Last night, I fell into bed exhausted. As I collapsed into a heap, I felt as though I’d expended every ounce of energy within. Honestly, I felt like a rolled-up tube of toothpaste, like all the stuff inside me had been squeezed out, even to the very last drop.
Do you remember learning that lesson as a kid—the proper toothpaste-tube-squeezing procedure? My parents taught it to me early on, “Don’t squeeze the tube in the middle, it’s a waste. Start at the bottom of the tube. Then roll it up every time the tube runs low. That way, by the end, you’ve squeezed out every drop of toothpaste you possibly could.”
Believe it or not, as I was falling asleep last night I felt an analogy coming on and honestly, it kind of cheered me up. It encouraged me. I thought to myself, ‘Maybe living the Christian life is a little bit like using up a tube of toothpaste. By the time you’ve lived it, every single drop of life within you has been used up . . . in a good way.’
4:6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
These words were the ones penned by the Apostle Paul in his 2nd letter to Timothy. What’s amazing to me about this portion of Scripture is that Paul knew the end was near. He knew nearly all the toothpaste was gone. And he was proud of that. He had run a good race, the race he was meant to run.
Can you say the same? When you come to the end of your days, will people say of you that you spent all your energy making the world a better place? Did you give all you could? Love all you could? Share all you could? In other words, did you give of yourself until the very last drop of goodness within you had been squeezed out and used up for the building of God’s kingdom?
If you can say, “Yes,” to all the above, then good for you. I know it’s something I aspire to do, live every day to the fullest, even if it means that sometimes I fall into bed exhausted and spent. There’s something nice about knowing I didn’t waste my day. In other words, I didn’t squeeze out a sloppy mess that left something inside of me wasted.
When God’s Spirit lives in us, we have everything we need for life and godliness. All the toothpaste is there. So, don’t be afraid to pour out your life for Jesus. Let every breath within you be expelled in sharing the life-giving, life-changing Word of Christ. Then when you come to the end of your days, you’ll know you spent every amount of yourself for the good of the cause—a pretty good thing to feel proud of, if you ask me. Even if it does leave you feeling a little bit exhausted.
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.
I don’t know about you, but on a Super Bowl Sunday, I want to read a post about the Hall of Fame. Well, I hope I don’t disappoint, but I’m talking about a Hall of Fame greater than any sports one. I’m talking about the Hall of Fames of all Hall of Fames, the one in the Bible.
Now, before you close this post and shut me down, hear me out. Of all the places in the Bible I most went to when I was struggling with depression, or anxiety or just bipolar, in general, it was this chapter in the Bible, Hebrews 11. Why? Because I could relate to the people who were in this Hall of Fame.
See, I’m not much of a sports fanatic and admittedly, if you asked me to name someone who’s been inducted into any sports hall of fame, I’d be hard pressed to come up with even one name.
But when it comes to the Hall of Fame in the Bible, I know their stories well. I bet you do to:
There’s Abel, who got killed by his brother Cain. Nice happy ending there, right?
There’s Noah who was ridiculed by everyone around him when he built a boat in the middle of nowhere . . . as in nowhere close to an open body of water.
There’s Abraham who lived in a tent. Not a house, a tent. If you’ve ever been camping, tent dwelling isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Hebrews 11:13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised, they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance.
Shall I go on?
There’s Moses who dragged a bunch of whiny, bratty might-as-well-have-been children around with him for 40 plus years.
How about Daniel who got thrown into a den full of beasts with particularly sharp teeth?
Or David who waited around fifteen years to claim a throne that was rightfully his whilst being chased around the countryside by a madman worried about job security.
And what about the New Testament Believers?
Peter who was crucified upside down.
Paul who was likely beheaded by the Romans.
Why, am I naming these sad, sad people and their incredibly sad, sad stories. Because it helps me to stop feeling sorry for myself. Or, in the very least, it helps me to know that I’m not alone. Not alone in my struggles. Not alone in my suffering. Not alone in my faith.
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.
