When I opened up social media Wednesday morning and learned that Donald Trump was our new president, I was shocked. I really didn’t believe that he could possibly win, but win he did, and in my lifetime I’ve never seen so much emotional upheaval over an election.
I’m not surprised by the protests going on across the U.S. over a man who’s been so vulgar towards women and condescending towards minorities. He’s brought it on himself. But I think what has taken me aback the most is the support of the evangelical Christian community of Donald Trump.
I didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton either. I threw my vote away, according to many, on the third party. But who I voted for is beside the point. The real issue is how am I supposed to respond to Donald Trump being the President? How can I reconcile the truth to what I’m seeing and hearing especially from Christians and still have hope?
Honestly, I’ve been more confused than anything else. Some of my friends on social media are posting pictures of a baby in the womb with the words, Thank you, America written underneath. Others are making jokes about things being so quiet at the Clintons that you can hear the emails being deleted. Some are getting drunk and claiming to love one another despite who they voted for. Many are encouraging people to stop being so negative and adopt a positive attitude. Some are saying Trump will make America great again. Others say he is God’s judgment on America.Some are reminding us that God puts all leaders in their position. And some are declaring that Trump is #not my president.
As much as I’d like Donald Trump to not be my president, the realty is, he was elected. I’ve thought about moving to Canada so he wouldn’t be, but I don’t think my family will go along with another move.
Trump’s attitude towards women especially not only angers and frightens me, but also causes me to battle great despair. As I’ve listened to his sexually abusive language over the past few months being replayed by the media over and over again, I’m reminded every time of the excruciatingly painful words of a pastor who said in response to my telling him that my five year old daughter had been sexually abused by a fourteen year old boy,that boys will be boys. I’m also reminded of a group of all male elders who disregarded that I was a victim of spiritual abuse declaring to me that I had sinned and that my name would be given to the church whether I wanted it to or not.
These painful reminders make it almost impossible at times for my mind not to go to dark places of deep despair. No matter how hard I fight it some days the memories come crashing down like a tidal wave overwhelming me with their force. And no amount of positive thinking, pious platitudes or efforts to transform Trump into God’s man can remove this pain.
The reality is finding hope in the next four year’s of Trumps presidency is going to be a challenge for a lot of us.
I love reading Phillip Yancey especially when I’m confused. His words have a way of putting things into perspective for me. Mr. Yancey doesn’t attempt to dilute or cover the truth about things with denial or pious platitudes or the power of positive thinking, nor does he go to worse case scenario and cause one to be overwhelmed with hopelessness. Mr. Yancey presents a clear picture of how painful things really are, and where we can truly find hope.
Phillip Yancey grew up in a time when religion was even more confusing than it is now; a time when African Americans were treated worse than dirt on the bottom of someone’s shoe. I’m appalled by the stories he tells of people in the church who chose to turn a blind eye to the oppression of another human being. Yancey writes in Soul Survivor: How My Faith Survived the Church:
A few years before his death, (Martin Luther) King was asked about mistakes he had made. He replied, “Well, the most pervasive mistake I have made was in believing that because our cause was just, we could be sure that the white ministers of the South, once their Christian consciences were challenged, would rise to our aid. I felt that white ministers would take our cause to the white power structures. I ended up, of course, chastened and disillusioned. As our movement unfolded, and direct appeals were made to white ministers, most folded their hands—and some even took stands against us.”
As Yancey wrote, Martin Luther King discovered that even when terrible abuse and evil was exposed that the church often turned a blind eye, while others actively participated in the evil. I wonder if social media had been around at that time if their rational wouldn’t have been similar to what I have seen lately. In all likelihood I think it would, because humanity hasn’t changed.
Perhaps the biggest challenge to finding hope in all this mess, is coming to the same conclusion that Philip Yancey has.
I began the lifelong process of separating church from God. Though I had emerged from childhood churches badly damaged, as I began to scrutinize Jesus through the critical eyes of a journalist, I saw that the qualities that so upset me—legalism, self-righteousness, racism, provincialism, hypocrisy—Jesus had fought against, and were probably the very qualities that led to his crucifixion. Getting to know the God revealed in Jesus, I recognized I needed to change in many ways—yes, even to repent, for I had absorbed the hypocrisy, racism, and self-righteousness of my upbringing and contributed numerous sins of my own.
Finding hope this election year isn’t going to happen by focusing on what Donald Trump has said or how others are responding to it. I realize after reading Phillip Yancey this morning that I’ve got to look past all of that in order to stay sane.
I also need to recognize the same qualities that so bother me about Donald Trump and others in the church promoting him are also present in me.
In this time of uncertainty and fear, I know my hope lies in only one place-in Jesus Who died so we could live, Who forgave so we could be set free free, and Who promises one day all oppression shall cease. He hasn’t abandoned us in the confusing time, nor will He.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord ’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.