The 2016 presidential election has left many to wonder what the future holds — for us, for our friends, for the progressive gains in this country, for an evangelicalism in which 81 percent of our white brothers and sisters overlooked messages of hate. There is much to dissect and much work to do in the wake of this unprecedented event.
As Jim Wallis said in his column last week, Sojourners has a commitment to report the truth and replace fear with facts in our ongoing coverage and commentary. We plan to hold the incoming administration accountable for its words and actions, and to provide you with the timely and accurate news and information you need to do the same. But we also commit to providing a space to listen to each other, to lift up the voices of the communities we need to hear from, to offer our platform for shared healing and resistance.
The day after the election, we launched our Reader Stories, an open platform for our readers to share their thoughts, feelings, and next steps. The response was overwhelming.
We published 100 stories from readers across the country and internationally (explore the map below). We heard from a lifelong Republican and sexual assault survivor, a member of the military, a transgender woman, a grandmother fighting cancer, a Southern Baptist feminist raised in purity culture, a leader of a Christian nonprofit in Iraq, a descendent of the Armenian Genocide, organizers, young activists, parents, and on and on. Your words resonated deeply and spurred many to action. It also gave the editors and activists here at Sojourners much-needed fuel for the journey ahead.
So thank you. This week and always, we are so thankful for the readers of Sojourners and the giant community you represent — one marked by a commitment to the gospel and to each other.
The editors will be offering other opportunities to share in the forthcoming months and years, and as always, we want to hear from you. For now, you can support this effort and all of our work by reading, subscribing, and giving.
—the Web Editors
Scroll down to browse the stories, or explore the map to see from where throughout the country (and internationally) the stories were drawn.
Will the Office 'Make the Man'?
When Harry Truman was running for president, I was working for Adlai Stevenson and thought Truman would bring in the Kansas City mafioso and bad government. History now calls President Truman one of the "Great Presidents" along with Jefferson, Lincoln, et al. My prayer is that President-elect Trump will prove the same, i.e., the country's needs will overweigh his egocentric points of view and consider the citizens who did and didn't elect him. The office has 'made' the man often (I will wish it could have been a woman but probably not in my lifetime.) I will honor Mr. Trump and serve as a good citizen.
Silence Is Consent to the Forces of Fear, Anger, and Division
I did my best to stay quiet during the election. I believed that my job was to vote, live and work intentionally for justice in my Central Detroit neighborhood, and volunteer to turn out the vote. I avoided raising my voice.
Unfortunately, that does not appear to be an option anymore.
The reality is that a xenophobic, sexist demagogue with dictatorial tendencies whose primary platform was a white nationalist agenda was elected by the evangelical church. 80% of evangelicals voted for Trump. In the face of this, one thing shifts into dramatic clarity:
We cannot be quiet anymore. We can't be quiet when white supremacy has been elevated to become the dominant political force in America, and in the American church (side-note: It always has been). We can't be quiet when our Muslim brothers and sisters are deliberately targeted by our federal government. We can't be quiet while walls are built and immigrants demonized. We can't be quiet when refugees are referred to as terrorists, and black Americans labeled as criminals. We can't be quiet when women are reduced to their anatomy and sexuality.
This Is Not Simple
This is not merely the sting of defeat.
This is not simply the "democratic process."
This is not simple.
This is fear for my brothers and sisters of color who already live in fear of simple traffic stops.
This is agony for an LGBTQ community that distresses over lost gains in equality.
This is despair in a country that has seemed to legitimize misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia, and bullying.
This is torment over the suffering of refugees who may be turned away by policies governed by hate.
This is terror at the prospect of further environmental destruction in the name of profit and "security."
This is not simple.
So I turn my heart over to God, that even though the crowd has shouted for Barabbas to be released, we worship a Lord who remains vigilant, a Christ who will rise, and a Spirit that is actively at work.
Our work for God's justice is more important now than ever.
Courage for Our Friends
" ... despair is for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not." —J.R.R. Tolkien, in The Fellowship of the Ring
For all those feeling hopeless after the election result: Your feelings are your feelings and you have every right feel them as long as you need to — so feel free to stop reading now if you're not ready to move beyond that feeling just yet.