It’s about faith, people. And if we had in our grasp what we hope for, it wouldn’t be called faith. See, faith is what got me through the hard times. It’s what I still cling to now when I wish I could shed this life for a happy-tent-free-dwelling-one. A life worth waiting for.
So, don’t give up. Don’t get discouraged. And don’t feel sorry for yourself. Most of all, know that you’re not alone. Read through Hebrews 11 and see if it doesn’t cheer you up just a little bit. And wait for the day when your name will be included with those great Hall of Famers who have gone before you. It’s a story with a happy ending worth waiting for—better than any Super Bowl commercial, no matter how much the hype.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about the Christian life and what it means to keep in step with the Spirit of God. Here are some of my thoughts:
Galatians 5:25 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passion and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
In my faith-life I sometimes feel like it’s all about extremes. For example, when it comes to living the Christian Life, it’s all about me or God. Either I’m doing all the work in becoming more the person he wants me to be or he is. But, as I’ve reflected on the last forty-two years of my life, I’ve begun to realize it’s not a “me or him” thing. It’s really a matter of “us.”
I grew up Lutheran and one of the things I appreciate most about the Lutheran church is the emphasis on salvation by grace and not through works. In other words, I can’t save myself, nor should I try to. I can’t get to God on my own. Rather, God brought me back to himself through Jesus Christ.
But, and here’s the big one, I do have some responsibility in the Christian life—not to put out the Spirit’s fire, his work in my life. See, I do believe it’s possible to hamper the Spirit’s power by not falling in step with how he’s leading me.
Living the Christian life on my own would be impossible, there’s no two ways about that. But because I have the power to succeed through the Spirit, the one Christ sent when he left this earth, I have no excuses. I can’t live life for myself anymore, nor should I want to.
It’s not about me or God, him or me. It’s about us working together in harmony as he makes me more and more the person he wants me to be. And here’s the deal, I can either conform to those changes or I can resist them.
Galatians 5:25 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
If I’m truly keeping in step with the Spirit, then the above qualities and traits should be flowing out of me.
Are they flowing out of you? If not, you might want to take some time and reflect on if you are keeping in step with the Spirit of God. If you’re not, what’s the point of being a Christian? Being saved is the beginning-not the beginning, middle and end of the Christian Life. Remember that truth and keep in step with the Spirit not just today, but always.
Galatians 5:25 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passion and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
I’m mad tonight. Mad because you’re all making me stay up late when all I want to do is go to sleep. But here’s the deal, I can’t and here’s why, because you are all behaving badly, very very badly. I don’t care what side you’re on, you’re all being like petulant children who don’t get their way or do get their way and then rub it in everyone else's face.
See, I was going to write an encouraging blog this week, a blog about peace and love, and brotherhood and friendship. But not tonight. Tonight I’m just mad.
When I wrote the entry for Not My President, I didn’t think I’d go down this road again. I didn’t want to. I hate getting into politics. I hate talking politics. I hate even being political. But here’s what I don’t hate, when people get along and are nice to one another.
All right, now that my blood has cooled down a degree or two, here are some thoughts:
A few weeks ago or so, my husband and I were in a pseudo-disagreement. He has had a weight problem his entire life. As his wife of nearly fourteen years, I’ve been along for what has not always been such a fun ride. We’ve tried several diets and exercise programs, all of which have required, at one time or another, me to change my habits too—my cooking habits, my eating habits, my grocery shopping habits. I’ll just be honest. It hasn’t always been fun, but I want to be supportive and I want him to lose the weight.
So that night when we were arguing over how I could or could not be supportive of him, or what I should or should not be bringing into the kitchen, he looked at me and calmly said, “Look we both want the same thing. I don’t know why we’re fighting about this. We both want to be healthy for ourselves and for our family.” And the light bulb went on.
He was right. We do both want the same thing, a healthy family. We may have different opinions about how to get there, but in the end there’s a better way to reach our goal than to sit there and bicker with one another.
