When our world is in chaos, we humans do the only thing we know to do. We try to make sense of it.
We stretch our minds to find any threads of sense in what seems like a nonsensical situation.
We cry, we laugh, we scream, we fight. But at the end of the day, our brains get to work. We start asking why and trying to figure out exactly 'what's going on'. We grasp at any semblance of normalcy we can find. When our world (either macro or micro) seems out of control, our focus often narrows to pinpoint precision. We zero in on our latitude and longitude and wonder how this chaos will affect us and those we care about.
I'm sure I don't have to convince you that last week was just such a week in the United (some may say Divided) States of America. Suffice it to say, Election Day did NOT roll out like so many supposed. Far from it.
It is no secret that I was not a fan of either candidate. That's not exactly earth shattering news because I can't find many who were. Even though I was hoping God would orchestrate some secret, divine "third" option in the wee hours of the morning, that was not the case. We all woke up on Wednesday and found out that while we slept (or hardly slept a wink) Donald Trump was indeed crowned President Elect of the good old US of A.
I'm sure I also don't need to convince you that the outcome has just about torn this country in two. I would venture to guess if Hillz had won, it would be the same thing. Fear was bound to rear its ugly head and strike the hearts of a large number of American citizens, it was just a matter of which of ones. If it wasn't clear before now, it is obvious there are cavernous political factions among us.
Many of you have decided to stay off social media and keep the roar of outside news to a minimum. Kudos to you. I have not been able to do that. I have watched in real time as "Facebook friends" post and repost articles that ultimately (we circle back to the top of this post) help them make sense of the world. And to make matters worse -- many of those articles, both pre & post election, may not even be true!
Since those preliminary days (which was only last week), my mind hasn't gotten much clearer about the world or the political happenings. In fact, things seem to only get more bizarre. Over the last few days, however, I have felt several key ideas settle into my heart. A few cornerstones of thought I'm adding to my days in the name of health and wellness and a desire to find my truth and move forward. (And by the way, I didn't find any of these on Facebook.)
1. "People need to have their say, even if they don't get their way." -- Pastor Tim McConnell, First Pres Church, Colorado Springs
These stories flying around matter. We may vehemently disagree or not read them at all, but as a writer myself, I understand the need get something off your chest before it threatens to implode you entirely. People desperately want to be seen, heard, and understood. We want to know that our lives, our perspectives and stories matter. I don't necessarily need you to agree with me personally, but I do need to know that you hear me and respect my story. Sometimes the greatest way to alleviate pain and anxiety is to share our stories, our truth with another person. To get things out into the light. To be heard. The internet just broadens the number of potential listeners.
2. "Don't take in information that you don't have context for." -- Pastor Eric Johnson, Bethel Church, Redding, CA
This is where we need to execute DISCERNMENT with a capital D. The internet is an infinite chasm of information, of stories, if you will. Scrolling through Twitter or Facebook often feels like drinking from a fire hose. One click or comment can thrust you into a rabbit hole of gargantuan, time-sucking proportions. If I am going to take time to read things, to listen to other people's stories, I have GOT to figure out a way to process what I'm hearing. Instead of a knee-jerk reaction, I need to slow down and sleep on it. I need to think, pray, read and gather alternative viewpoints before I can ultimately conclude my own. There are no shortcuts here.
3. My Truth is God's Truth.
Listen, I'm not naive. I'm just as torn up and flummoxed as the next person about the state of the world. I know that we can't gloss over everything with a magic wand. But for me personally, my faith is paramount and the absolute foundation of who I am and how I operate in the world. If I'm not taking time to reorient myself in God's word and asking the Holy Spirit for divine wisdom, I will become what is most natural to me, what I have fought against my whole life. I will become a plastic bag, drifting through the wind, wanting to start again. (Stellar analogy cred to Katy Perry for that one.) The point is, without God's word and presence in my life, I am a complete and utter basket case. Word.
4. We Must Be True to What We Know.
A few days ago, a good friend of mine, messaged me on Facebook. He sought me out as "one who has voiced thoughts that are different than what many of your friends may be saying." The article attached to the post that he wanted me to read made my stomach turn. (You can read it here). No matter who you voted for or how you see the world, this type of stuff is just yucky. After reading it, I replied to my friend and told him my stomach was in knots. I was sad that, in truth or perception, Christians are often viewed as some of the meanest people in the world. His response stunned me.
He wrote, "Well, if the Christian god is real and the Christian message is true, you are the most free people on the planet to love without reservation. I think I read somewhere that perfect love casts out all fear. Or maybe I'm just making that up. Be true to what you know."
There it is, friends. This much I know is true...
"Any kingdom at war with itself is doomed. A city or home divided against itself is doomed."
-- Matthew 12:25
I pray we can listen and love and build from here.
I just may need to take a sabbatical from social media in order to do so.
Does anyone else feel like culture is changing at break neck speeds? Or has every generation before me said the same thing? It just feels like even in the past few weeks, I have repeatedly rehearsed the phrase, "What is happening in this world?" I can't seem to keep up. I am saying the same thing inside the walls of my own home. "What is happening?" It's as if there is something in the air and I keep looking to find a solid posture to take, but the wind won't stop blowing, so I can't find my footing. I want to just find a cabin in the woods, crawl under a down blanket with a flashlight and reexamine what I believe and remind myself over and over, who is in charge of this world and my little bitty world. In an effort to replicate that scene in real life, Megan and Christina and I have all deleted Facebook off of our phones and will be replacing those minutes (Lord, help me if it's hours), with studying II Timothy. I don't know what will come of it, and I think it will be harder than I think, to de-facebook my phone, but I up for the challenge if it means a some solid ground.
These are the strangest times...or are they? Do we feel unsettled because of what is happening in the world or because of what we are consuming?
I, for one, have felt this slow slide into a fearful, angry sense of the world all while hooking my hopes to humans who will never be able to save anyone or anything.
So the time has come -- let's re-align our perspectives and start neighboring, friending and loving such that all of the madness on capital hill fades in the light of the True work in the world that we get to join. Thanks for this jolt of good news in the midst of the bleary season, Megan.