I’ve had to stop wearing mascara. The tears just won’t stop. Every time I think I’ve turned a corner, the grief hits me like a ton of bricks. These last 10+ days have been excruciating. I’ve written about ‘the day after’. This time, the day after November 8th broke me. But, I’m still here. One of the most encouraging lines I’ve read in recent days, came from Ann Voskamp: “God sees the broken as the best, and He sees the best in the broken, and He calls the wounded to be the world changers.” This, whatever this is….it is not okay. We may be wounded, but we are not defeated. For those who are struggling, like me, I offer my rough draft list of ways to begin healing.
LISTEN AND LEARN
How did we become a nation so divided? There are many reasons, but one is that we don’t listen well. Here are books and articles that I’ve either read (and LOVE) or have in recent days learned about, and hope to read soon. Some provide insights into forgotten communities dotting the the rust belt…others, into the pain of racism that still rages today or to a new posture for the evangelical church in a hurting world.
Books for Adults
- Hillbilly Elegy
- What So Many People Don’t Get About the U.S. Working Class
- Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right
- POST-ELECTION EVANGELICAL: A STATEMENT FROM MARK LABBERTON AND RICHARD MOUW
- WATCHING 81% OF MY WHITE BROTHERS AND SISTERS VOTE FOR TRUMP HAS BROKEN SOMETHING IN ME
- Life After Evangelicalism
- Just Mercy
As my recent ancestry.com genetic test proves, I am about as white as you can get! So, to my fellow Caucasians, please consider the books above (or films below) that speak to the pain of bias and discrimination, especially racism. While there’s no disputing the many forgotten towns where the ‘white working class’ has seen better days, these communities do not hold a monopoly over suffering in America. The numbers do not lie, and they tell us that Latinos and African Americans remain worse off than the white working class—which is still the “largest demographic bloc in the workforce”—by pretty much every measurable outcome, from home ownership to life expectancy. Our desire to help those who have been hurt by a broken system should be universal and unbiased. That is why I also include books that will broaden my own perspective, like Hillbilly Elegy.
Books for Kids
There have been reports of harassment from both sides, in areas not far from me. Kids are not immune from dinner table conversations or the palpable fear grownups are walking around with. And, for some kids, the threat of deportation or explicit racism is very real. Here are some of my favorite books for kids, which are helpful anytime, but especially at times like these. Teaching our kids to embrace diversity, practice generosity and show compassion should be paramount in parenting.
This isn’t a complete list, but just new films that have caught my eye and speak powerfully to the issues we’re facing today.
Here’s the deal. A week ago, I wasn’t ready to open my Bible. I couldn’t. I felt (and, to a large extent) still feel like a stranger in my own faith, with 81% voting for Trump. We all have the same life manual, yet we come away with such drastically different conclusions. But, a dear friend urged me to open Romans. I did. And, God met me. The next day, she said she had already ordered an NT Wright study on Romans for us to do together. This friend reminds me of Aaron (in the Old Testament), who held up Moses’s arms during the battle with the Amalekites; as long as Moses’s arms were raised, Israel prevailed. We all need someone to hold up our arms, when we don’t have the strength.
Yesterday, I pulled up my Lauren Daigle playlist. I love her. But, for days it was just too much. Were you ever so sad that you were afraid of healing? Part of me was desperate for assurance and another part of me felt like I would be betraying those on the front-lines of suffering. See, I will be okay. I’ve never doubted that. So many others…the LGBTQ community, people of color, the undocumented, Muslims….they will not.
I did not want to pick up the pieces and move ON until I knew where I was moving TO.
I tapped on my Lauren Daigle playlist and My Revival randomly came on…except, nothing is random with God. It begins…
I will run and not grow weary
I will walk, I will not faint
I will soar on wings like eagles
Find my rest in your everlasting name
You are my revival
Jesus on you I wait
I’ll lean on your promise
You will renew my strength
I stood in my bathroom, weeping. And, then, I wiped away the tears and got ready to go to go feed lunch to the homeless. I was so glad it was Thursday. I knew that spending time with those who wear their brokenness on the outside, would help me find direction for the brokenness on my inside, which had rendered me so distraught and disoriented. And, it did.