In the hopes that this will provide some comfort, though: The truth of the universe is that we have a highly imperfect picture of what the future ACTUALLY holds, no matter how much we think we know how any particular events or actions are going to play out. So to go through the next few months or the next 4 years in a posture of hopelessness (i.e., despair) will not help you protect all the individuals and groups of people who have more to fear today than they did on Tuesday morning —and standing together in protection of all threatened and marginalized people is what is called for now.
Even more fundamentally, though, despair is actually an epistemological mistake. By definition, empirically and undeniably, THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE.
(this is, incidentally, more or less the definition of faith, but as I've tried to explain it's also an unambiguous truth that doesn't require faith)
Finally, as Eowyn tells Merry: "Courage, Merry. Courage for our friends." No matter what we look like, how we worship, or who we love, we all need to find the courage and be ready in the days ahead to fight for those who don't look like us, worship like us, or love like us.
Finding Comfort in Our Statement of Faith
For myself, for my special wife, already at school seeking to make a difference, for my two compassionate children and the loves of their lives, for family and friends everywhere, for the loving people with whom I am honored to serve at the PC(USA) church where I serve as pastor, and most especially for my grandchildren whom though they do not yet know it may be most at risk of losing much of what already makes America great, I am drawn to these words from, "A Brief Statement of Faith."
November 9 is my birthday and so my "birthday" prayer and hope is that these words may comfort, counsel, and challenge each and all of us:
"... We trust in God the Holy Spirit, everywhere the giver and renewer of life.
The Spirit justifies us by grace through faith, sets us free to accept ourselves and to love God and neighbor, and binds us together with all believers in the one body of Christ, the church.
... In a broken and fearful world the Spirit gives us courage
to pray without ceasing,
to witness among all peoples to Christ as Lord and Savior,
to unmask idolatries in church and culture,
to hear the voices of peoples long silenced,
and to work with others for justice, freedom, and peace.
In gratitude to God, empowered by the Spirit, we strive to serve Christ in our daily tasks and to live holy and joyful lives,
even as we watch for God's new heaven and new earth, praying, Come, Lord Jesus!"
The link to the entire "A Brief Statement" is here: https://www.creeds.net/reformed/brief.htm
From a Very Divided Campus, in a Very Divided State, in a Very Divided Nation
As an Anthropology professor who has spent my entire life championing diversity, I was shocked and stunned by this election. But I live and work in Utah, where Trump won the vote in my county and my state by more than a two-to-one margin. When I arrived on campus yesterday, the day after the election, I knew I would shortly have to walk into my “Peoples of Latin America” classroom and lecture to my 95 undergraduate students. To make matters worse, the topic of this week’s material is immigration. I had no idea how I would even begin to process what I was feeling — or how I could stand before these students — many of whom have never left the comfort of their highly conservative, devoutly Mormon, Utah homes.
Demographics are, of course, changing in Utah. Twenty years ago, Latinos and Hispanics made up less than three percent of our local city and county population. Now, more than 30% of graduating high school students in my community are of Hispanic origin. Many more of the students in my Peoples of Latin America class are also Latino and Hispanic than when I first started teaching this class two decades ago. Changing tuition policies at our public university have lately attracted a surge of students from nearby states like Arizona, Nevada, and California.
In my Latin America class, the subject matter of the course also attracts diversity. There are significant numbers of caramel-skinned students from cities like Los Angeles and Phoenix as well as from countries like El Salvador and Colombia in this particular class. But, we are still Utah — one of the reddest states in the nation. Marriage equality and a woman’s right to choose, religious pluralism and even equal pay for equal work are all problematic issues in my state.
Christians: Our Faith Is at Stake
Before I can move on, I must share this: 81% of evangelicals voted for a person whose words, character, behavior and promises were more opposed to the values and message of Christian faith than any presidential candidate in my lifetime. Some white evangelical leaders were in support, and others were deafening in their silence. They have destroyed any remaining credibility of the term "evangelical" in our our culture. And it should not be forgotten that evangelicals who are people of color, and some women leaders, were prominent among those making a very different public witness.
