The Morning After

We are not a Christian nation, but we sure like to say we are.

Somehow, so many people in our country have confused Christianity with Republicanism.

Somehow, the words of Jesus about how we treat our neighbor have translated as the least important words to follow, even though He sort of said they’re a big deal–one of the biggest deals.

Somehow, the message of grace comes after the message of repentance when we talk to people, even though Jesus always showed grace first.

This morning, I woke up with a heavy heart and a sense of dread.  I’m not a political guru.  Like, at all.  I don’t closely follow most of the issues or most of the stances.  I find overwhelming all of the moving parts of how the country runs, the competing values and interests and needs and the right way to allocate the limited resources, and all of the nonsense that gets added to bills and measures in order to pass them.  There is a stunning lack of clarity about how things get done, and I know I’m not the only one who feels that way.  But I’ve heard some the things that Donald Trump has said, and I just don’t understand how America got here.

Our Father God has a plan for all of this.  He is sovereign over all and that brings me comfort.  But the biggest response to this, as a Christian, needs to be repentance.  We have work to do, sisters and brothers in Christ.  We, the church, need to do better.

If you are a Christian, and you voted for Donald Trump, I would like answers.  Why did you vote for him? How are none of these things priorities?  How will you respond?

When you see you black and brown neighbors and friends, after they are stopped and frisked, after they are the victims of police brutality that is endorsed by the President of your nation, how will you look them in the eye and tell them that you loved them as yourself?

When you see the millions–MILLIONS—of women who came forward and shared their sexual assault stories after Donald Trump bragged about his own compulsion to grab women, and then pooh-poohed his comments as just locker room talk, how will you look them in the eye and tell them you seek justice for the oppressed?

When I first heard that audio of Trump, I was awake all night.  I lay in bed, reliving and re-experiencing multiple sexual assaults.  I wound up getting up and trying to write down all that I could remember just so that I could maybe get some sleep.  I was shocked by how much I remember, and I was also shocked by how much I can’t remember.  In case you’re wondering, I only ever tried to report one of these incidents, and I was not believed.  I am not the only woman for whom this is the case.  And that’s only counting the ‘big’ ones, and not the regular occurrences of men smacking my behind, grabbing onto me and refusing to let go, making vulgar comments, or otherwise making me feel like an object instead of like another human being.

When you talk to your daughters and your sisters, how will you explain how an overly qualified woman had a chance to be the first President of the United States—seriously, the best resume for the job that a person could have, ever—and the man without any experience was chosen instead?  (Note that this also happened after this same political party made it very clear that the future first black President was ‘unqualified’ because of his lack of resume.)  How will you look them in the eye and tell them that you love justice?

When you see your Muslim neighbors, how will you apologize for the fear that they feel?  How will you avoid oppressing the sojourners among us?  Remember that you know the heart of the sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.

When you see your brown friends, whose racial identity isn’t obvious, and as such experience the fear of getting pulled over by the police or questioned at an airport or otherwise harassed because of their lack of whiteness, how will you explain to them that it’s okay?  When you see people whose religion is different from yours being persecuted by authority figures solely because of their religion, how will you demonstrate the fruits of the Spirit?  Can you tell me how I explain to my eight year old daughter that, no, even if Donald Trump insisted he would build a wall to keep Mexicans out of the country, he will not be doing that?

When you see your LGBT neighbor, how will you look into their eye?  How much fear and dread will you see there?  How will you help to maintain the rights of the afflicted?

When you see a POW, or a disabled person, do you think the things that our future President said to and about them is kind and loving?

I just don’t understand what politics you, Christian Donald Trump voter, put before the well-being and safety of these, your neighbors, sisters, and brothers.  Please, explain it to me, because I want to understand. 

Do you really think that God is more concerned with fiscal policy and Supreme Court justices than how we treat our fellow citizens on Earth?

We Christians have work to do.  We need to repent and turn back to the God who loves everyone.  He doesn’t just love everyone in a general sense of the world, he loves every. individual. person.  He loves them right now, in who they are today.  He loves them even if they’re brown.  Even if they’re Muslim.  Even if they are unsure of their sexual or gender identity.  Even if they have hearts full of hate and vitriol.  God even loves you, Christian Donald Trump voter (and maybe I need to do better at remembering that myself, in my anger and hurt and confusion).

We Christians need to remember that the way out of the evil we see on earth isn’t through government mandates or political opinions.  It isn’t through legislating sexuality or women’s reproductive issues.  It isn’t through condemning people with different viewpoints than us.  We overcome the evil on earth by loving first.  By loving people in a radical, crazy way that Jesus loves us.

