The World As It Should Be | Sojourners

The World As It Should Be

Image via JP Keenan/Sojourners.

During an election season, it’s easy to lose oneself in the demoralizing and dehumanizing nature of identity politics. In times like these, I’m reminded of how important it is to stay grounded in who you are and whose you are. To know your own story and to speak your truth.

So I must say that I’m honestly heartbroken over this election. I refuse to numb or dismiss the pain I’m feeling through simple platitudes such as “God is in control” or “Jesus is on the throne.” And I will not shy away from the grief and hurt I see in my community and among strangers in the street.

Hillary may not have been your candidate of choice, and she certainly did not espouse all my values and beliefs. But for the first time in U.S. history, we had a real chance to elect a woman president. To honor all the suffragettes — Ida B. Wells, Anna Julia Cooper, Susan B. Anthony — and countless women who fought valiantly for the right to vote so that women could be seen as fully human, made in the image of God, and created to exercise dominion through the ballot box and beyond.

We had a chance to break barriers and affirm that women are of sacred worth — glass ceilings be damned! But those hopes and dreams were shattered on election night, and I mourn the loss of what could have been.

As a Christian, I believe in the power of lament and hold fast to the scriptures that speak of the One who hears our anguish, sees our tears, and weeps with us. In a world built on the lie that vulnerability is weakness, lamentation is a radical and revolutionary act that creates space for us to be honest and humble before God and one another.

And so I lament that as one of oldest democracies in the world, we have yet to elect a woman as head of state.

I grieve that little girls will be told time and time again that they can be anything they want to be, yet still won’t see themselves represented in the highest office in this land.

I mourn, that our president-elect campaigned on a platform built on lies, deceit, and fear mongering.

I bemoan the fact that Trump’s messages of racism, misogyny, and xenophobia were welcomed and received by so many in my country – particularly among my white evangelical friends.

And as a rape survivor, I weep that our new Commander in Chief brags about committing sexual assault and dismisses it as “locker room talk.” The misogynistic rhetoric of this election has reopened wounds for countless women and other survivors, and the trauma continues. If you want to know #WhyWomenDontReport such crimes, look no further than this election cycle where violence and abuse has been normalized on the national stage without consequence.

And so I cry out on behalf of myself and all those who despair:

How long, oh Lord, must other victims and survivors live with no justice, no peace?

How long, oh Lord, must our undocumented sisters and brother live in the shadows and in fear of deportation?

How long, oh Lord, must our LGBTQ family and friends live without equal rights and recognition in our churches and communities?

How long, oh Lord, must women and girls disproportionately suffer under the weight of poverty, climate change, and exploitation?

How long, oh Lord, must Arabs and Muslims live as outsiders and as suspected terrorists?

How long, oh Lord, must our indigenous sisters and brothers continue to fight for their sacred land centuries after it was stolen from them?

How long, oh Lord, must those who abort a baby live in silence and shame?

How long, oh Lord, must our black sisters and brothers live in a society that says all lives matter — except yours?

And how long, oh Lord, will Christians continue to preach about personal sin and salvation without any regard for social sins, structural inequalities, and the hells of injustice here and now?

But as we engage in lament, may we not lose hope or grow weary in doing good. The beauty about lament is that it opens up space for us to acknowledge the reality that things are not as they should be, and we must lean closer to God and one another if we are to build a better world.

While I mourn how this election threatens to erode the progress that’s been made over the last eight years, I am reminded this is not our whole story as a nation nor as citizens of the kin-dom of God. There is a better story yet to be written.

Storytelling is at the heart of all movements. If we have ears to hear and eyes to see, stories can inspire us to listen deeply and to compassionately respond to the voices and lived experiences of those on the margins of society.

Many of us are hurting today — particularly women, people of color, queers, and anyone who may be disenfranchised by our president-elect. Now, more than ever, it’s time for Christians to step up and reclaim their unique role and power as storytellers, healers, and restorers of the breach.

Aside from Alcoholics Anonymous, there are not many places in society where people can gather in community to be real with one another about their struggles and fears, their hopes and dreams.

But what if churches provided opportunities for people to journey together in recovery and restoration?

To allow people to share their stories and be heard and seen with dignity. To hold space for one another through life’s traumas and uncertainties. To minister to the soul of America with moral imagination and conviction.

That’s the body of Christ and beloved community that I long for. And one that could be quite healing for all those disillusioned and disheartened by this election.

But as we pray and heal together, we must also act prophetically in spirit and in truth.

From the suffrage movement to the civil rights movement, churches have a powerful legacy of igniting social change. And our biblical heritage is rich with stories of people of faith resisting oppression and doing extraordinary things together. Through creativity and resiliency, congregations can help lead the way to transformative healing for our communities and our nation.

But make no mistake, resistance comes at a cost. As Frederick Douglass keenly observed, “Power concedes nothing without a demand.”

If we are to challenge the status quo and Trump’s bleak vision for America, we must be prepared to take risks. It will require moral courage and sacrifice for us to stand in solidarity with those who are already being attacked, harassed, and profiled.

But that is the cost of discipleship — of loving your neighbor as yourself with radical faith and hope that love can and will trump hate. 

This journey toward justice will not be easy, but we are not alone. She who is the Spirit is already on the move, making all things new even in the direst circumstances.

I take comfort in knowing that even though Hillary did not break through that glass ceiling, other women made great strides on election night.

In Minnesota, Ilhan Omar — a former refugee — became the first Somali-American Muslim woman to be elected to Congress. She represents the hopes and dreams of so many mistreated and misunderstood refugees and Muslims.

And in Nevada, Catherine Cortez Masto became the first Latina to be elected to the Senate and has promised to champion equal pay, family leave, and immigration reform every step of the way. (I’m with her.)

So no matter what happens, look for these stories. Know your own. And if you profess to follow Christ, witness to the greatest story ever told — the good news of the gospel which promises that death, in all its forms, will not have the final word.

There is a season for mourning, but also for healing and resistance. A time to lament and to see the world as it is, but also a time to dream of the world as it should be.

In this season, may we fight like holy hell for and with each other. May we engage in holy disruption to heal the wounds of bigotry, sexism, and nationalism that have been exposed by this election. And may we trouble the waters with holy mischief to affirm the equality and empowerment of all God’s children — no matter what it costs us.