I’m taking a master’s class on collaboration in the world of education but there are some good lessons I’m learning from it. In the book collaboration is defined this way:
A style for direct interaction between at least two coequal parties voluntarily engaged in shared decision making as they work toward a common goal. (And yes, I felt boldface type was required there.)
But you know what you need to have to reach that level of adulthood? First, you need to grow up and realize that your side is not the only side that’s right all the time. Thinking your views, your ideals, your opinions are the only ones that matter is a completely shallow and selfish way to live.
You really want to make America great or great again? Then put down the sand and stop throwing it at one another. Stop acting like bratty children. And if you’re not going to do it for each other or our country, then do it for me, because I’m tired and I want to get some sleep.
I’m just going to put this out there. I have gained some weight. Admittedly, not a huge amount but enough that I notice the extra lumps and bumps, the less give in my pants, the tighter fit around my derriere. It’s the kind of weight that leaves me wearing sweat pants more frequently than I ought.
So yea, it hasn’t been a lot of fun. Actually, it’s been kind of depressing. And when I’m depressed, I go into my not so favorite mode: self-loathing.
Wikipedia describes self-loathing this way: Self-hatred (also called self-loathing) refers to an extreme dislike or hatred of oneself, or being angry at or even prejudiced against oneself.
Though Wikipedia isn’t the most reliable of sites it’s accurate as far as how I’m feeling about myself these days—extremely disliking myself, being angry, even prejudiced against myself.
Self-loathing is nothing new for me. In the past, it’s been something I’ve excelled in. Back in the day, pre-diagnosis, it manifested itself in many ways. One of my least favorite phrases repeatedly banging out in my head? “You’re so stupid. You’re so stupid. You’re so stupid.”
The thing is, self-loathing has never done me any good. It’s certainly not helping me now. It’s not making me eat healthier. It’s not improving my outlook on life, and it’s definitely not making my pants fit better. It’s just weighing me down—more than the extra pounds, really.
2 Corinthians 7:10 says, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”
The thing is when I’m practicing self-loathing I’m not practicing godly sorrow, because, you see, godly sorrow leaves no regret. No regret over that extra piece of chocolate cake, or that extra helping of chips, or forgetting to work out today. It’s not that I don’t need to learn self-control, it’s that I need to learn to stop hating every bad decision I make and, in the end, hate myself.
Godly sorrow leads to repentance with no regret.
God doesn’t loathe me. He doesn’t loathe every bad decision I make. He loves me. So me loathing myself isn’t healthy, it isn’t true, and it isn’t right.
My grandpa used to play a “game” with me called, Stop Hitting Yourself. In the game, he would take my hands in his, make fists out of them, and pretend to hit me, all the while saying, “Stop hitting yourself. Stop hitting yourself. Why are you hitting yourself?” Though I hated the game, nevertheless there’s a good lesson hidden in it. I need to stop hitting myself.
Are you practicing some downright mean self-loathing? Stop it. Stop it. It’s not doing you any good. In fact, if you’re anything like me it’s only making everything worse.
If you’ve got some things to fix, things to get right, then get before God and start fixing them. But get with God first, because part of turning things around is getting power from the only Source who can truly fix things, truly redeem things, Jesus Christ.
And while you’re at it, stop loathing yourself, stop playing the hitting yourself game. Remember that God certainly doesn’t loathe you. He loves you. Find the truth and beauty in that statement and live in faith, not in fear.
Creativity usually strikes me on the weekend, but it’s 8:00 pm on a Wednesday, and I’m feeling particularly inspired. I’ve been watching a new show, This is Us, which airs on NBC. It’s an inventive new drama with many story lines taking place simultaneously. The central theme of the story is family, more specifically growing up—how what happens to us when we’re younger carries over into adulthood.
As a parent, it’s a theme that scares me to death—this idea that so much of what my children will become is happening right now. Right under our roof. Right under our very noses. It gives me pause. What we’re doing now as parents will stay with our kids for a lifetime.
