What Now? How to Live After the Election

It was a rough political season. Tuesday was a hard, divisive election. Now we are dealing with the emotional, draining aftermath. At least we are on the internet, specifically social media.

I cringe before going on Facebook right now. If you read my other election post you will know that I have hidden a bunch of my more political friends. Still, my news feed is full of political articles, political comments, and political arguments. Do you know what I see and feel on Facebook right now, even from some of my Christian friends?

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Hatred, Fear, Worry, and Pride. Christian brothers and sisters, This. Is. Not. Right.

Hatred – For some reason, people seem to think that they can post awful things on social media that they would never say face to face. I have seen so many harsh, judgmental, rude, condemning comments. I have heard sweeping generalizations. People are ruthlessly fighting. There is very little love.

Fear – So much fear is being expressed on social media right now. Terror, really. It breaks my heart. Also, since I grew up in a fear-based cult, I know first hand that people who are afraid are easier to control. It’s not good.

Worry – Another way to describe worry is “borrowing trouble”. People are creating scenarios that are currently not true. Rather than focus on this beautiful fall day, where the sun is shining, and the sky is blue, people are consumed with “what if’s” that might happen.

Pride – When we feel that we are smarter, or more intellectual, than others, when everything seems black and white to us, or when we refuse to try and see from someone else’s perspective, that is pride.

The only one winning in this wildly stressful scenario is our enemy, Satan. The Bible calls him “the father of lies” so let’s fight him with the truth.

The TRUTH:

  • God is still the same as He was on Monday. He has not changed. He is not surprised at the results of the election. He has not lost control. We might not understand why He allows things to happen, but He has a purpose for everything.
  • The Bible is full of less-than-stellar leaders that God used anyway: Samson, the womanizing judge, Saul, the angry, sometimes possessed, first king of Israel, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon who took God’s people into captivity, etc. God will work His will through whichever messed-up person happens to be our president. It’s not like He hasn’t done it before.
  • This world is broken. The people who live in it are all broken. We will not have a perfect society until we are being ruled by King Jesus Himself.

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Feeling powerless is never a comfortable thing. It’s scary! So, what can we do if we don’t like the President-Elect, or if we can’t convince other people that our way is right, or if someone is telling us that we are ignorant and multi-phobic?

Let’s CHOOSE to control the only thing we can: ourselves.

  1. Choose grace: What would happen if we were willing to give everyone the benefit of the doubt whether or not our ideologies agree? Instead of making broad assumptions and condemnations, what if we choose to give grace? Instead of typing or texting or saying something, stop and think if it’s really necessary, if it will build up those who read/hear it. We need to remember that all people were created in the image of God, and He loves them and died for them (just like He did for us).
  1. Choose humility: None of us has the “perfect perspective”. The lenses through which we see life are affected by our past, our present, our personality, etc. None of us are smart enough to see the whole picture alone. We get the clearest perspective when we are able to hear from multiple people with different views, when we are able to share and listen without judgement or assumptions.
  1. Choose truth: We have an enemy, friends, and he wants to destroy us. His lies are sneaky and they often sound like our own thoughts. Have you been hearing things like “This is hopeless” or “Everyone is against me”? Those kinds of thoughts are not from God. The enemy wants to destroy you. Don’t let him! Choose to reject lies and fill your mind with God’s truth.
  1. Choose love: In a world that is increasingly filled with hate, choose to act with love. Reach out to others, including strangers, with a smile, a kind word, hold the door, etc. Choose to love your friends and family in tangible ways. Loving others also includes holding your tongue/fingers. Is that social media argument really necessary? Probably not.
  1. Choose gratitude: Instead of focusing on everything around you that isn’t going your way, instead of being frustrated by the people who don’t agree with you, choose to be thankful. Enjoy the blessings that God has given you such as your family, friends, home, possessions, this beautiful fall weather, etc. We have SO MUCH that we take for granted every day.
  1. Choose trust: You might feel like life is out of control, but God never loses it. Instead of freaking out, place your hope in a God who is bigger and more powerful than you could ever imagine. Rest in His Sovereignty and the fact that this world is not your home. Dream of heaven and life forever with your Savior.
  1. Choose mental health: If Facebook or Twitter or other social medias are stressing you out, if the news is triggering anger or worry, then I have a suggestion. Close your computer. Turn off your tablet or TV. Set down your smart phone. Take a walk, grab a coffee with a friend who won’t talk about politics, or get a massage to work out those tense muscle knots. Live your life! Make cookies, refinish some furniture, read a book with your children, recognize that your actual life has not changed. And, if it does someday as a result of this election, God is still on the throne!

Remember, no matter what, Jesus is still Jesus, the Gospel is still the good news, and God is still in control. Christian friends, let’s choose to believe truth and act with love and grace.

Married to Your Best Friend…

It’s my fault. If I planned better, I would actually schedule a massage with one of my favorite female therapists. But, I usually wait until I’m in desperate pain and then I get whoever happens to be available the morning of my chiropractic appointment.

That’s how I ended up, face down, talking with my young male masseuse about relationships and his new girlfriend. After finding out I was married, he wanted to know for how long. At the time it was just over eight years. I will never forget his response.

“Wow!! (pause) You must be one of those people who is really into commitment!”

Yup! That’d be me…one of those commitment freaks.