So, to my black, brown, LGBT, Muslim friends—I love you.  And I am here for you and I am sorry that hatred and fear of difference seems to have won out over justice.  Our home will always be safe for you, and we will do everything in our power to stand beside you and keep you safe.

To my Trump-voting friends—I love you.  And I am sorry for the anger in my heart towards you.  I hope to have conversations and understand and help work towards the change and the life that Jesus called us to.

So, please-contact me! Christian Donald Trump voters—please help me understand why and how you could have voted this way.  Because I can’t get there myself, and my heart is so sad today.  But I will listen and I will hear you and I will try to understand.  And if I can’t understand, I will love you anyway.

Christians, let’s love harder and better and more completely.  The only way, going forward, that I can see right now is to pray and to love and to love some more.  Every single person.

This Week, It Hurts

Most of the time, it doesn’t hurt.

It’s been four years, and the life we have here now is good.  Like, we are right where we are supposed to be, and knowing that and feeling that is so reassuring.

But this week, four years after we drove away, leaving still hurts.

This week, texting my best buddy from Chicago just doesn’t feel like enough.

This week, after the Cubs’ World Series win, I think about taking Hazel to her first ball game at Wrigley Field.

This week, wearing my I ❤ Chicago shirt, I noticed that I’ve washed it so many times that the heart has worn partially off, so it looks like a broken heart.

This week, as I made pizza for my kids to eat, I could almost smell the pizza place on our block where Kullervo and I ate so many dinners.  But I can’t quite remember it anymore.

Don’t get me wrong–Chicago wasn’t perfect. Finding a parking spot on (or near) our street was sometimes impossible and digging out of the snow in the winter was an enormous effort.

I became a stay at home mom in Chicago, and the transition from working to being home was really difficult.  Figuring out how to make friends when I didn’t have the daily convenience of adult conversation across the desk from me was like moving across the country partway through my freshman year of high school.  All the awkward.  All the insecurity.  And no idea how to start over.  Figuring out how to be at home with my kids and actually feel like I’d accomplished anything and also not resent my children was also difficult.

five

Living the dream in Chicago

But I made friends.  It was actually the first time in my life that I had adult friends who were not my coworkers—they were my friends because they wanted to be, not because they were stuck looking at my face all day.  We also learned how to be neighbors—what that could look like.  My kids would play outside in the afternoon, and eventually all the kids on the block would join.  It was the magical age before we were beholden to sports and activities every day, so our only constraints in the afternoons were dinner and bedtime.  And my neighbors were awesome.  There was so much laughter, so much annoyance, so much living life together while our kids grew up.  I was sure that we would all grow old and move to an old folks’ community where we’d sit out on our porches in the evening, drinking and complaining about our good-fer-nothin’ children who don’t come visit.

And then, in what seemed like it should be the middle of all the magic of living in Chicago, it ended.  Kullervo got a job offer in Baltimore.  We packed the house.  We said goodbye.  We drove away.  Kullervo drove our moving truck; I drove the minivan with the kids.  I am fairly certain I cried the entire drive.  We left on November 3; we arrived at our apartment November 5.

door

The door to our Baltimore apartment.

Oliver started school, but I had to push him onto the school bus every day; Hazel stayed home and fell into a deep depression (which is super sad on four year old Hazel).  I wasn’t much help for her—I was too busy being sad all the time myself.  We cried together.  We watched a lot of My Little Pony, and when I would turn it off, she would just sit on a chair and stare at the blank television.  I tried to unpack into our apartment, but I didn’t have the strength to tough it out.  We had no drawers in our tiny kitchen, which only showed how awful this new place was going to be, forever.

At the time, the only saving grace for Hazel and me were the deer.  Our apartment complex faced into the woods, and we had huge windows to look out and see all kinds of nature.  It was beautiful.  She was certain that they were actually reindeer, and not just any old reindeer, but Santa’s reindeer.

deer

The view from our apartment…

I couldn’t eat—my go-to unhealthy coping mechanism.  I joined a gym and made tentative steps towards familiarity and friendship.  We found a gymnastics place for Hazel to take a class.  We looked at every house on the market in our price range and out of it and fired multiple real estate agents for either insulting us or not getting us, until we found a woman who guided us to our neighborhood because we were looking to recreate that neighborhoody feel we were missing so much.  We bought a house, and then found out that we were pregnant (so maybe the three-bedroom was too small… too late.)

moving

Moving into our new home

Nowadays, I know that we are right where we need to be, and my life here has become so full—of good times, good memories, good people.  This is home, and I don’t want to leave—I cannot imagine starting over all over again, again.  We have a new magical existence we get to live in, and I would not change it or go back.

But this week… this week, I’m missing Chicago fiercely, and being here in Baltimore hurts like I left yesterday.