Community in a Political Season

Right now is a challenging time to relate to other people, in my opinion. I’ll be talking to someone at church or work or school, and the conversation will turn in the slightest direction where it may head toward politics, and I’ll feel it. Not every time or every person, but you know it when it is coming. There is a shift in the air. A tension and what feels like an underlying anger. Suddenly where our conversation was light and full of life, it becomes something different. And it will happen. The person will lean in, speak quietly, and state some joke, position or assumption about politics, confident that I share their fears and frustrations.

And the truth is, I don’t. I’ll say something noncommittal, change the subject. Try to return the conversation to the million things we agree upon. But the tension remains. The person I am talking to may have expected me to join in or pile on, but I didn’t, and it has thrown them. My attempt to change the conversation has surprised them. And they’ll soon walk away.

And there it is – disunity.


I feel outside. Other. Less than. Because I don’t share a political leaning – I am no longer in community like I would be if I did.

And that’s been a hard feeling to live with this political season. I’m not sure why my friends walk away, maybe they feel exposed or embarrassed? Maybe they are questioning me? I’m not sure. But it happens on both sides of the aisle.

So I don’t speak up about politics even though I have a point of view. Because over and over this election, I have heard friends throw down the gauntlet and say something like “In this election, you can’t be a Christian and vote ________________” or, “In this election, you can’t be a woman and vote _______________.”

And I disagree.

I am a Christian, and a woman, and I do approach the world with a Biblical worldview, and I am very engaged with politics, but I still contend that this election isn’t as simple as some people make it. This election is hard and complicated and I don’t see a savior anywhere in our political arena worthy of saying, “If you don’t vote for this person – you aren’t a true follower of Christ or a real woman.”

I don’t feel that either party represents me as a Christian or as a woman perfectly, so I can understand the rationalization for compromising to vote for either one of our less-than-ideal choices this election. Because of this, you are my brother and my sister if you are the bluest of blues or the reddest of reds. No candidate and no party platform fully encapsulates my views just as no political division overcomes our commands to love one another and live in unity.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit-just as you were called to one hope when you were called- one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Eph 4:2-6

I don’t think a political stance is worthy of disunity. In fact, I’m pretty sure that the disunity is an indicator that our political views trump our Kingdom view. Because our commands to love each other and respect the authority under which we are governed were given by men living in an actual police state. We think we have it bad – our environment is a carnival compared to the Roman occupation under which Jesus was crucified. And yet Jesus said to be known by our love and to render unto Caesar and Paul said to live in unity. A presidential race in the US in 2012 is not a worthy reason for Christians to walk away from one another or grow cold toward each other. After the election of President Obama in 2008, someone wrote on Facebook “To give him the power to destroy us is just as dangerous as to give him the power to save us” and I wholeheartedly agreed with that and add Romney’s name to it as well. There is no perfect candidate in this election, and there is no perfectly evil candidate – neither can save or condemn.

Jesus saves. Jesus brings peace. Jesus heals. Jesus provides. Because of Jesus, we live and breathe and have our being (Acts 17:28).

So can we please quit walking away from each other and growing cold toward each other for something so temporal? Who cares if others don’t share our view? Walking away and growing cold makes us small – and we are not small. We are children of Jesus, brothers and sisters who will live together forever in the land of our King, and the things which unify us are a million times stronger than the things which divide us. The enemy divides – Jesus unifies. Let’s join him in that.

Jesus, help us. We deeply desire to live righteous lives, and your command to live in the world but not of it is such a hard command to follow. This world seems all-encompassing and confusing. Please help us. We want to be light – please show us how to do that. It is hard when our self-interest and opinions and “rights” crowd into our perspective. Please help us, convict us and lead us. Please unleash your Holy Spirit to speak truth to us and use us for Your great glory to share truth with others. Please forgive us where we get it wrong. Please help us remove the barriers and cross the divide in relationships grown cold. Please unify your church. Please help us to love. We know you are in control – that you place kings in places of authority and remove them when their time is up. We trust you. Please protect, guide and lead those who lead us. We are in great need of you individually, in our churches and communities, and nationally. You are the source of all that is good in our world, and we need more of you everyday.

*By the way – I’m not equating passion with disunity. I have a friend who is DEEPLY passionate about one political leaning – but I have seen her do this well as she maintains friendships despite deep fundamental disagreements on policy. So the “I’m just passionate” argument doesn’t really hold water with me, because I promise you there are passionate people who are fighting to remain unified despite their passions. It may not be easy, but it is right and worth struggling for.

