Some Thoughts On The Election

Did you hear? There’s going to be a new president soon and not everyone is happy about who it’s going to be.

My opinion about the results of the election is not popular among many of my friends and family, so I felt I should clarify why I’ve had such a strong reaction to the way the election turned out. It has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the Republican won and the Democrat lost. I have zero affection, affiliation, or loyalty to either side and have never really cared about politics at all. In fact, this is only the second time I have ever voted and the first time was for the Republican candidate. I don’t agree with either side on everything or even know everything each side believes, but from what I do know, I probably fall somewhere right in the middle. For all I know, if it was a different person running as the Republican candidate, I may very well have voted for them, if I had voted at all.

So, to me, it’s not about not being able to accept that “my side” lost because I don’t have a side and, frankly, think it’s closed-minded to pick and side and stick with it no matter what, but that’s the result you get with the system we have and I can understand the thinking behind it, even if I don’t agree with it. And that was a really long sentence.

The reason I have had such a strong reaction to the way the election turned out is because of the person who was elected. All my life, I have been told by people I respect at home, at church, and at school that you shouldn’t be a bully, you should be kind to everyone, you shouldn’t hate people or be mean to them because they are different from you in some way. I’ve been told that we should accept people the way they are, even if they have made choices that we don’t agree with and find ways to show them God’s love and let them know that they are loved. I’ve been told that when you see or hear someone being mean, cruel, or hateful to someone else, that we should stand up for them and let the person who is being mean know that it’s not okay.

It’s all great advice, but throughout this election cycle I have seen and heard the same people who gave this great advice stand up for the bully and brush off the hateful rhetoric and disgusting speech as no big deal and even celebrating him for “telling it like it is” and not being politically correct. The things that have been said, condoned, and celebrated go far beyond non-PC and are completely offensive and unacceptable for anyone to say, much less the future leader of our country. And when I see and hear those who taught me how I was supposed to treat people, accept people, and love people endorsing and celebrating the person saying these things, it hurts and makes me question a lot of things.

I understand that every candidate has their flaws. I can even understand overlooking some of those flaws because you have certain issues that are important to you. What I can’t understand is how a person can rationalize voting for someone who constantly and blatantly bullies others, lies, spreads hateful messages about groups of people who are different from him, and manipulates people using their fears and biases. At what point do you say “enough is enough” and stand against this kind of message, even if it means you won’t get everything you want regarding policies and political preferences. Either that point doesn’t exist or I don’t want to see where it is if it’s beyond what we’ve seen lately. If our political preferences are more important than standing up for what’s right, then we have gone too far and we take our politics much too seriously.

If we are not willing to stand up to someone continually spouting hateful, racist, bigoted, xenophobic, misogynistic rhetoric, it feels like the things I was taught about how we are to treat others and stand up for what’s right was just a load of crap. And when we instead elect that person to lead our country, I begin to wonder if the people who teach those things even believe what they said at all. And that makes me sad, but also angry. So I guess I am just trying to process all of this.

Whether I like it or not, Donald Trump will be our next president. I may have zero respect for him and the things he has said and done, but I do and will respect the office that he has been elected to. Considering the fact that I am a Christian, straight, white male, I probably shouldn’t have much to be concerned about, but I am fearful for what it means for other groups of people in our country. The President is the person who will set the tone for our entire country and should strive to unite the country, not normalize an attitude and culture of hate and fear.

So, if the leader of our country wants to continue to be a bully, say hurtful things, and cause people to live in fear, I will be one of the people who is willing to say that it’s not right and needs to change. The things he has said about women, blacks, Hispanics, and Muslims are not right and they should not have to live in fear of what people are going to say or do to them. And when they are feeling afraid, forgotten, and unaccepted, we should not respond with what comes across as “sit down, shut up, and accept it” or platitudes about how God is in control and everything will be fine. I agree that God is in control and can use any situation for good, but when we are insensitive toward people who are hurting (especially those who don’t share our beliefs), we just come off as complete jerks and intensify the hurt they are already feeling.

I hope and pray that over the course of the next four years, Mr. Trump changes the way he speaks about people and becomes a great president. I will not root for him to fail because we are all in this together and if he fails, we all fail. I will pray for him as he leads our country and will hope that he becomes the best president we have ever had and does tremendous things during his time in leadership. But I will also continue to stand up for what is right, be a source of encouragement and comfort for those who feel forgotten or afraid, and speak out against injustice and hate so that when I teach my children how to treat people, I can do it with a clear conscience and know that I have done the same.

I have never been the most patriotic person, but I have always appreciated and been thankful for the opportunity to live in the United States. It’s not perfect, but it is good. It is a place of incredible freedom where I can be myself, believe what I believe, and not live in fear. I just want it to be a place where everyone, regardless of race, gender, religion, circumstance, or beliefs can feel the same freedom and acceptance as I do. It’s up to all of us to make that a reality.

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Hide And Seek

I’m really good at hide-and-seek. You know the game. No, not the one you played as a child. I’m talking about the hide-and-seek you play as an adult. Adult hide-and-seek is similar to the children’s game, but instead of the guarantee that when you hide someone will seek you out, you hide and wonder if anyone will seek you out. That is, if you care at all. Most of the time it should probably just be called “Hide and hope nobody notices that they haven’t seen or heard from you in a while.”