I have a confession. I love a good deal. And, what’s better than free? Now I know.
For years, I’ve loved getting my news for free via the internet. I’d even ration my access to New York Times articles (10 a month!) so that I wouldn’t have to pay. Our new economy is driven by clicks, not quality reporting or truth. No matter who is in the White House, we need quality news outlets, if we are to be well informed. Therefore, I plan to start paying for news subscriptions to the institutions I believe are doing some of the best reporting, like NPR/PBS and the New York Times, among others. On the flip-side, avoid fake news or fake news sources.
FIND A FRIEND
No, not the ones on Facebook. I am so grateful for the friends who came alongside me in my grief. Dark days have a way of revealing who your true friends are. A book. A coffee. A pot of split-pea soup. A morning run. A bunch of crazy cat videos. Repeated calls or texts to say, ‘are you okay?’. These last few days have drenched me in both love and grief. The folks who made me feel less alone, by confessing that they too were not okay…..
I will be okay. My heart breaks because there are millions of people in our country who will NOT be okay. It seems to me, part of faith and loving God is letting your heart be broken for the folks who are not okay.
California has a large Hispanic population. I decided to lean into that pain, talking folks who are already seeing their lives turned upside down. One gal, with tears streaming down her face, told me of how her son cries when she drops him at school, not knowing if she might not pick him up. A Hispanic gentleman told me, shared how a lady in Starbucks looked at him on November 9th and said, “Make America White Again.” There are no words…. I know these people well. They are good, hardworking individuals. One of them looked at me, and with the greatest sincerity said, “I still believe that America is the greatest country on the planet.” He loves America.
Though I should be the one wearing the ‘encourager’ hat, they are the ones who have instilled hope in me; they say, “it’s just four years…..it will be hard but we will get through it…..sometimes, things have to get worse before they get better….” Their personal resilience and collective faith inspires me. They are the ones who make America great.
If you are looking for a place to start, try talking to the people you already know. Offer them a safe space to share their story. We cannot absolve ourselves of the impact, even if our intent was not to do harm. No matter how you voted, we must come step out of our silos and listen with a desire to learn, not to respond.
WEAR A PIN
In the wake of the election, many started wearing a safety pin. It’s a way of showing support and solidarity with those who are afraid. There are lots of opinions on whether this is actually useful. (Here’s a good assessment.) But, I’ve decided to continue wearing it for the time-being. The first reason is somewhat personal. When my daughter initially saw it and asked what it meant, she immediately suggested that I move the pin where others could see it more easily. In that moment, it dawned on me that she believed I could be a safe person…she wanted me to be a safe person for others. If I want her to be brave, I have to be brave. And, so, I’ve worn it everyday for a week now. When I put it on, it reminds me to look for opportunities to show kindness.
The pin can be as little or as much as we make it; I am trying to make it step #1 in a long path of aligning myself with those who are scared and worry what the future may hold. In some cities, thousands have pledged to stand by neighbors who are afraid. In the case of my friend, I told her to put my number in her son’s backpack and have him call me if ever he needs help. God help me – I will be the one. There are so many ways you can make it more than just a pin. If you are local and you want a safety pin, I have stocked up. Just ask.
Find an under-resourced school or an organization that helps the homeless. Sign up to be a Big Brother or Big Sister. Find local groups fighting sex trafficking. Here in the Bay Area, some favorites of mine are:
I love the church because it is the body of Christ…the hands and feet of Jesus. It is where I have focused the bulk of my volunteer hours. But, I will be honest that I am really struggling in my relationship with organized religion at the moment. I see some institutions and individuals who aren’t afraid to stand up, who believe the greatest commandment is to love others and who understand that the world is watching. Young people, like my children, are watching. I believe the church is OUT there. Maybe, that is where I should be….
