To give thanks.
I am having difficulty this year, not because I don’t have a lot to be grateful for, but because fear took up residence in my heart after the election and has worked hard to push all other feelings aside. I am truly nervous for the future–the future of our country and my own family’s future. I want my children to be safe and happy. Not happy exactly; I want my children to be content with where they’re heading which really means, I want them both to be heading somewhere rewarding and confident they will get there. In other words, my goal for my children is that they have hope.
This election, the current result of this election, has tampered with my hope and the hope I had for my children’s futures. Yes, I have my health, food on my table, and a roof over my head. I have a job, a car, a comfy bed. I have many things other people around the world are not fortunate enough to have, to the point that not feeling thankful or not acknowledging my blessings makes me a privileged snob and I feel guilty for my lack of gratefulness. So yes, I ought to get over myself. But, I’ve lost something and I want it back.
Proverbs 13:12 teaches us that, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Personally, I feel sick. And no, not from gorging myself at Thanksgiving dinner. I am heart sick, overwhelmed by all the reports of harassment, intimidation, and violence, dejected by the lack of concern from those who demand I give Trump a chance and claim they aren’t sexist, racist, homophobic, or xenophobic. I am demoralized by most of the President-elect ‘s appointments. And, I feel helpless with regard to the on-going events at Standing Rock. Article after article on my news feed predicts gloom and doom for our country. And from Trump’s supporters? Jeering and hostility, or worse–silence.
My brain has tilted somehow and I cannot push it back to where it was. I don’t have a better way to explain how this election has impacted me. As a relatively safe person–because I’m white, because I’m educated, because I live in a rural community, and because I have a steady job–I haven’t personally felt the impact of what happened, so being off kilter like this doesn’t make sense. And that is precisely my problem–I can’t make sense of this.
Trump’s horrific treatment of women, xenophobic and racial slurs, mismanagement of money, abuse of employees, and manipulation of bankruptcy laws and tax codes were well-documented and often repeated. His verbiage and behavior doesn’t square with the work ethic and moral fiber of the American I knew and believed in, yet he was elected. I don’t want to believe that many Americans are racist or sexist. I don’t want to believe that many people are ready to abandon our principles of liberty and justice for all. And in fact when I listen to the other side, I hear many people argue that it is because they believe in those principles that they voted they way they did. They say they are tired of a government that has forgotten the needs of the working middle class, a government that caters to the whims of wealthy, a government that does not treat all people equally. That is why they elected the “outsider”. It was a perfect storm–people wanting change and a tough talking anti-politician offering to give it to them. But now that the hurricane has been unleashed, we need to learn to navigate the gale forces about to hit our shores. I know not everyone sees a storm coming but that lack of knowledge won’t protect them. And, I can’t shut my eyes and pretend I don’t see what I see. Fear cast a long shadow but perfect love casts out fear.
This Thanksgiving as I contemplate what I ought to be thankful for I am reminded of another passage of scripture, Isaiah 42:4 “He will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope.” Christians claim this prophesy points to Jesus. According to the Gospels the ministry of love Jesus walked out was often accomplished one person at a time–administering justice, healing a person’s wounds, addressing individual brokenness, and infusing the discouraged with hope.
So, it might not be much, but this year I am grateful for Christ’s one person model. It helps to revive my hope and that restores my balance.