life is that it is not fair. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. You will face adversity. You will be overlooked on occasion. You will have to work with people you don’t see eye-to-eye with and you will have to rise to the occasion on occasion. You will have minor and major differences with others. No matter how much unity we strive for, there will always be a divide because of two little things called free will and free thinking. That’s the beauty of America...we are free to believe whatever we choose. There will always be differences among us and if we can acknowledge those in a respectful and patient way, I believe we can find some form of common ground and put forth an effective, mutually beneficial society wherein no one feels they are being left behind. It is our interaction with each other, especially those we don’t agree with, that defines our character as individuals and as a nation. So how do we navigate this rise and fall roller coaster that is democracy? When others are hurting, you feel their pain and you seek to alleviate it. When others are gloating, you rise above it. You keep your head high and you press on. And when you find yourself on the short end of the stick, you do not pout, stomp your feet, take your ball and go home. You steady your resolve and cling to your beliefs. You hold your head high, stand firm in your convictions, and exude graciousness and humility. And if you find yourself at the head of the class, you do the same, because that is what my savior did. He humbled himself and did not consider himself greater than others. Philippians 2:7-8 “...rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”
I refuse to immerse myself in a sea of fear and anxiety, because I believe that perfect love cast out fear. And perfect love comes from one place only, one person, one great and loving Father. And when my children are fearful and disheartened - and they will be - they need only to look Heavenward, to put their trust in a great and powerful God. A God who can triumph over any adversity, any uncertainty. A god who transcends our understanding and defies our logic. A God who remains in control despite our best efforts to convince ourselves otherwise. A God who loves every one of us...Republican or Democrat, black or white, legal or illegal, man or woman. My God loves us all equally and unabashedly. To me, there really is no choice. He gets my vote every time. Let the healing begin!
Heavenly Father, hear our cries and heal our nation. Tend to our wounds, bottle our tears and bridge the gap. Remind us that you are in control and cast out our fear. Give us the strength, resolve and desire to put our faith and trust in you. Lead us not down a road of bitterness and hatred, but direct our paths toward your grace and mercy. We are your people and seek your counsel. We are one nation, under God and we thank you for your providence and sovereignty. And we hope in a bright and beautiful future. Amen.