This hide-and-seek is much less fun and much more depressing than the game we played as kids. The excitement of being found and the laughter, giggling, and screaming “Ha! I found you!” and “Ah! You found me!” is replaced by wondering if anyone even knows you’re hiding or thinks to look for you. When playing hide-and-seek as a child, you often choose a dark, isolated place where nobody else is, where you can’t be easily seen or found. But when you play as an adult it doesn’t matter where you are; being out in the open in the middle of a room full of people can be darker than anywhere you hid as a child.

I think if we are honest with ourselves, our intent as the hider is the same in both games. We want to find a place where it’s hard for someone to find us, but not impossible. What good would it do to find a place where nobody can ever find you? In either game, if we hide in a place where it’s impossible to be found and never give ourselves up or come out of hiding, we will eventually die. Granted, the likelihood of a child hiding that well and being that committed to the game isn’t very high, but as an adult we can absolutely be that committed. This game may not lead to physical death for everyone who plays it, but if we play it long enough and are committed enough, it can easily cause us to die inside and lose who we are. It’s a dark place and the longer we stay there, the darker it gets.

So, when we find ourselves in that dark place, how do we get out of it? I’m not sure I know. I’m probably not the best person to ask because, if I’m honest, I feel a lot of comfort in that hiding spot. I’m not afraid of the dark and I enjoy being by myself, so it feels like a safe place. It’s a place where I don’t have to worry about much or be anything other than alive. But it’s not a place where we can ever truly be alive.

You may not have to worry about whether you are good enough, but you’ll also never know how it feels when someone accepts you for who you are. 

You may not have to worry about whether you will ever be successful, but you’ll also never be able to appreciate the good things in your life.

You may not ever have to worry about whether you are going to let someone down, but you’ll also never know how it feels to lift someone up.

You may not have to worry about being a disappointment, but you’ll also never know what it feels like to bring someone joy.

You may not have to worry about whether anyone will like you for who you are, but you will never really know who you are.

To find our way out of the darkness we must focus on the light. Granted, it may seem like a microscopic dot of light in the distance or a flickering flashlight that needs fresh batteries, but it’s there. The light is always there and even the smallest, faintest hint of light will overcome the darkest darkness. It will still seem dark at first, but when we focus on the light and begin to move toward it, the darkness will begin to fade away. The closer we get to the light, the less we will notice the darkness. Our goal should be to get so close to the source of the light that all the darkness is behind us.

It won’t always be easy. There will be times when we hear those feelings of inadequacy, doubt, fear, and worry shouting out those familiar numbers, trying to drag us back into another game of hide-and-seek.

1…”You’re not good enough!”

2…”You can’t do anything right!”

3…”You’ll never be successful!”

4…”You’re a failure and a disappointment!”

5…”You don’t deserve to be happy!”

Those numbers being shouted at us, they are coming from the darkness, trying to pull us back in to that hiding place. The difference between this game of hide-and-seek and the one we played as kids is that when we were kids, the numbers eventually stopped and the person counting would try to find us. In this game, if we listen to the numbers being shouted out at us, they will never stop and there is no “Ready or not, here I come!” There are an infinite amount of numbers and an infinite amount of lies that will continue to be shouted at us until it is all we hear. Rather than instinctively heading back to our hiding place, we must let it be a signal to refocus on the light. For when the numbers are being shouted out from the darkness, it is the light who calls out to us “Olly olly oxen free!” 

God Is Going To Use You To Do Great Things

God is going to use you to do great things.

For some, it will mean writing a bestselling book that changes the lives of people all over the world. For some, it will mean writing songs that will be used in churches every Sunday and leading sold-out crowds in inspiring times of worship. For some, it will mean leading a mega-church where you preach to thousands of people each week and see countless people saved in response to your messages.

For some, but not for most.

Since nearly every Christian has at some point been told or has told someone else “God is going to use you to do great things,” why is it that we so often feel discouraged, disappointed, or like our lives are just so…normal? Why do we feel like the ways God uses us are so average and unimpressive? Our typical response is to tell ourselves and others who feel this way that this is just a time of preparation – God is preparing and equipping you so that when the time comes, you will be ready and able to do the great things he has for you to do.

But what if that time never comes? What if you go through your whole life and never feel like you have done anything great for God? What does it say about us that the things we view as great are typically the things that bring fame to our name? The truth is, most of us will never reach thousands of people at a time through a book we write, song we sing, or message we preach. Most of us will never seem anything more than normal, average, and unimpressive, but it’s often in the normal, average, and unimpressive that God is using us to do great things.

Those times you sang Jesus Loves Me to your son or daughter at bedtime – that was God using you to do something great.

The Sunday School class that you taught for a couple of weeks or many years – that was God using you to do something great.

The dinner you made for the family who just lost a loved one – that was God using you to do something great.

The encouraging words you spoke to a co-worker who was having a rough day – that was God using you to do something great.

The example that you set for your kids that caused them to want to follow Jesus – that was God using you to do something great.

That note you wrote to your pastor, thanking him for the time, energy, and passion that he gives week-in and week-out – that was God using you to do something great.

The diapers you changed and babies you rocked – that was God using you to do something great.

The money you gave and prayers you prayed for missionaries around the world – that was God using you to do something great.

The times you forgave people who hurt you – that was God using you to do something great.

The years you spent working jobs you hated in order to provide for your family – that was God using you to do something great.

The mornings you spent opening the door for people and welcoming them to church – that was God using you to do something great.

The hug that you gave someone who was going through a difficult time and wondered if anyone cared – that was God using you to do something great.

The legacy you leave that causes generation after generation of your family to follow Christ – that was God using you to do something great.

The great things are in the little things. The normal, average, and unimpressive things you do that bring glory to God and build others up – that was God using you to do something great.