The Father figure in the story, played by Milo Ventimiglia, is a character named Jack. Jack is an amazing dad; full of patience, kindness, rolling with the punches, loving his kids unconditionally. He’s the kind of parent you’d want to emulate, but he hasn’t always been that way.
There’s a pivotal scene during which Jack must decide what kind of parent he’s going to be. It’s kind of like a “come-to-Jesus moment” for him. I wish I could have found a clip for it, but I’ll do my best to describe it:
Jack has been getting home later and later, spending more time at the bar than he does with his family. One evening after he gets home, his wife, Rebecca, played by Mandy Moore, has this conversation with him.
Sitting next to him on the couch she asks “Hey, how do you think we’re doing as parents?” Before he can answer, she responds, “I think we’re at a 6. On a sliding scale of 1 through 10, I think we’re at a 6, and I think I’m being generous.”
She continues, “I’m trying really hard to get us to a 9, because they are cute kids and they deserve 9 parents.” She pauses, “The thing is I feel like I’m there. I feel like I’m operating at a 9, because I do individualized lunches, and I do individualized tuck-ins so nobody feels jipped.”
Finally, she concludes, “But when you’re home and you’re you, you’re way better than I am. You’re a 10 . . . when you’re you, Jack.”
She confronts him about the drinking and gives him kind of an ultimatum about it concluding with, “Fix it, because I’m done letting you lower our score.”
Have you ever thought about it that way—that you’re in it together when it comes to parenting? You’re in it together. Divorced. Married. Separated. And here’s the deal, the stakes are high. Very high. High enough to scare the living daylights out of you, at least they should be.
I don’t know what’s going to happen in the show. I know what I hope will happen—that Jack and Rebecca will make it through the rocky parts and parent together for as long as they have. They’re a couple I’m rooting for.
But I’m going to root for myself and my husband even more. I want our kids to look back with fond memories on their childhood. I want to be the kind of parents that they look up to, the kind that they want to emulate someday.
More importantly, I want to parent with the end in mind. I want to intentionally raise our kids to be the kind of people we want them to be: smart, capable, caring, responsible, resilient. You get the gist.
Who do you want your children to grow up to be? What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind? Parenting is serious business, and it should be. After all, children grow up to be adults. It’s up to us to determine what kind of adults they’re going to be.
The topic for this week’s blog came to me as I was listening this morning to the pastor share his thoughts about Joseph and how God “changed his story.”
If you’re not familiar with the story of Joseph let me give a summary. Joseph was engaged to Mary, a binding commitment stronger than the one we call engagement these days. When Joseph discovered that Mary was pregnant he made up his mind to “divorce her quietly,” so as not to publicly humiliate her.
After the decision was made, before he could set the wheels in motion, an angel came to him in a dream reassuring him that Mary had not been unfaithful. Rather, the infant growing in her womb was a gift of the Holy Spirit, Jesus, who would become the Savior for us all.
This morning when the pastor mentioned that Joseph seemingly had his own story, his own plan as to how things were “supposed to go,” it reminded me of me.
See I’m not sure how my family and I ended up in Ankeny, Iowa. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautiful and lovely community—a place where we’ll make many happy memories, I’m sure. But here’s the deal, this wasn’t how my story was supposed to play out.
You see, my husband and I are Nebraskans at heart. And I liked my life there. I liked where I worked out. We had our favorite restaurants, places to shop. Most of all, we called it home, and as a girl who doesn’t like change, I was content to spend my days in Gretna for many years to come.
So, when God interrupted and seemingly “changed my story,” it made me a little mad, a little bitter, a little, well, angry. What right did God have to change my story without consulting me?
I felt sad, alone, in limbo, so here’s what I decided to do, walk with him. Literally. This past week as I was struggling with these feelings of sadness, I went to my local Y and walked on a treadmill. My goal was to walk two miles each time and spend time in prayer—religious speak for just talking to him. As I walked I shared my confusion, frustration, my pain.
