As the alarm went off this morning at 6am on this, the day after November 8, 2016, my wife and I awoke to a certain sadness. If you are one of the 65 million people, or 52.5%, that participated in yesterday’s general election whose candidate will not be our next president perhaps you feel the same.
My wife and I wondered aloud the night before how best to explain the election results to our six-year-old daughter. We excitedly took her with us to vote yesterday, in the hopes she’d remember the day as a moment of history. Of when as a people we’d decided that yes, women truly can be and do anything they set their minds to. The day of girl power was not to be.
My daughter, predictably as ever, walked into our bedroom shortly after the alarm went off, and my wife gave her the news. “Why do some people say he’s mean?” she asked. Still groggy, and not quite ready to answer with the honesty and care her query deserves I reply, “that’s a good question, let’s talk about it tonite.” These are teachable moments, for sure, but for now that perspective, and those words, remain elusive.
I kiss my wife goodbye this morning as she leaves for work, see tears in her eyes, and resolve right then to take a good long jog, hoping to sweat a bit of this out. The two of us bickered some last night on the couch as the results came in, and I realize now that emotion has turned to mourning. We are grieving. There is a certain sacredness to these tears, to this sweat. Over time our tears, our sweat will bring healing. Will bring wholeness. But we’re not there yet.
As I go back into the house to make lunches for the kids my daughter notices her flowers outside look droopy. “Daddy, can I water the flowers?” Of course, I reply, let me get you a cup. In the next room I hear my three year-old-son stirring. Now awake he’s playing with his favorite sound book of late, Farts in the Wild and pressing the elephant farts button repeatedly. I hear the elephant trumpet with their trunk, which then proceeds to a loud step-fart-step-fart-step fart rhythm of humorous melodies. I can’t help but smile. The lunches now made, I grab a hat, and shuffle the kids into the car for school. It’s a Chicago Cubs hat; my favorite team won the World Series in epic fashion seven short days ago. More smiling.
Somewhere in these small, mundane moments it hits me: I’m looking for meaning in all the wrong places.
Somewhere along the way we’ve lost sight of the Ten Commandments, which speak plainly about the ills of things like theft, lying, and adultery. As a society we’ve misplaced the Golden Rule, which implores us to do unto others as we would have done unto us. A quick glance at your Facebook feed likely shows ample evidence of that. Hearing that white evangelical Christians voted for our next president by a whopping 81-16 percent margin gives me pause. As a pastor it’s difficult to imagine how we, as a people of faith, reconcile this with our shared Judeo-Christian values.
It’s natural to want our leaders to model these values of course, to bring morality, ethics and good character into all they do. But that doesn’t always happen. And those choices aren’t always available to us.
But I do know this. In the coming days, weeks, months and years there are kids lunches to be made. Plants to water. Fart books to read. Our children have much to teach us.
There are also Ten Commandments and Golden Rules to discuss. Girl Scout meetings to attend. Cubs games to watch. Crucial learnings to be handed down on topics like bullying, sharing, and using kind hands. Our children have much to learn from us.
And, as a member of a faith community, there are sick to be healed. Hungry to be fed. Homeless to be housed. Regardless of our politics our faith traditions call us to this. EVERY. FRIGGIN. DAY. We faith communities have much to teach our country. And much to do in our world.
For now, while I find myself still mourning, still in need of healing, of wholeness, I find purpose. Purpose as a husband, father, and Christ follower. There is much to learn, and much to teach, in the here and in the now. And in this unsettled moment, for me, that is enough.