A Semi-Silent Pause

For the month of February, I have severely reduced my media intake by cutting out TV, Facebook, and Twitter and reducing internet, music, and iPhone ap use (For those of your familiar with 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, I’m doing media month along with Justin, my sister, and some friends). It has been an amazing time of the Lord speaking and revealing Himself, and although I feel a little disconnected from people, I have also made some incredible connections.

For example, tonight I spoke on the phone with a woman from Indiana who is helping start a school in Ethiopia, and who the Lord allowed me to “meet” through my blog. Incredible. I have a feeling as this relationship continues to develop, I’ll be blogging about it (A chance to help love, support and encourage little school kids in Ethiopia? I know about 87% of you will be ALL over it with me). That’s pretty amazing, right?

I’ve found that although I can’t FB stalk people I love – I can pray for them and that helps me feel connected. A friend going through an insanely difficult trial, friends experiencing great difficulty with one of their children, friends adopting from China this week, and another friend adopting a sweet baby girl domestically that was fraught with uncertainty until the Lord moved and opened doors – all chances for me to join with these people in prayer. I’ve tried to pray for friends when they come to my mind and heart and I miss them, instead of logging on a leaving them a wall post, like I would have done pre-media month. I will confess that I have “cheated” a few times and logged on because I didn’t realize how many people I only communicate with through Facebook, even to the point that I don’t have their phone number and email in my contacts. I must get better at transitioning Facebook friends to real friends. Some of you may start getting random phone calls from me in an effort to do that. 🙂

During this month I’ve read so much and studied and gotten clarity on some things, and dreamed of big God things and started to pray for the Lord to do more through me than I could do on my own without Him. I’ve said before that the Lord works in my life by stringing together little threads and this past month has felt more like three months as dozens and dozens of threads have come together to show me that He is working out something amazing just under the surface of my seemingly mundane life.

I’m telling you – the men in the Bible who advocated fasts weren’t just trying to make us miserable – something special happens when we do with less to leave room for God to speak. He is definitely speaking.

And not only to me – He’s speaking to my kids (who have watched a tiny fraction of TV this month compared to “normal”). So they’re playing more and asking more questions and having more fun, really. And I, not being as distracted, am listening to their questions and responding. I have loved it. Grace is really processing the idea of Jesus (she’s like me – such a little processor) and she’s trying to figure Him out. These are a few of the hilarious things she’s said this month:

“Mommy – if Jesus is in my heart but He tries to come out, will he break my throat?”

“Mommy – how can Jesus be in your heart and my heart at the same time?”

“Mommy – how can we hear Jesus talk because He is WAY down in our hearts and our ears are up here?”

Today, she wanted me to show her pictures of our blood and our hearts from my anatomy textbook because we’ve been talking about blood after Bekah cut her leg. I’m the kind of mom who thinks that is fun – so I broke out my book and gave them both a little anatomy lesson. So Grace is looking at a picture of the heart, and she says, “OK, then where is Jesus in this picture?” and looked up at me with those big blue eyes.

“Uhhh. Well honey that’s hard to explain… Anybody hungry?”

Yep – it’s pretty much Stump the Mommy all day everyday at our house. But it’s sweet too. It reminds me that we accept Jesus at the level we understand. She doesn’t have to understand all of this (How can she? God is so big none of us fully can). But in her own little way, she trusts. She believes. She loves Jesus. It makes me so happy and hopeful for her.

It also makes me want to hold her and tell her that I don’t understand all of this God stuff either, sweet girl, but we’ll learn together. I don’t understand what God will do with us in the future, but I know He’s good. I don’t understand how my heart for kids and my heart for Africa and our heart for the Lord all will come together – but I feel assured that they will.

All of this stuff makes me excited for the future. It makes my hope rise. I’m excited to see all of the threads come together into a picture when He allows it. I just hope that after this month, as we add media back into our lives, that we will remember to leave time for silence, for learning, for listening to the Lord and our kids, for prayer, for thinking, and for studying. I don’t want the noise of our world to drown out what really matters.

Because although I do love TV (Downton Abbey, anyone?) and Twitter and Facebook, it’s all so loud and so predominately silly. There are redemptive aspects, of course, but it’s easy for me to allow it to suck away hours and hours and hours in insignificance. And I think that’s the lesson of this month. There are important eternal things I can do with my time if I’ll allow them in. Looking into my kids’ eyes and discussing anything – that’s big. Praying through something hard and interceding with passion – that’s real. Reading eternal truths and attempting to apply them – that can change me.

So I think that’s the lesson of the silent pause I’ve been on in February (and it’s only been about half-silent really – imagine if I was more disciplined to cut out all media!) If any of you want to join us in the rest of our 7 experiments, send me a note. Month one has been fun and it’s been great doing them together to encourage as we go.