I was one of the 19 percent. Nineteen percent of voting white evangelical Christians did not choose Donald J. Trump to be president. And, like most non-Trump supporters, I spent the first days after the election in grief and fear over what a Trump America would look like. The morning after the election, I was shocked the sun still shone, my infant son still grinned at me nearly bursting with joy, and the blue sky dared be so blue.
As a Christian woman, I felt betrayed. I couldn’t bring myself to attend church that Sunday out of fear the service would be business-as-usual. People of color were suddenly tweeting out of their wounds, such as African American sister Yolanda Pierce’s tweet: “White evangelicals: you’ve decisively proven that you love your whiteness more than you love your black & brown brothers & sisters in Christ.” (Yolanda Pierce @YNPierce Nov 8).
I feared being tainted by association.
As a writer, I needed to write it all out. I wanted to add my voice to the cacophony of noise rising in volume. Like the catharsis of screaming into an on-coming train, I wanted my voice to be swallowed by the anger, fear and grief of the voices on the internet.
But I read some words¹ that morning from a wise old king that tempered my impulse.
“Tremble [with anger or fear], and do not sin;
Meditate [speak] in your heart upon your bed, and be still.
I needed to pause, breathe and exhale. If I had spoken, it would have been out of hate, not love. Anger, not activism. Bitterness, not hope. My lament was too raw, too tender.
I desperately wanted to do something. The next words I read suggested this paradox:
Offer the sacrifices of righteousness,
And trust in the Lord.
In other words: before doing, first die. What are the sacrifices of righteousness? Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-Control. This response conflicts with every impulse, feeling and emotion I have right now. I don’t want to love a man who uses fear as a motivator and hate as power’s fuel. And I don’t want to trust a God who would allow evil to win.
But I will put down my sword. Loving right now is counter-cultural, revolutionary, even.
Sounds like Someone else I know.
And so I trust not in our president, Congress, the media, the hundreds of articles debating fact and fiction or even in myself. I lean on the One who spoke everything out of nothing. The One who whispered words into my womb and molded a little life. The One who brings down nations and kingdoms, but also coaxes the butterfly out of its chrysalis. The One who outwitted death, sadness, evil and despair with pure, exquisite, soul-washing love.
We raise high the banner words spoken by Desmund Tutu: “We are a resurrection people.” In death, we live on.
Many are saying, ‘Who will show us any good?”
The media would like us to believe we are doomed. Our hearts jump into that weaving car, clutching the seat in front of us as the world spins faster and faster out of our control. We are losing hope in humanity.
But perhaps our hope was misplaced all along?
Lift up the light of Thy countenance upon us, O Lord!
A dancer knows to seek out a focal point as they twirl so they are not overcome by dizziness. The only way to stay upright is to fix my gaze on a person so much bigger, higher and more stable than Donald Trump or the United States of America.
We are making our way in a dark room, and yet even here there is light. In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that” (A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches).
We are a resurrection people, a people who love in the dark. I will fix my eyes on Jesus—His face, words, actions, prayers, pleas and platitudes. I will focus on his humility, but also on His fierce strength. The light of the world will not be extinguished.
Thou hast put gladness in my heart,
More than when their grain and new wine abound.
I’m not quite ready to lay down my lament and accept this “gladness” yet. But these words are a reminder that my joy is not dependent on government, economy or society. The gladness of the Spirit transcends our momentary terrors. Our source is from magical waters, from Holy Spirit springs that do not run dry.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep,
For Thou alone, O Lord, dost make me to dwell in safety.”
How can we sleep at night when hate crimes are on the rise, the KKK, alt-right, and even Nazi rhetoric fill our headlines? While families now fear deportation, marginalization and registration?[But when did we start believing God is so concerned about our safety anyway? In our prayer meetings as we prayed for “safe travels” and “smooth journeys”? In our self-help books that urge us to “trust ourselves” and “follow the way of happiness”?]
God is not safe. Neither is love.
And yet we are promised the sacred gift of Presence. Jesus is with the African American terrified he may be the next traffic violation victim to be shot; the devout Muslim studying in America, who has traded her hijab for a hat; the teenager who now wonders if the notes passed to her during physics class are “just locker room talk”; and the follower of Jesus who no longer feels kinship in the pews.
Only Jesus can empower us to love those we no longer understand. He loved the unlovable, touched the untouchable and redeemed the irredeemable. Even in the midst of a government led by the evil men who had him unjustly slaughtered, God was not thwarted. Love does not lose.
And God is not thwarted now.
