The campaign season was not difficult for me; the election was not difficult for me; this week did not begin as difficult for me; and all of a sudden I’m lost.
My family, introverted and a little grudgingly, participated in the Nashville women’s march a week ago. We all came away feeling hopeful and empowered and in this thing together. It was beyond amazing, even being in a crowd of thousands, which can be a very, very scary thing.
We don’t have cable, and I don’t really follow the news, but none of that mattered the first week that Trump was in office. I heard much and read more. Worrisome, sure; unexpected, no.
Then I received a personal call from a family member, essentially questioning my involvement in the march.
After all that’s happened this week? That’s the issue?
There was confusion as to whether or not I had been involved in the women’s march. Why? Because there were men in my photographs.
I have very bad verbal reaction time as it is. This time, I was floored.
But you know what’s worse? Yes, even worse than that single statement? This came from a good, kind, and intelligent man doing amazing things in his neck of the woods. He cares deeply about people. But he cares more about God and the Bible. He has beliefs that don’t so much override his love of humanity as shape it. He feels sorry for people he thinks, through a very particular lens, have done wrong. He feels he must help them, reach out to them. And now he was reaching out to me, explaining to me in the simplest of terms what he felt about a myriad of politically-related things and why. It’s so simple. The Bible says so right here.
And I am at a loss. I don’t know how to respond. I don’t know how to respond in love. Because it’s not that simple.
Normally I would back away, remain quiet (which is actually what I did). But I also don’t want my two daughters to see me afraid and subdued and cowering beneath, well, a man who knows better than me and has the ability to prove himself. I do not have his skills. We do not fight on the same level. I cannot fight on that level.
I know there are answers, probably in that very same Bible, but can I help but be afraid? Of it? Of my interpretation? Of my feelings?
At the beginning of our session retreat yesterday morning, we focused appropriately on Moses’ call. I had been thinking about the very same passage well before this morning. But honestly, trust and prayer seem like such pitiful answers. And yet, there is beauty and serenity and peace in that sense of calm. And isn’t that, at the end of the day, what I live and strive for?
So though I rarely pray publicly (sorry, Pastor Mike, I’ll work on it), I pray, right now, that I can remain vigilant but calm. And that in my own peace, others may find a reflection. And that those reflections ripple outward. I pray that my questions remain unanswered, if only to remind me that I am not in control.
See, you are not alone. Me, too.
– Justin Near, Ruling Elder