The results among mainline Protestants in the pews were not that much different, though this has not been tracked as carefully. And 67% of white Catholics supported Trump. All this says to me that this election marked the defeat of the public witness of Christians in the parishes and pews of America's churches — and especially those that are predominantly white. This is not about Democratic or Republican politics. It's about the ability of the Christian community to recognize when the integrity of our faith is at stake in the public square. That means that those, like myself, who have carried responsibilities to nurture faithful discipleship through Christian institutions, denominational structures, and organizations, have failed in the test of this time. Facing honestly this failure and loss is the only way God's grace can open the way to a different future.
Love Your Enemies, Do Good to Those Who Hate You
About 2 a.m. on November 9, it was clear where the election had gone, so I turned off the television, took my dog for a walk, and stopped in our front yard as we returned to pull up our two Clinton-Kaine election signs. Later in the morning, I took a shower, but I felt unable to wash off the sticky residue of the presidential campaign just ended. I felt and still feel dirty; I feel like I've been inside the primate enclosure of some zoo where an angry outcast has been flinging feces and climbing, against all odds, to the highest position in the pack. I don't know that any amount of scrubbing will cleanse this.
I dressed and drove to the church to meet an electrician who diagnosed why our outside lights have stopped coming on automatically at night. I spent the day trying unsuccessfully to diagnose why the light seems to have gone out of the country, why it feels as if a darkness of spirit has descended, and what — if anything — I as a county-town parish priest can do about it. What words can I say that will uplift those who find this election a crushing blow, what can I say to those who will crow about the triumph of something paradoxically called "the right."
I Will Not Give You Empty Platitudes
Black friends, I love you. You are kind, gentle, brilliant, strong, and wonderful dads and moms. I'm sorry we have branded your bodies and your entire identity because we thought we were superior.
Mexican friends, I love you. You are a gift—not a drain—on our society. I'm sorry you are so often disparaged, used, and mocked so that I can have an easier life.
Muslim friends, I love you. You teach me so much about faith, family, friendship, and God. I'm sorry we, as Christians, have not stood more faithfully beside you. I think today many of us understand a little better what you've been trying to tell us about interpretations of your faith that you don't even recognize.
Refugee friends, I love you. You are more brave and more generous than I'll ever be. I'm sorry we couldn't do better for you. For now, you can do better than America. Maybe one day we will be worthy of you again. Don't give up your hope.
A Prayer for Our Nation
I found my words. A prayer for our nation.
You were born and walked and lived in days much more grave than ours. You know something about confronting the kingdoms of men. You know something about confronting Pharisees. You know something about answering the calls of a people desperately crying out for shalom —for peace, for justice, for equity, for the radical wellness of all relationships in creation.
We stand a bludgeoned people. For two years we have sustained the crackling lash of racist rhetoric. We have weathered the assault of hashtags and legislative stalemates, and policies that threatened the wellbeing of marginalized images of God inside and beyond our borders. Worst, we have witnessed before our very eyes the corruption of Christian faith — the exploitation of your scriptures to crush the image of God on earth.
Standing on the Shoulders of the Suffragists
I took my 11-year-old son to vote with me on Tuesday. As he pushed the "Vote Now" button, tears streamed down my face. I was so overcome with emotion at the thought that my son had just helped me vote for a woman for president. After we voted, we headed to a bleak corner cemetery in North Philadelphia. I cried again as we stood in front of Lucretia Mott's grave. As a leading suffragist and contemporary of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, she sacrificed so much so that in 2016 a woman could vote for another woman for president.
Hillary might not have won, but I will never forget that amazing moment of joy as my son watched his mother vote for a future with equal rights, for freedom for all, for open borders and open hearts.
Our Children Have Become Collateral Damage
We live, work, serve, and worship in a very diverse urban neighborhood. Our church held a prayer meeting Wednesday evening where about 30 folks attended, including many youth. Our group was as diverse as our neighborhood, and we had Latino, Black, and Caucasian folks join us.