Elizabeth Elliot once said, “Live a life of reckless abandon for the Lord.” Jesus never took a survey or ran from conflict. His love was not based upon strategy or maximizing his ROI. As I pray about the future, I’m personally going to be looking for the people and places where the gospel is being preached and practice without abandon.
We are heading into the holiday season, with Thanksgiving just days away. If ever there was a time to give well, the time is now. I recently watched the documentary, Poverty, Inc. with my small group. It reinforces themes from books, including, When Helping Hurts. Sometimes, our best intentions go awry. All too often, this is the case with charity. Our world needs help. Some of that help is tangible. Some is not. But, if you decide to give, take the time to give well.
Here’s a list of organizations that either do charity or rate charities.
- Skoll Foundation, http://skoll.org
- GiveWell, http://www.givewell.org/
- Good Ventures, http://www.goodventures.org/
- Gates Foundation, http://www.gatesfoundation.org/
- Achungo Children’s Centre, http://www.achungo.org
- Village Enterprise, http://villageenterprise.org
- International Justice Mission, https://www.ijm.org
- 10 Thousand Windows, http://10thousandwindows.org/
- Solid Ground International, http://www.solidgroundinternational.org/
- Agape International, http://agapewebsite.org/
If you like sponsorship-type programs, here are alternatives to Samaritan’s Purse (information on why Operation Christmas Child can have unintended consequences):
WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS….
In the midst of the tears, we learned that a breeder we’d followed for a long time had puppies. And, after many years of bribing healthy habits and good behavior out of our kids, we finally felt this was the time. A few days after Christmas, we’ll bring home a little girl. We’ve named her Calli.
The good our family hopes to do will require a lot more than a safety pin. And, I have no doubt the years ahead will be tough; there will be moments when I need to turn off the computer, grab the leash and take this little lady for a walk….while simultaneously spending some time talking to God. There’s that great verse that says, be still, and know that I am God. I know that God sits on the throne; my most fervent prayer right now, is that in ways big and small, I can be a reflection of his love on earth. Fingers crossed, puppy kisses and a wagging tail, will also serve as a tangible reminder of unconditional love.
SECOND CLASS SAINTS
Do we believe that one day in heaven, there will be second class saints or celestial slums? I think most would say NO. But, if there is an order in heaven, Jesus gives a pretty big clue as to what it looks like, saying that the first shall be last and the last shall be first. We are his church. We are his hands and feet. We are here to bring what’s up there down here….to people of all colors, religions, genders, economic status…you name it. For God so loved the WHOLE WORLD. How can we possibly justify a rationing of love and kindness, based upon our own bias or greed? We cannot. We must not.
To borrow from a Hopi poem, “we are the ones we have been waiting for.” The times is now. We are the ones. On November 9th, a dear friend and I sat at Mademoiselle Colette, just reeling. She had brought me a copy of Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. I confess that I’ve not very far into it (it hasn’t been my most productive week….), but I absolutely love that this friend wanted to encourage me in my writing.
In the introduction, there’s this great line that so speaks to this moment: “Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work; you don’t give up.” It’s been rather dark for me, these last few days. But, I have hope. I believe that dawn WILL come.
I was staring at my “act justly, love mercy, walk humbly” necklace yesterday, complete now with its large safety pin. The little pearl caught my eye. I remembered the verse in Matthew 13:46, where Jesus tells the parable of the merchant who, when he found a pearl, went and sold all that he had to buy it. Not only did Christ give his all for us, but we in turn are called to emulate this kind of love…to the widow, orphan, foreigner or poor. Folks, there are pearls all around us. The question is whether we are the ones who see them as such, believe the broken are indeed the best and will do whatever it takes to love them with reckless abandon.