So everything the news media has been focused on for the past two years has been pointing to November 8th, 2016. The date approaching like a giant meteor in a Michael Bay film, all of us trying to figure out the way to avoid a dastardly collision. It has felt, to many, like a literal life or death situation—the country elects the wrong person and we’re doomed. I even heard a campaign commercial proclaim, “Our country is falling apart.” It’s like they’re trying to convince us that the sky is falling and the only savior is their candidate.
I don’t buy it.
I don’t believe our country is falling apart. I also don’t believe that whoever we elect is going to be the answer to any of our problems. I feel like I’m old enough, and have been through enough extremely polarized elections, where I was convinced the world was going to end if that guy got elected, and he did, and it didn’t. The world kept turning. And it’s going to keep turning after next Tuesday.
What part do you want to play in keeping the world turning after next Tuesday? You get to decide. Here are a few options you might consider.
SEEK CONNECTION— There’s nothing that the enemy would like to do more than separate, disconnect, and isolate us. You can see this in the political parties—the more we separate ourselves from the others, the easier it is to vilify them, right? Don’t let the enemy win. Love (which is my party platform of choice!) is all about us coming together, seeing what we have in common, how we can help those in need, and celebrating what makes us uniquely beautiful. No one is going to win the election unless we each have the courage to move toward those who are different than us with humble hearts and open arms of hospitality, understanding, and love.
CHAMPION THE ISSUE— Was there a particular issue during the election that captured your attention more than another? While it’s impossible to find a candidate who fits perfectly with your own personal ideals, it is possible to devote a part of your life toward a cause or issue that seems important, perhaps even breaks your heart. If you find, for example, that the candidate’s stance on abortion felt like the most important issue, don’t wait around for your candidate (win or lose) to work on that cause the way you’d like. Take the issue into your own hands, and be the change in the world you’d like to see.
But the best way to survive the election (and maybe the most difficult)…
CHANGE HOW YOU SEE— Gandhi said, “We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.”
I love this quote. To me, it says that what we see in the world is a reflection of what is inside of us. If you are full of love, you will see the world as full of love. If you see yourself as flawed or broken, you will be suspect of the world.
To be honest, I don’t see myself as perfect, but I see myself as a child of God, held and loved, maybe even guided and protected. I see my life as a grand love story the Creator is still writing, filled with surprising amounts of beauty and joy. When I’m tempted to let fear creep in, threatening me with the “what ifs” and “might bes,” or the worst one, “who do you think you are?,” I have to remember that there is nothing anybody could ever do to me to take away that which is most important to me. Kind of like the Apostle Paul said in Phil. 4:11–13,
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do this all through him who gives me strength.”
While none of else can orchestrate the circumstances that life brings us, we each have an opportunity to choose how we’re going to respond to them. As a person of faith, believing that I am a beloved child of God, I am given the opportunity to look at all of life, all of creation, through a lens of hope, instead of a lens of nope. This kind of seeing doesn’t create polarization, it doesn’t thrive off of ego-driven wins, and it doesn’t pity the other.
Soon the election will be over, and I promise you we will all shake our heads at how vitriolic our social media feeds were. We will chuckle at how things really didn’t change that much when the “bad” candidate was elected. And we’ll again be faced with an opportunity to either sit around and wait for other people to change the world, or step up ourselves and be a voice of hope, helping to guide the troops to the true victory—in the place where there will be no death, sorrow, crying, or pain.