The neighborhood surrounding the church is greater than 60% Latino, so helping our neighbors work through immigration challenges is a significant part of our justice ministry. We read Scripture, sang, and prayed. While the adults expressed dismay and anger about the election results, it was the youth, especially the teens, who displayed gut-wrenching anguish. Many youth in attendance have already been bullied by classmates telling them they would soon be deported. We heard that a best friend turned on a youth in our congregation, and said horrible and hateful things to him in school. Teens sobbed and shook as they shared their fears and anxieties about their blended documented/undocumented families being split up. Black teens prayed that our community wouldn't be torn apart. One white teen said that she was embarrassed to be white, and that she hadn't wanted to attend school and be blamed for the election results.
Here is what struck me: As adults we can and will work through the reality of a Trump presidency; however, our children have already become collateral damage from the hateful rhetoric and policies of an odious president-elect. Our youth will carry gut-wrenching burdens and scars that will continue to challenge, harm, and even deter the next generation growing up in our community. As a church, we must find a way to project Christ and His love, grace, and faithful fortitude as our families and community faces uncertainty, upheaval, and turmoil moving forward.
The View from Abroad
My husband and I are expats in Germany for a year. We woke up at 5:30 in the morning to discover that the unfathomable had come true. Donald Trump was actually elected. The rest of the day we were in a fog, and everywhere we went those around us were in shock. The Germans are in disbelief, as are our friends from around the world. They are worried not only about the fear and hate rising in America and around the globe. Lord, please use us to bring peace and healing!
If I Have to March Down Pennsylvania Ave. Rolling an IV Pole Alongside Me, I Will
Working my way through shock, denial and anger at the direction chosen by the majority of my fellow — and sadly, sister — citizens. I mourn the loss of the country I thought I lived in where there was freedom of religion and freedom from fear. I fear now for my five grandchildren's futures. One has severe disabilities, three are bi-racial males, and one is female. I have much uncertainty in my own future as I fight cancer, lymphoma, for the third time in eight years. Will our limited income become even more limited? Will my pension ( I work for a school) be preserved? Will the age of medicare be raised? Will it be legal once again for Insurance compaies to deny coverage? These things were pledged by our soon-to-be POTUS.
But I am praying to get to a point of hope. We must be more vigilant about standing up to racism, sexism, bullying and "Christians" who value their own financial well-being and status quo over Jesus's commandment of caring for those in need. If I have to march down Pennsylvania Avenue rolling an IV pole alongside me, I will.
Anger is exhausting at a time when chemo is already serving up exhaustion as a side effect. I have to meditate my way past all this raw emotion. No more looking back in anger. Only look back to learn how to improve our future.
At first, most of us decided we were having a nightmare. You know the kind that seems like it’s going on way too long and it’s way too detailed to be a dream and when you finally wake up you are soooo relieved?
Except we’ve not woken up yet.
Many of us are still saying, “What??” This is where I’ve been since election night: shock and denial, and glad for it. Because I know what happens next. I know gut-grief.
I finally gave in to a short burst of tears this afternoon. How could my fellow Americans have voted for a man who makes fun of disabled people and says he wants to punch a person in the face? A man who talks about grabbing women’s crotches? Just no. And given that over 60% of Americans believe he's unqualified to be president, how could so many vote for him anyway?
A Letter to My Children
Tuesday morning I'd stood in the booth and wept as I voted for Hillary. I wept at the weight and honor of voting in our first female president. I wept at how I would tell my daughter about this day. I went home and put my sticker on a piece of notebook paper to write her a letter on, to tuck it away and save it for her. I was so sure. I won't write that letter. I still have the notebook paper and I will still write a letter, to both my children, but it will say very different things.
I will tell them about the phone calls I got Tuesday night from a Mexican friend; I will tell them about her hysterical sobs as she talked about her nieces and nephews and her fear for them. I will write about the message I got from a childhood friend, a bisexual woman who is now the mother of a beautiful mixed-race daughter; I'll tell them how she begged me to help her understand how to handle this. I will write in that letter about how my 5th grade teacher accused me of being dishonest, naive, and foolish when I expressed public sympathy for anyone feeling afraid, how she said anyone feeling fear was afraid because of their own illegal actions. I will write to my kids on that letter, with my "I voted" sticker on it and I will tell them about being courageous in the face of fear, being gentle in the face of pain, and I will tell them about being a force for good in the face of injustice. It isn't the letter I wanted to write. This isn't the way this was supposed to go.
