Well, it’s over. I have exercised my right and my privilege to cast my ballot for the next President of the United States, as well as those running for state and local offices. But truthfully, as I stepped away from the poll, I was left with an ugly feeling.
As I walked back to my car, amid those campaigning for each party, I couldn’t help but feel divided. In a country that claims the word “United” in its title, I feel like we have missed the mark.
For the past twelve months, political rhetoric has consumed our airwaves and in an unprecedented display of emotion, we have proudly voiced our opinion despite the swath of destruction in our wake. We’ve exchanged harsh words, burned bridges, and destroyed friendships all in the name of this “freedom” to vote and our “right” to speak freely, which makes me wonder if we really counted the cost.
A government by the people and for the people is something I don’t think we, as Americans, really understand—a blessing that we have long taken for granted and made into some kind of twisted reality show or barbaric sporting event that feeds our own agenda and desire to be entertained rather than the common good of a united people.
And in less than 96 hours I wonder if this entire ugly process will have been worth it?
Winners and Losers
On Tuesday, someone will be declared a winner and someone will be declared a loser. But I’m afraid we’ve been duped into believing that we live in a world where winners and losers are determined by competition, popularity, and position when in reality, winners and losers are much more difficult to quantify. Regardless of who wins on Tuesday, we lost this election, America.
And here’s why:
Are you prepared to welcome, with joy, Donald Trump as the next President of the United States?
Are you prepared to welcome, with joy, Hillary Clinton as the next President of the United States?
It’s statistically likely that half of you will cringe at one of those two questions—possibly both—and that saddens me. Not because of either of those two individuals, but because we, as a people, have misplaced our hope. We choose fear and call it wisdom, we live in a constant state of unrest yet expect peace, and we think better legislation will somehow make our lives better.
Our inability to joyfully engage in this process proves that we’ve given our hearts to lesser things than they were intended for, and in turn, our hearts have begun to shrink to the size our own agenda. As a result, our joy has become circumstantial, fear has become a staple, and peace is, at best, fleeting.
In winning, we have ultimately lost.
Rekindling Our Joy and Redirecting Our Hope
Now lest you think I’ve grown hopeless and despondent, think again. Truthfully, I’m left challenged and encouraged.
Because sometimes it takes the pain of losing to force us to that point to see clearly. In losing, we’re finally broken enough to pay attention. As paradoxical as it might seem, humility has a dynamic way of changing our perspective. And it’s only when we’re willing to shift our perspective that we’re able to uncover truth.
The Apostle Paul, one of the most prolific authors in history, said that we should, “Be joyful always”. Curiously, there were no caveats or qualifiers to his words. He really intended for his readers to believe his encouragement and actually put it into practice by how they lived.
And while so many of us, especially the evangelical type, can quote those words, we’ve forgotten how to live them. Honestly, that’s why the offer of Christianity seems uninviting to those who stand on the sidelines and stare at our joyless faces as politics have become our sort-of faux savior.
A few months back, when I made the comment that I was done with politics, I came to that decision specifically because I wasn’t choosing joy. In order for me to grow beyond that raw emotion, I had to become honest with myself about the gap between my convictions and how I was actually living.
If this election has done anything for me, it has truly caused me to take an assessment of my heart, where I place my hope, and where I find my joy. My encouragement to you is that you would do the same.
Regardless of who wins the election on Tuesday, please know that there’s no wisdom in fear, there’s no love in hate, and there’s no peace in unrest. Period. Your joy shouldn’t be based on the outcome of the events, but in the moment itself—simply because it’s there for you to choose. That’s the beautiful thing about joy, it’s yours—if you choose it.
In doing so, you’ll become a welcome invitation for others who are grasping at the air, longing for hope, yet unable to find it in the failed promises of a Presidential candidate or government policies.
In losing, may we learn how to win.