And I prayed for the change in my story, the one that was leaving me unsettled. Because the fact of the matter is that the change in my story wasn’t really a change to God. He knew where he was leading me all the time. The change was only news to me.
I know I’m at a crossroads and that I can either fight with God, or continue to walk with him—not just on a treadmill, but all the time, without props, or people, or places that are familiar but with him, the author of my story.
Change is hard. Accepting it is even harder. It seems fitting this time to end with someone else’s story whose world was rocked with change. The story of Mary, who was told she was to become pregnant with the greatest gift the world has ever known, Jesus.
When she received the news, Mary didn’t flinch, didn’t shrink back, didn’t complain. Here’s how she accepted the change given to her by an angel, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” Mary embraced the change in her story because she knew the author of her story. May we accept the twists and turns in our own lives taking a cue from her.
So my friends, walk with God this week and let him show you how the twists and turns in life can be beautiful. Most of all remember that the ending of our story will be very happy, very happy, indeed. Merry Christmas!
Last Friday, we hit the road to begin our new life in Ankeny. The boxes were all packed up, the house was empty, and I said goodbye before picking the kids up from their last day of school in Gretna. I was a bit sad, but not overwhelmed with it. It seemed strange to not feel more broken-hearted about leaving. Admittedly, while driving to pick my kids up, I wondered why I wasn’t feeling more sentimental about this move.
My husband and I pondered this feeling of being detached from the whole process of moving. It isn’t that I didn’t enjoy life in Gretna, or make great friends, or hold so many great things about this community close to my heart. But the older I get, the more I hold on loosely to the things of this world, the things that change and shift, including moving away from such a fantastic community.
On the night before we left, my daughter and I were reminiscing before bed time. I asked her to name some of her favorite memories of the past seven years. At first it was hard to recall particulars, but as we talked dozens upon dozens of wonderful and beautiful memories came flying back into our minds: including the butterfly cake we made for her birthday, meeting one of her best friends when she was only 1 ½, playing with her other best friend with Shopkins and Legos, and scootering around the neighborhood. Yes, there was a lot to be grateful for.
Those last days as we said good-bye to friends, family, and to all things familiar, my husband who had already been living in Iowa for the past several weeks, said something pretty profound, “You are going to go through a lot of endings this week, and I feel bad that I won’t be here to help you through them.” Then he went on to say, “But, next week you get to experience a lot of beginnings, so that’s something to look forward to.”
On the night we left for our new home, as I was driving down the interstate, I pondered what he had said. And for a few moments I began to feel uncomfortable, almost panicky. We’d said our goodbyes in Gretna. But we weren’t to Ankeny yet. We were in an in-between time, and it was strange, shaky, and scary ground to stand on.
Admittedly when we reached our new place, I felt like an alien in a strange land. This didn’t feel like home. But as we began to move our things in, I began to feel more and more comfortable
Those next several days as we settled in, we began to make new memories. For the first time, Jack shoveled a whole driveway by himself. My daughter, Katie, bravely walked over to our neighbors next door when she saw their little girl playing in the snow. Later that day, the same girl and her sister brought us beautiful Christmas cookies—a welcome treat. We even went out and bought a new kitchen table that was much needed. Already, we’re into beginnings and it feels nice.
So yes, good-byes can be hard and beginnings can be scary. But when you’re on the road in-between, there’s no need to panic, it doesn’t mean everything is ending, it just means you’re on your way to the new adventures God has planned for you. And that, my friends, is a pretty great place to be.
Happy Birthday to me. Happy Birthday to me. Happy Birthday, dear . . . me. Happy Birthday to me. Well, it’s that time of year again. Another few days and I’ll be one year older. I guess it’s inevitable that another birthday has rolled around, but it sure feels like they come a lot more often than I’d prefer.
I used to get so excited about my birthday. Weeks, even months before, I’d remind everyone of the special day that was coming up. Just in case they’d forgotten, I’d remind them that December 3rd was a very important day in the history of the world. Narcissistic, yes, but I couldn’t help it. I loved celebrating me.