What the Fruits of the Spirit Can Tell Us
“Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
For the past twenty-four hours I’ve been trying to process what all has just transpired. I’ve been reading what people have shared on social media in the midst of their very real pain, anger, and fear. I’ve seen glimpses of hope in the art, quotes, and wisdom many of you have shared. It's helped. The above words, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control above have rattled around my head today and have also helped calm my nerves some.
Yeah, it’s from the Bible. And yeah, I get if the last thing you want to hear is something from the Bible after evangelicals handed the presidency to that guy. But perhaps they’ll ring true with you nonetheless as I've found them helpful.
Love. You know this one’s never been easy. And if it has been, maybe you weren’t doing it right. Jesus says to love your enemy. It means I’ve got to find ways to love some people that I find to be breathtakingly awful people. But humans nonetheless that deserve love even when they deny it to others. Not excited about this, but working on it.
Joy. I’ll find this in picking up my son and tossing him the air. He’ll giggle and squeal. Perhaps I can create some joy in others and indulge in it where I stumble upon it.
Peace. Peace not through saying everything’s okay. But peace in knowing that we’re in this together. A happy ending isn’t promised. Just know that you’re not alone. You’re not forgotten. Don’t despair. I’m going to do my best to be here for you. I know others are here too.
Patience. Take a deep breath. Seriously. Breathe in ... Hold it … are you holding it? … fine then ... breathe out. Repeat. Repeat again and this time really do it. Try to give a little extra grace today. God knows I need it.
Kindness. I think kindness is closely linked to being thoughtful. I’m pretty wrapped up in my own head most of the time. So perhaps it’s stopping that inner monologue and listening a little more. Ugh.
Goodness. You know what goodness is? Brownies and ice cream. Seriously. Go ahead and have a little extra dessert. I had like half a pan of brownies and a quart of ice cream last night. Embrace some radical self-care for a moment.
Faithfulness. Faithfully stick to what is true and right. When someone is wronged for their age, gender, race, sexuality, religion, or politics, don’t look the other way but get involved. Don’t just vote and walk away. Don't move to Canada. Be steadfast and resolute to offer encouragement at every opportunity and resistance when needed.
Gentleness. Things are tense. Let’s try our best to de-escalate things perhaps. The picture below comes to mind.
Self control. When I see that Facebook post that makes me want to reach through the screen and shake the person on the other side … self control. (Maybe unfollow if it’s truly heinous.) I remind myself I've never won a Facebook argument.
These things are things I can control. They’re things I’m still working on. Frankly, they’re things I’m not real good at. But I’m pretty convinced they’ll get me headed in the right direction. Perhaps get us all headed in a better direction.
Beauty Can Come from Ashes
Several years ago, I found myself gravitating toward the words love, kinship, and humility. These words came up in a number of places, again and again, so I paid attention. As this election ramped up, and Trump gained steam, my heart broke as I saw many in my country gravitate toward the opposite of these three words. I can honestly say that I couldn't believe people resonated with the opposite message, with Trump's fear-based message. And that is what we have chosen - fear over love. We have chosen moral bankruptcy over strength of character and integrity. Certainly this is where it gets tricky, knowing that Clinton has her moral and character flaws as well. Yet in comparing the two, to me there is a marked difference, and thinking of Trump's stance - and the fact that this stance now represents our country, at least to a degree - is very hard to swallow. My heart is broken, and in response I will look for opportunities to act out of what I deeply believe and seek wisdom in how to pray. I am an eternal optimist, and as such my hope lies in knowing that beauty can come from ashes.
This Isn't What I Fought For
"This isn't what I fought for. This isn't what I buried friends for."
That's what I said last night, while I watched my the election results come in. I have no outlet, because the answer I get is "well sure you did. You fought for the right for people to vote the way they want." So, I turn here to say: I didn't. By all that is right and holy, I didn't.