And so it is in this belief I will fight—not with fists swinging, but willingly sacrificing my human right to wallow in anger, fear and sadness. I will choose to love boldly. I will choose joy, peace and patience. I will choose kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
I will pray for this man (for he really is just a man) and for our country. But in the spirit of love, I will also make phone calls, attend meetings, continue to educate myself on race issues, speak up for the marginalized and talk to my children about loving the paradoxical way that Jesus does—not just with words, but in actions and in truth. Not loving those who are deserving of love, but loving those who are hardest to love. And how will I begin? I’ll begin by going to church this Sunday. And I will love my Trump-supporting sister right there in the pew.
¹Psalm 4: 4-8 (NASV)
- Loving After Trump - February 17, 2019
- Selling Out by Settling Down? - July 13, 2017
- Loving After Trump - January 10, 2017
22 thoughts on “Loving After Trump”
I’m in the 19% with you as are most of the women in my family, including my 86 year old aunt. While I’m disgusted by our fear that seemed to motivate votes for Mr. Trump, and the future looks so confusing, I’m also with you in holding to God who is the only one to put our faith and trust and that now is our call to love in action. Good words Leslie.
Debby, I feel like these are the times we finally get to see what Jesus meant when He called us to love those we’d rather not love. But this love can involve resistance as well;-)
I keep coming back to Jeremiah’s words, tucked in amidst all the lament, but offering hope for a people in exile: “seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace.” Your call to love people who voted in ways which we cannot comprehend is a good beginning.
Such a great passage for these days of feeling almost like we’re in exile here!
I love that passage, Michele, so much… and it is so apt right here.
A thousand times yes. I am with you on all of this. The disbelief and the constant reminders to myself that none of this is surprising to a God who is in control. I truly appreciate the grace and love you bring to difficult topics, Leslie!
I’m so thankful that we are not without hope. Glad this resonates with you–it’s so helpful knowing I’m not alone;-)
“The only way to stay upright is to fix my gaze on a person so much bigger, higher and more stable than Donald Trump or the United States of America.” Yes. Sometimes it has been so easy to pride myself on not putting my hope in political systems, to think that I was above it all. As I’ve stumbled through the past 2 months I’ve realized just how far I have to go. And I’ve wondered what my response is supposed to be, how I’m supposed to show love even now. Thank you for these encouraging words.
Rea, It’s easy to feel caught in the system or paralyzed by fear of the future. But I think we each have a small sphere that we can influence more than we know.
So well said, Leslie. Thank you.
Leslie, you have said this so well and reminded us just where our trust should be placed. Love is what is needed, and like you said the kind of love we need can only come from Christ. Also, this: “God is not safe. Neither is love. And yet we are promised the sacred gift of Presence.” Amen! Thank you so much for voicing what many of us are feeling and showing us the way of peace. Blessings!
Thanks, Gayl! And it helps to know that I wasn’t alone in being the 19%;-)
Leslie, I am part of the 19% as well. As a lover of history, I know our nation has survived contentious elections before, and, Lord willing, will do so again. Yet I cannot quite shake myself out of the shock I feel that so many who call themselves followers of Christ stooped to such ugly levels. Power became more important than Gospel this political season.
It has been difficult for me to listen to brothers and sisters who chose Trump. Not that I no longer love them, because I do. But that love has been buried under layers of frustration. Thank you for this piece, for the reminder that Christ remains Lord and I remain on mission, whatever the circumstances, and a big part of that mission is to lay aside anger.
Stepping back and looking at the big picture helps no matter if you’re talking about our country, the world or even life in light of eternity. Glad you have that background where you automatically view life in terms of history!
Leslie, I would have been part of the 19% if I lived in USA … I’ve found it very very difficult, as have many people in the rest of the world, to really grasp that this man has indeed found his way into the highest office in the land, and beyond.
I love what you have said, and the reminder that darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. And we follow the One who first said: ‘Let there be Light’ and when He said it, it was there. We are made in His image and we can speak Light as well, and see it become… thanks for this post.
Wish you could have joined us in the vote!;-) I think I’ll be needing to reread my own words to myself in the coming days!
Leslie, I think that’s the way with prophetic things we’ve written; they come from somewhere so deep within us, where God lives, and for that reason, we all have to re-read our own stuff when it is so insightful for the days we live in… xx
I am part of the 19 percent… though I confess as a result of this year’s (and really the past two decades’) Evangelical fascism, I have left the building. Or rather, the building is simply gone. Like a gas explosion’s effect on a suburban dwelling, there’s simply nothing left of Evangelicalism as far as being a shelter, a place of refuge. I and so many others are wandering in the street, slowly finding one another, beginning to form a new community rooted in grieving and hope. Dunno what it will be called yet…. but maybe that’s not so important.
Jon, The 19% seem to be finding each other in spaces like this, which is a huge comfort. I am hoping and praying, though, for the strength to love the 81%. Government, the president and even (especially?) the church will let me down, but Jesus keeps me believing. And He keeps me coming back.