If you find that you are judging me for my faith and my politics, and yet have been willing to overlook President Elect Trump’s words and actions, I ask that you would read this with an open mind and a loving heart. That stance has struck me at my core, opened wounds that I thought had healed, and I’d like a moment to explain.
Throughout junior high, college, and post-college I attended a variety of churches in the same denomination. I attended these churches off and on (though, mostly on) until my late 20s. During this time, I made lifelong friends, grew in biblical knowledge, and developed a strong faith in Christ. I didn’t just believe my faith was Right, I believed my church was Right. I trusted the words of the denomination's pastors and missionaries often more than the words of the bible. I watched plays and movies, and read many books that taught me sinners were going to be thrown into the fiery pits of hell by angry red demons, and I was encouraged to make it clear to all sinners that this was their destiny. I cried out, wept, and stayed up through all hours of the night praying for the souls of the lost. This was our plight and our only hope. Their salvation was on my hands. I was not taught to love these sinners in any other way. Praying for them: good. Weeping for them: better. Letting them know they were headed for hell: best. Those were the best and only things I could really do.
Eventually this philosophy stopped making sense to me. All around me, I saw the people I was taught to judge, and they were deeply hurting. My heart swelled with love for people like I had never felt before and I wanted to see things as they saw them. I wanted to understand how they hurt and act in compassion instead of fear. And when my religious philosophy stopped making sense, it started a journey in my life that was filled with anger, confusion, doubt, and uncertainty. My husband and I decided we needed to make some difficult changes. Those changes affected our friendships and our family lives. When we decided to join a different denomination, people we loved and trusted - people who were formative in the foundation of our faith started whispering behind our backs. Nobody reached out to us. Nobody who worried about our souls offered to listen to our concerns, our doubts, our hurts. The few people who said anything to our faces told us we were making mistakes and argued with us; the rest whispered when they didn’t think we could hear. Friends and family members who left the denomination (or similar denominations) around the same time supported us and commiserated with us. Friends and family members who stayed left us out, talked with us less, and stopped inviting us to things we would have really like to attend. My anger grew by leaps and bounds. I wanted to be angry at God. I had many doubts and I wanted to disbelieve, but I couldn’t; and I realized I wasn’t angry at God, but angry at the people who helped steer my faith.
Over the many years since this time, I’ve done some good and some bad. I’ve been generous as well as selfish. I’ve grown, regressed, grown, and still have so much more to learn. I’ve been really angry, and I’ve been able to deal with some of that anger. I’ve worked on forgiveness and worked on channeling my anger for good. I thought I was doing okay until Wednesday morning when the election results came in.
Candidates I have rooted for have lost before. I have disliked many, many, many aspects of politics throughout my voting life. I have voted republican, independent, and democrat, and I’ve even often been disappointed with the very people I have voted for. It’s politics, people disagree, and life goes on. If Donald Trump as the president elect was simply a matter of the votes of people I disagree with, I could handle it. But people voting for a guy like Donald Trump in the name of the Lord has shaken me to my core.
My feelings are hurt. I have felt many of the conservative Christians in my life judging me for more than 10 years. They judge me because I don’t go to the same type of church as them. They judge my politics. They judge my parenting and my salvation. They judge the books I read. They judge me as a teacher. They judge me because I do yoga. They barely talk to me and they almost never ask me anything personal, but I hear their whispers and I see their glances. Not only has it been difficult, but it has affected every aspect of my life and the person I am today.
I feel I have been given less grace for my transgressions than I’m watching conservative Christians give to a man who has bragged about grabbing women by the pussies, is awaiting trial for fraud AND allegedly raping a 13-year-old girl, clearly disrespects women, has been through multiple divorces, has a clear involvement in today’s pornographic culture, and the list goes on. Those things can be overlooked because … he’s a republican? The thing is that I can’t understand it and I probably never will, but I am experiencing it and it hurts.
It makes me angry and it makes me want to lash out. The injustice is astounding. The message being sent is loud and clear, and I feel over it. I feel finished with trying to play nice, over trying not to rock the boat. I don’t want to be a whiner … I want to work for a difference. I have been upset with politics for most of my voting life; but I can’t sit back and watch a world that accepts a man like Donald Trump as its highest leader. So it begins. I don’t have the answers, I don’t yet have a plan. But today it begins.