I joined our Navy, and then our Army, to defend Freedom. Freedom for people to marry whoever they wanted. Freedom for people to discover who God made them to be, free from the judgment of others, or the social constructs of sex and gender. Freedom for a female president. Freedom for every last one of my sisters and brothers - regardless of gender, race, faith, lifestyle, you-name it - to live without fear for their future. Freedom for sexual assault victims to receive the justice they deserve. Freedom for women to exercise autonomy over their bodies. Freedom for us all to strive for a day when we are all that one step closer to realizing the Kingdom of Heaven here in our nation.
Holding Space for Others
On Election Day, I monitored the polls for Election Protection. For me, this was a healing and heartening experience after this bitter season. I saw people of all races and ethnicities, all preferences and abilities, from infant to ancient, as they came to cast their one precious vote. Have I mentioned I love Election Day? My parents immigrated here when I was only 6 (the same age as my youngest son now) from a country where people were dying to vote. Literally.
But by midnight, all that healing was gone. I was a weeping mess of disbelief and fear. That lasted nearly 24 hours. In the middle, I had to tell my 6-year-old that his favorite candidate had lost. "But Mom, maybe they counted wrong?" Sorry, sweetie. It's complicated. I went back to my sack cloth and ashes. Gradually, wise friends emerged. We sat together, talking of the work that needs doing, no matter who is president. Speaking of our precious right to vote, and the responsibility of holding space for others, no matter the outcome.
A Renewed Call
As I sat in my mother's hospital room last evening, I listened to family members talk about why they voted for Donald Trump. A knot formed in my stomach as I grew angry wondering why loving and intelligent people detested Hillary so deeply that they would cast a vote for a man who practices hate and preaches simplistic unjust solutions. Then I woke up to learn the worst had happened.
At work I attended a Safety and Security Team Meeting where we discussed our need to encourage and teach the congregation to replace fear, as our Parish Administrator said, with prudence. Our plans include response training for an active shooter situation.
Anxiety stifles imagination and promotes knee-jerk decision making. It is a horrible burden, a living death that's contrary to Jesus' will of abundant life. A renewed awareness of my call to preach and live the gospel of Jesus more faithfully and clearly swept over me while sitting in traffic later in the day. The knot began to loosen.
Sitting in Ashes
I am experiencing the last 36 hours through a few lenses: I am a woman, I am white, I am queer.
I was so excited, as a woman, to vote for what I thought would be the first female president. No, excited doesn't touch it — thrilled, proud beyond measure to finally see someone who looks like me at the helm. Buoyant, jubilant, hopeful.
This Is the Second Time This Has Happened
For those that think, "It's over," I think that you may be surprised.
If you look at the by-county results around the nation, we are clearly a deeply divided and angry country. You will remember this is the second time this has happened in our lifetime. Remember 1968 and Chicago.
We may need to do again what we did then. Take to the streets. Be the voice of peace and reconciliation. Should be easier second time around.
And this time, the Millennials, our kids, will be on the same side as their parents!
'I Wish This Was a Better Place for You'
A side effect of a restless night, our whole house was awake early this morning. I am usually up, dressed, and gone to work by the time my wife gets up, so I was grateful to see her this morning. Then, our daughter woke to the sounds of the two of us debriefing and pouring over polling numbers in California, and whether or not Hillary Clinton would overtake the popular vote. Seeing Liv in the morning is a rare treat, and I picked her up and kissed her.
I immediately felt a need to apologize to her. The right words were buried in my chest, and all I could get out was something like "I wish this was a better place for you." I put her down and we ate breakfast, then I dressed her for daycare and started getting ready to head to work. I kissed my wife goodbye, kissed my daughter again, and got in my truck.
Yesterday I Voted. Today I Choose.
After a rather tumultuous night last night, between a fussy 2-month-old and resisting urges to check election updates, I woke up this morning restless, irritated yet gullibly hopeful. What I fell asleep to last night was a deepening sense of panic that I had not known for some time. I am strong, I am a mom, I have overcome adversity before. But this morning was different. Not because of the election results that I braced myself for, but I had a greater sense of dread. "What would my Facebook timeline look like?" "Will I be forced to unfriend people because of status updates spewing hatred and divisiveness?" "Will my predominantly white, Southern Baptist church still welcome my family or will there be those who feel empowered by the results of this election to remind us of our otherness?"
