The beginning of…

Posted: November 10, 2016 in Uncategorized

(You might want to read yesterday’s post titled “The day after…” if you haven’t already read it, before reading “The beginning of…” )

“The beginning of…” is one of several phrases we use when on the threshold of momentous change. That phrase often, though not always, embodies hope. Where there is hope there is life. Without hope the quality of—and often the desire for—life diminishes. Hope gives life vitality. Within the Christian context, hope is inextricably connected to faith. In a letter titled “Hebrews” in Christian scripture, the author writes, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

The New York Times described that hope as glee for some people and grief for others. There are many things people hope for in the beginning of the new president’s tenure. It is apparent that many people hope for change. The President Elect has promised to fulfill that hope. I hope for other things. Yet before I can hope, before I can experience the joy of life, I grieve for the loss of a once hoped for future, a grief many people share with me.

Grief cannot be rushed. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ seminal work On Death and Dying (1969) identifies five stages of grief—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance—through which one passes anytime they experience loss. All five stages are experienced when one grieves even though one may move through one or more stages quickly.

Some of us who are experiencing loss in this election cycle may need more time than others to grieve. If you are not feeling loss but rather are elated, please give space and time to us who grieve. We must move through the process, don’t rush us.

I admit I first dealt with denial, a feeling that it couldn’t happen, surely something is going to reverse the election. I’m now still angry that the country I once loved now feeels like one that doesn’t want me and people like me or even people like the worshipping friends with whom I sang hymns and offered prayers last Sunday. America was once my country, but now I feel that at least half of it says that Hispanics, transsexuals, African-Americans, gays, disadvantaged, and marginalized people are not wanted. I echo Jeff Chu’s words: “Join me in my tears if you want. I’d really like that.”

Some of you reading this will want to be quick with words about “God is still on his throne,” or “not everyone believes everything the President Elect has said.” If that is true, why did you vote for him, or why did he say those things? This isn’t a game in which we say things we don’t believe to garner votes from people who don’t believe them. By so doing many people have been hurt. (Take notice of the spontaneous public marches and rallys last night.)

As I deal with my grief and lament my loss, I see a glimmer of hope through my tears. I hope…
…that the disquiet injected into the campaign will moderate,
…that grief and loss some people experience will not be ridiculed or spoken of lightly by those who glee,
…that cooler heads will prevail,
…that hurt and anger will transition into reparative action,
…that America will move forward into the greatness of a bright future,
…that there will be a day when America will not pine for an unrecoverable yesteryear, and
…that there will be the day when American will be future oriented once again.

All of this is complicated so don’t throw out cliches willy-nilly. Such words generally don’t help the people they are targeted toward. A greeting-card philosophy may be appreciated but not so helpful. What helps is when someone who voted for the President Elect sits down beside someone who voted for the other major candidate, puts an arm around them, and enters into their pain. When that happens there’s hope—there’s life.

One more quote from Jeff Chu: “The failure to love your neighbor comes in a multitude of forms. It’s complicated, yet so devastatingly simple.”

As a Christ follower, I know there’s hope in Jesus. So I’ll work through my grief. Be patient with me—or offer a tear with me. In the meantime, look for hope wherever you can find it—for in hope there is life.

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