I’m Thankful for my Grief About the Election

It would be so much easier to bear a Trump presidency if I hadn’t learned about structural racism.

Easier if I’d avoided stories from my black and brown friends about micro-aggressions, ignored history, police violence, and daily grief.

Easier to stay positive if I hadn’t figured out exactly how sexual assault happened in my high school youth group.

Easier if I’d never asked my brother and sister for permission to share parts of their assault stories.

Easier if I’d never faced my complicity in racism, misogyny, and abuse. Easier if I’d just well enough alone.

If I’d stayed quiet and small and naive, I could have ignored what’s happening. I could have told myself it has nothing to do with me. I could have preached to myself that Jesus is on the throne no matter what.

I could have pretended.

Easier to not hit my head on the brick wall of willful ignorance (my own and others’).

Easier to not hear people love dismissing Christ’s command to pray for their enemies.

Easier to not understand the implications of putting a demagogue in the White House.

Easier not to hear the grief of people directly affected by hateful politics.

Easier not to see, not to notice, not to pay attention.

I am grieved by the coming Inauguration. But even as I grieve, I feel thankful. Because despite the Administration we’re facing, I’m ever more thankful for deliverance from ease.

Once, I thought there was beauty in safety. I thought peace was a blank white box with smooth sides. I thought my anxiety was a life sentence and my fears could protect me from harm. I thought I had nothing to say and no way to change the world.

That world was miniscule. It was white, wealthy and afraid. It thought it didn’t bother anyone; it didn’t wonder if it loved. It tried to stay focused on the end of its nose.

What happened when I stepped off that minuscule planet is this: I heard cries of grief and examined the bulwarks of my own complicity. I had to acknowledge the shadows I feared had real threats casting them. It was a kind of apocalypse.

But this made me bigger.

Inside my heart, a fire raged after years of cold. Next to me gathered brothers and sisters I thought I’d alienated. I dug into my soul and started tearing out my indifference, my apathy, my shame. I started hearing drumbeats urging me to dance.

I no longer know what kind of country I live in, but my address feels beside the point. For the first time in my life, I know where I stand.

I know shadows have real power. But so do I. I see that taking one brave step forward is easier than I thought. I can do something, and I know doing something feels good.

Numbness was easy, but weighing it next to the ocean of being alive, there’s no comparison. How can I go back to pretending after the wild fire of living? How can I possibly thank the people who told me stories that broke my heart? How can I go back to alienation from my brothers and sisters? How can I believe that abuse and hate have any power to destroy what truly matters?

I am asking God for a deliverance that brings power to the marginalized, even if that means less power for me. I am asking for smashing of icy hearts, including my own. I am asking to see the dark, hidden spirits so I can pray Christ’s light on purpose. I am asking to be counted. I am asking to do better. I am asking for help.

I am asking to be rescued from the nothingness I once drew comfort from.

I am asking for connection, for empathy, for my enemies to find deliverance. I am asking for life so abundant, it rips open all our hearts.

Heather Caliri

Heather Caliri

Writer at A Little Yes
Heather Caliri is a writer from San Diego who uses tiny, joyful yeses to free herself from anxiety. Tired of anxiety controlling your life? Try her mini-course, “Five Tiny Ideas for Managing Anxiety," for free here.
Heather Caliri

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  • Oh, Heather, this is so good! I still feel so inadequate, but I know God can use even the smallest effort to help bring about change. “I am asking for connection, for empathy, for my enemies to find deliverance. I am asking for life so abundant, it rips open all our hearts.” Blessings to you!

    • Thank you, Gayl. I pray we’re all spurred ot intentional action and solidarity. I feel each day the need to stand up and be counted. I hope that proves to be a good thing–spurring us all to live out our convictions.

  • Bev Murrill

    Powerful Post, right here, Heather! Thanks for putting it this way to us. xx

  • Jamie

    Love it. Beautiful post, Heather.