And after much consternation and a much-needed cup of coffee, I composed these words to share with my Facebook friends and family.
O My Soul, Faint Not
Like many, I was shocked by the results of the presidential election. I found out at 4 a.m. via a friend’s text message and didn’t sleep the rest of the night.
As a progressive leaning Christian, I’ve been spiritually homeless — unattached to any kind of church community — for months. I’m deeply committed to my relationship with Christ, but also deeply frustrated with and wounded by American Evangelicalism. I live in a politically conservative community and the idea of walking into a Sunday service is exhausting. For the past six months, the only thing keeping me going is my morning prayer time and progressive outlets like Sojourners and The Liturgist Podcast. They make me feel like I’m not alone.
When I rolled out of bed for my usual time reading the Bible and praying, I found myself at a loss for words. I didn’t know how to pray about the pain that I felt. So I just sat there in silence, knowing that God was there even though I didn’t feel like it.
I Feel Like I've Been Raped Again
I am a pastor, a wife, a daughter, and a survivor of sexual assault. All day long, I have felt this visceral pain, strong enough to take my breath away, a sorrow unlike any since my assault, a sadness bordering on suicidal, a deep, dark disappointment in the people I serve every day. The bile has risen in my throat. I screamed as loud as I could at a truck carrying huge Trump and Confederate flags, for in this part of the country, the two go together. Why this rage, I wondered. Why these tears and deep pains in my body? And then it hit me — I feel like I've been raped again. How many other women and men share this particular kind of pain this night? What will give us relief or hope?
Those Who Mourn Will Be Comforted
My story begins over one hundred years ago in what was once the Ottoman Empire. My great-great-grandfather Sarkis Mouradian lost his son Madiros within the first week of the Armenian Genocide and, overwhelmed with grief, committed suicide two days later. Madiros's brother, my great-grandfater Krikor, fled to the United States with his new wife, Satenig as non-English speaking illegal immigrants. My family still has the fake passports that they used to gain entry to the United States.
They began to build a life for themselves here in America. They had two daughters and a son, Albert, who fought in the Marines during the Second World War and was KIA at Okinawa. We still have copies of Albert's letters home to his parents, as well as the letter from the military informing the family of Albert's death.
When I see what has been said about the immigrant, about the marginalized, about the oppressed in this election cycle, I not only know that it flies in the face of the vast quantities of Scripture that exhort us to protect and uplift such peoples, I also know that it is eerily and ghastly similar to the same sort of rhetoric that was deployed in the buildup to the Armenian Genocide.
The Ridiculous Responsibility of Raising and Teaching a Child
Every morning I wake my two boys up with the words, "Time to get up and change the world!" And I mean it. I BELIEVE it. That they can and that they should. Never in my life more than today.
The first thing I did when I woke up is Google "how to talk to your kids about a trump presidency." Sadly there were already several articles. None that I felt addressed the concerns and fears and confusion that my own children would experience. They are not Muslim, or black, or Mexican, or even women. But they are children who feel passionately for these populations.
Contrary to what some might think, I haven't spoken considerably to my children about Trump. I did voice my dislike for him and for what he stands for, but much of what they learned about him, his plans, his words, was learned through other people around them and, for Aiden, his own reading of articles and such. They came to many of their own conclusions about how they felt based on his views that opposed their own.
I’m Not Afraid, and I’m Not Leaving
I’m not afraid and I’m not leaving.
What I am is disappointed. I had far more hope in the character of the American people than was displayed by their behavior in last night’s election. What has become painfully evident is that slightly less than half our registered voters are willing to be led into hatred motivated by their fear. A large portion of them even claim that they are doing so with Godly virtue.
How is this possible? The only answer is fear. All the rhetoric about being fed up with politics as usual and the need for conservative Supreme Court justices is just a smoke screen for the deeper issue of mind-numbing terror.