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My wonderful and incredibly opposite husband and I are in our tenth year of marriage. After nearly a decade together, I feel like I can say a few things about married life.

Every relationship has its own unique flavor. My brother and his beautiful wife led the way in our family as classic romantics. They sat close together, gazed lovingly into each other’s eyes, and whispered sweet nothings. My father, who enjoys his children’s relationships almost as much as his own, would watch them with a sappy smile on his face. Then Josh and I came along. We preferred chasing each other through the house with water guns, or frosting, or rolled kitchen towels complete with screams and giggles. I’m pretty sure my dad thought we were nuts. On our wedding day, we chose to have cheesecake instead of traditional cake just because we wanted to avoid the whole “cake cutting” situation and the mess that was inevitable. 🙂

I married my best friend, you guys, and we have worked hard for almost a decade to maintain our best-friend-status. Some years were easier than others. The baby season was the hardest, but we conquered it…hormones, dirty diapers, sleep deprivation and all.

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Please join me for a peak into our marriage. This is shared with permission. 🙂

A couple of weeks ago Josh got sick. We have totally different sick styles. Typically when I catch a germ, it’s such a light case Josh won’t believe that I’m sick. When Josh gets sick, he almost dies.  I don’t do well when Josh is sick. I’m usually a strong, no-nonsense woman who can take whatever life throws at me.  But my husband is my rock, my support, my comrade, and when he’s practically dying, I sort of fall apart.

As I try to take care of my poor husband, I start to realize how much I love him…like LOVE him. You married people will understand this better than my single readers. Emotions and lovey feelings tend to come and go once you are married for a while. The commitment of love should stay, but the butterflies aren’t always there.

For the rest of the week, I continued to feel these super strong emotions as he recovered and I kept trying to show him how much I loved him…but he just didn’t seem to get it. (Love language differences and all.) At least he didn’t respond with reciprocal love like I wanted.

Finally we reached the last straw.

It was Josh’s day off and I knew he wanted to take a nap and I was hoping we could nap together. But he just came in and said, “I’m taking a nap” and didn’t invite me. My overly-emotional brain freaked out and felt super sad, and I wanted to go pout in the basement until he came and found me (Sound familiar, ladies?), but I knew that wouldn’t work because, duh, I’ve been married for almost a decade, and it never works. So instead I went and mowed the lawn.

I never mow the lawn. We have a push mower but a really tiny lawn so it’s not a big deal, it’s just always something Josh does. My thought was, “Maybe if I go mow the lawn (something he needed to do that day), he will get it and feel how much I love him and love me back!”

I was even nice and started on the side of the house away from our bedroom where he was napping.

My poor, tired, still-recovering husband slept all through the lawn mowing. He literally came out just as I was finishing the last 3 or 4 strips. I am pushing the lawn mower, now in the rain, and he is staring at me with a confused smile on his face. “What are you doing?”

“Trying not to pout.” It came out kind of grumpy. He shook his head and walked away.

I finished up and took the mower back to the shed where he was puttering on some stuff. “What’s going on?” he asked.

I don’t normally cry. But there we were, me blubbering about how much I love him, and him shaking his head and smiling at me and wiping the tears off my face. Next thing I know we are hugging, and I’m sniffling, and he’s laughing, and we are friends again.

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In the weeks following this, I started thinking about our relationship and wondering what it is that makes us best friends. I think these six things definitely help.

  1. We communicate, eventually. After nine years of trying to be telepathic, I have come to the conclusion that Josh cannot read my mind. He doesn’t get hints, even ones that I think are obvious. He needs me to spell it out for him. We try hard to be honest with each other and we take time to talk.
  2. We serve each other. While we do have his/hers chores at our house, we are (usually) willing to jump in and help the other one out. We also take care of each other…for instance, it is pretty normal for us to give shoulder rubs/back massages at least once a week.
  3. We laugh together and at ourselves. Although becoming parents has tempered our rambunctious frosting fights a bit, we still have regular times of laughter and teasing. We enjoy humor and messing around with each other.
  4. We have never gone to bed angry. There have been times when we went to bed still not seeing eye to eye on an issue, but we have never gone to bed actually angry with each other. Not once. We have tried, but someone always wakes the other person up and makes them talk. As a result, we forgive and don’t hold grudges.
  5. We do life together. Josh has been a youth pastor for most of our marriage. I have been a youth leader with him for all of that time. Even when the kiddos were babies, we packed them up and they played on the floor of the youth room. We are in ministry, not just him. Although we have separate hobbies, we make sure that our relationship has the priority. We schedule dates every month, and try to get a night away together (or home if the kiddos are with grandparents) at least once each season.
  6. We have a bedtime routine. People laugh at this one, but I think it’s one of the main reasons for our closeness. Literally, almost every night we do the same thing. After the kiddos are in bed, we watch Netflix or CBS online together and eat ice cream. Then we brush our teeth together and go to bed. Bedtime together is our opportunity to talk, laugh, and pray. The only times in our nine years of marriage that we haven’t gone to bed together is when someone is gone or sick.

 

I don’t want you to read this and think we are perfect. Far from it. I could write many more posts about our fights, misunderstandings, and stupidities. Marriage has the potential to be a beautiful, wonderful thing! My hope is that this post will encourage you in your own marriage, to be real, to seek friendship, and to keep fighting. It’s worth it!