I used to write when I needed to find my best self.
I would erase my first and most visceral reaction, then by the third or fourth draft, I would find my true voice: one that found some tiny diamond of redemption and sought to magnify it, in hopes of inspiring others to do the same. I engaged and endured the many ensuing (frustrating) conversations, because I believed that in doing so, in some small way, I might contribute to making the world a better place.
Then came this election season. It finally defeated me. I saw friends fall deeper into blind acquiescence. I grew weary of the arguments that never did seem to change any minds. I had to step away.
“Love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
Hatred, violent rhetoric, promises of war crimes, intolerance, insults, dishonesty, womanizing, racism, sexual assault.
Close enough, so long as there’s an (R) by his name.
I am reminded of the painful process I undertook years ago of deconstructing my faith and political affiliation. I am once again thankful for Randy Draughon and Midtown Fellowship in Nashville, Tennessee, who walked me through the process of aiming my disillusionment in the right direction.
On one hand, I knew that I could no longer associate with a religious sect that was increasingly falling for the hateful and conspiracy-theory-driven likes of Fox News and Breitbart. I could see first-hand that racism was still prevalent in my country, and I could not stand with a political party that waved it off, calling it an overreaction. I won’t go so far as to say I foresaw a Trump presidency – even this seemed beyond the pale – but I saw the trend moving away from reasoned, traditional conservatism and towards froth-mouthed fear-pandering.
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear”
“What if some of the homeless children running from war-torn Syria are secretly terrorists? We don’t know!!?”
On the other hand, there was Christ himself. I thought my disillusionment extended all the way to the top. But conversations with Randy allowed me some semblance of peace as I scrubbed off all the red graffiti from my Jesus-idol and began to learn again who Christ really was.
I could be a Christian without being a Republican. They never taught me that in Sunday School. I was free.
Meanwhile, I watched friends who grew up in similar situations begin to have the same realizations. Some of them had a Randy in their life. Some did not. Many have abandoned their faith completely.
I have been disabused of the notion that anything that I can say here will make a political difference. I am incredibly disheartened today. But I am eternally grateful that I had someone to help hold my shaking hands as I ripped apart my false God of the White Evangelical Republican Church, to embrace me as I wept over the collapse of a faulty and dangerous internal structure I had once believed to be certain and right and good, and to walk with me as I took my first steps down a path lined with doubts and uncertainty.
I can’t un-elect Donald Trump. I can’t even find a silver lining for the decision my country has made. I don’t know how to clean this mess up. I’m heartsick, heartbroken, and ashamed.
But I did find that tiny diamond of redemption, after all. I can offer to be a Randy to others who have not yet separated Christ from those who would invoke his name only insofar as it falls in line with a political party. I will hold your hand, I will embrace you as you weep, I will walk down that path with you for as long as you need.
It’s all I’ve got.