Thanksgiving was a holiday I looked forward to almost as much as Christmas because celebrating Thanksgiving meant that my birthday was only a week or so away.
A much-anticipated ritual of turning another year older was partaking of the red velvet cake my mom made each year. Mind you, this was before red velvet cake was all the rage which makes us way cooler than anyone else. (Boy, I really am into myself today.)
This year, rather than giving out my usual present requests, I’m going to make a new request, a strange one you might think. I’m asking God to help me live a guilt-free life. Not too much to ask, right?
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m saying, “God help me to not feel guilty when I eat the entire cake by myself or steal my husband’s hidden chocolate stash.” No, I’m not asking for a get-out-of-jail free card. It’s not that. I don’t want God’s permission to do things that are clearly wrong and against his laws.
Here’s what I am looking for though: relief, peace, a sense that I am loved beyond imagination.
You see, I am a person guilty of always feeling, well, guilty. Guilt is not just an emotion for me. It’s a state of being—one that’s impossible for me to shrug off. And it’s only taken me forty-four years to figure out that I need to let go of the guilt that hunts me down, haunts me daily, and preoccupies my every waking moment.
As I’ve been contemplating all of this, I’ve mentally noted what types of situations or circumstances leave me feeling shamefully guilty. Some might seem funny but most of these events are things I truly obsess over every single day:
Top Ten Things I Feel Guilty About.
10. I haven’t spent enough time communing with God lately.
9. I’ve eaten way too many pieces of chocolate in one day.
8. I’ve eaten more ice cream than I should have. (9 and 8 are kind of hooked together since I usually top my ice cream with chocolate chips.)
7. I’ve messed up as a parent.
6. I’ve messed up as a friend.
5. In general I’ve just messed up. (5-7 go hand in hand. Basically, when I feel I’ve let someone down, I feel guilty.)
4. I spent too much money on purse number 115 of my all-time-purse collection. (My husband would agree with this one.)
3. I spent too much money at Target. Unfortunately, this makes me feel guilty but also good. Shopping at Target is a blast.
2. I didn’t walk my dog enough this week. (This one is pretty over the top. I mean it’s not like the dog is keeping track of the number of times I walk him in a week.)
And the Number One reason I feel guilty:
1. I feel guilty about always feeling so guilty.
Crazy stuff, right? At one point when I shared my struggles with someone, I made the passing comment that, more often than not, I’m motivated by guilt rather than grace.
This problem of guilt has consumed me for far too long. Really, since I was a child. Back then the only place I felt safe from guilt was in church, but the moment we were headed home from the service, guilt took me captive in its tyrannical grip. I couldn’t shake it off no matter how hard I tried.
Oftentimes, I felt like God was up in heaven shaking his fist at me for screwing up for the 1000th time in a day. Guilt left me cowering in the corner, hiding from the God I was sure was disappointed in me.
But deep down inside there was this place that knew God didn’t want me to carry that great burden of guilt around with me every waking moment of every single day. I mean that was the whole point of sending Jesus, right? Why would God have given his beloved Son for us if all he really meant was for us to wallow in our guilt and sin—sin that Jesus already paid for. Jesus came to set us free. Remember when he said that?
Luke 8:31-32 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Jesus came to set us free.
So what’s the cure for guilt? I think the answer is clear. It’s love. Pure and simple, love. A love that is higher than the heavens are above the earth. A love that is deep and wide—deeper than any guilt I feel, wider than my uncomprehending mind can wrap itself around. That’s what I want to be motivated by. Love, not guilt. Grace, not guilt.
I know I’m not quite there, but in this my 44th year on this planet, I’m asking God to set me free from guilt so that I can run in the path of his commands. Here’s to another year of learning to live in God’s grace. Happy Birthday to me!
There are a few things in the world that I don’t like to talk about. One of them is politics. I have my opinions, ideals, beliefs, but to throw them out to people who don’t want to hear what I have to say, let’s just say I don’t like to go there.