What We Told the Kids
The kids rushed in to our bedroom this morning to find out who had won. My 11-year-old's first question was, "What do we do now?" In truth I'm not sure, but here's what I told them:
- We speak of Mr. Trump using only respectful language. We may not like the person, but we respect the office of the president of the United States.
- We keep doing what we've been doing — care for those forgotten — feed the hungry, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, visit the sick and imprisoned.
- We remember that just like us, Mr. Trump is made in the image and likeness of God, and God loves him just as much as God loves us.
- We pray. We pray for Mr. Trump, that God inspires him to bring forth the very best of his nature. We've seen his hatred and his ugliness toward others, but there is good in everyone. We pray for him to be filled with the spirit of wisdom.
Lord, have mercy.
Hopeless, Angry, Guilty
I feel hopeless, angry, and guilty.
Hopeless for obvious reasons. It's hard to seen ANYTHING positive at the moment. Tremendous damage will be done over the next 4 years — conceivably damage that can never be undone. Hard to face that with much optimism, although I wish I could.
To My Southern Baptist Brothers Who Voted For Trump
I've lived most of my life being told that my value as a woman is priceless, that my sexuality and my virginity is sacred, and that any misstep in that area is irreversible, with severe lifelong consequences, and I'd be accountable to my father, to my family, and to my church. I'd bring shame to my father, my family, my church. And there would consequences and discipline from my father, my family, and my church.
So what am I to think when my father, my family and my church have enthusiastically embraced a man who sexually assaults women, degrades women, calls them obscenities, calls them pigs, calls them nasty, ugly, and their vaginas his for the taking.
Who does my father, my family and my church answer to? Where are their consequences? Where are their threats of disaster for stepping out of line? Why aren't they cut off from their family? Why don't they receive formal church discipline?
I kept up my end of the bargain. I was different, made fun of, didn't fit in, dumped, and escaped sexual assault on more than one occasion. I kept up my end of the bargain when it wasn't popular, when it wasn't convenient, when it was hard and I didn't want to, and when people I loved called me a slut because they didn't even believe that I kept up my end.
I couldn't wear revealing clothes or date boys, because again, as a woman I WAS THAT PRECIOUS AND VALUABLE.
But then I watched my father, my family, and my church ENTHUSIASTICALLY say that, yes, there actually IS something more important than all that "God's gift" stuff — it's political power.
And now I wonder if any of it was ever true... whether they ever believed what they were saying or if it was just something to say to control their daughters, their women.
I do not regret for one second that I BELIEVED what I was taught — that I am special, a gift from God, and that my sexuality is sacred and priceless. But where I used to be confident that I had a strong community around me that affirmed that in me, I now feel utterly alone.
This is hypocrisy on an intimate level, and it has shattered one piece of my world view.
This Is Just the First Day
I have been through a number of traumatic events. Today feels like another. Perhaps you know the feeling. The weight of it hits you and you're left gasping for air. Then time passes, and work builds up, and comfort comes, and you forget. But in the middle of activity, while hitting an elevator button or upon seeing somber faces on the bus, or pouring coffee, you remember with a pang to the gut that you haven't healed yet and the original wound the weight left is still there. It's only been one day, but I can already tell that every day that follows for a long time is going to feel this way.
In the End, Love Will Trump Hate
My post on Facebook this morning:
"I am stunned that hate won, I am struggling to understand why hate won, and I am scared because hate won. But I believe in God and that because of Him, I believe that somehow in the end love will trump hate."
Let's Go 'Change the Damn World'
In this moment I am longing to feel despair…
I am longing to feel hopeless…
I am longing to feel something other than numb.
Respect the Grief
I have woken up feeling like this only one other time in my life.
What we experienced last night was a death of some things we hold very dear. It is not an exaggeration to call last night a funeral. This was a tragedy - as real as tragedy gets. Don't shy away from that. We didn't leave ourselves that option.
As we get up and get back to our lives, give yourself all the space and time you need to grieve. And respect the grieving needs of others. Healing will come, but it will be long and incomplete. Our best hope to heal well is to spend time seeing where we ourselves are hurt today.
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