I’ll tell people I’m mentally ill, or that I’m on medications for bipolar, or that I considered committing suicide numerous times before I was diagnosed. Those are hard topics to bring up, but they’re nowhere near the panic I feel when I think about speaking my mind about American Politics. Especially in this time when our country is deeply-divided over who our president-elect is, Donald Trump.
I can’t say I particularly like Donald. In fact, like would be a word too strong to use. I really don’t care for the way he talks, or the manner in which he conducts himself. I think he has a bad temper. He’s egotistical, and he’s not a role model I want my children to aspire to be.
Back in the day, nearly a year before the election, I thought it was a joke that he was running. I never figured he’d make it past the primaries, let alone become the president-elect.
The night of the election, I turned off the television as I saw the inevitable, the unthinkable unfolding. Donald Trump would be elected as our forty-fifth president.
I love the office of the president. I have an ambition to read a biography about every president who’s ever served our country. When I was teaching in a multi-grade classroom, I started writing jingles about the presidents so that my students could learn the order and their importance in the roles they carried out. The first, ah, not my best, but it went something like this:
George Washington was number one.
In the Revolutionary War he carried his gun.
He loved animals. He had pets.
He even brushed his horses sets. . . of teeth that is.
Here’s the one I wrote for our third president. (I was particularly proud of this one.):
Thomas Jefferson was number three.
He founded Virginia University.
His home was called Monticello.
He invented a folding ladder; he was quite the fellow.
I worked hard to complete those jingles. In fact, I made it all the way up to Ronald Reagan.
Ronald Reagan #40 had been famous in Hollywood
But at age 70 as our president, would he be any good?
He worked to end the Cold War with our Soviet enemy.
“We resolve to build less weapons,” became our shared treaty.
No masterpieces, but you get the idea. The office of the president is one I greatly admire and hold in high esteem.
So, you’ll have to forgive me but I have a really hard time with people saying that the president elect is “Not their president.” I beg to differ, but he is, in fact, our president- elect. He is because we live in a democracy, and as it is often said after shocking events like these unfold, the people have spoken.
Throughout the campaign, there was one simple prayer that I prayed most fervently. It wasn’t even my own, but rather one I “borrowed” from the second president who served our country, John Adams. In a letter that he wrote to his wife on his second night in the White House, this was the blessing he prayed and beseeched God for:
“Before I end my letter, I pray Heaven to bestow the best of Blessings on this House and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise Men ever rule under this roof.”
And now with this—the election of a man I don’t want as my president I wonder, what was God thinking? Then I remember, God is not into politics. He’s not a Republican. He’s not a Democrat. As Jesus once said, “God’s Kingdom is not of this world.” But God is into us and, as the true King of all believers, God works everything together for good to those that love him.
America is not a monarchy. It is not King Trump who we will be bowing down to. If you don’t like him, fine, but don’t lie down on the train tracks and give up your rights to make a difference in the circle or sphere of influence that God has given you.
Our democracy was never meant to be about one person. Yes, the President is there to work on behalf of the people. But we the people of this great nation are the ones who make a difference in the day-to-day operations of this land. We are this country’s citizens and as such, we must work for the common good of all people.
So in the next four years, rather than holding your nose and barely tolerating the person who is, “Not your president,” work to make lasting changes at your level of citizenship. Visit a nursing home. Donate to your local food bank. Hold your leaders accountable. Be an advocate for someone who can’t be it for themselves. Give. Love. Work. Work to make and keep our country one of the greatest civilizations the world has ever known. And when that four years rolls around, vote. Even if you think both candidates stink, pray for wisdom and vote.
Finally, let God be God. Proverbs states that, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord: he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.” Remember whose Kingdom we truly belong to and whose reign will last forever. Remember which land we are truly citizens of and trust God.
God is in control. God is your President. He is your King and he, the honest and wisest of all rulers is everywhere, even in the White House. Even if we don’t believe it. So, swallow your guile and bitterness and trust the Ruler of all to make everything all right in the end. Because he will.
1 Peter 2:16-17 Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil: live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.