I spent today at Mount Vernon with my friend Sarah. We needed to get out of DC for a bit, and in a spurt of spontaneity decided to go to Mount Vernon instead of Arlington Cemetery as we had planned. I thought that escaping the city would mean that I could escape the fog that I’ve been moving in since the election, but even the beauty of the fall didn’t do it.
On Tuesday morning, I woke up at 3am. I had been looking forward to Election Day for weeks. My love (and/or slight obsession) for politics meant that I’d been preparing for this day for a long time, and I was confident about how the day would go. I was in line to vote at 6:45am and the moment that I was able to fill in the circle beside Hillary Clinton’s name was one of the proudest moments of my life. You see, I have loved Hillary for my whole life. I admire her strength, her willingness to keep going in times of struggle, that she owns up to mistakes and works her hardest to keep moving forward. I admire her (and yes, I do recognize that she is flawed and has made mistakes) and I was so excited to one day tell my children that I voted for our first female president and that I was proud of her.
I spent Tuesday night with DC friends who were as excited about the election as I was. We ate chili and talked about why this night was important to us. I don’t think that any of us thought that it would be a landslide, but we were excited and confident that we would be witnessing history.
We witnessed history on Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning, but it was not what we thought we would be watching. As the electoral college votes kept adding up, I found myself more and more in shock. I was shocked that I live in a country where over 49% of people could bring themselves to vote for a racist, sexist, misogynist.
I woke up Wednesday morning in a fog. I felt numb. What had we done? Our next president is a man who offended each and every one of my closest friends. He is a man who has bragged about sexually assaulting women. He is a man who wants to take away health insurance from those who need it. He is a man who has threatened to ban an entire group of religious people from our country. He is a man who is threatening to build an actual wall. He is a man who is endorsed by the KKK. He is a man who shows no compassion, no love, no grace. He is our next president.
Wednesday was a day of deep grief. This wasn’t because my team didn’t win. I could move past that. This was because I now live in a country where I am afraid for those I love. I am afraid for my LGBTQ friends. I am afraid for my friends who are people of color. I am afraid for my friends who are Muslim, Jewish, or anything other than Christian. I am afraid for the children that I love. I am afraid for all women.
Hillary’s concession speech was aired while I was eating breakfast with Tara and Emily. As we watched her speak, we all cried. Once again, I watched a poised, graceful, qualified woman give us a gift that we as a country did not deserve. I watched her tell little girls that they should never doubt that they are “valuable, and powerful, and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve” their own dreams, and I wept because we live in a country where we need that reminder. I wept because children are terrified of what they will face. I wept because every statement that Trump made has now been validated. And frankly, I wept because it feels like we have gone back in time to a place where the only people who matter are straight, white, Christian men.
We are a country that is divided. The lines are more visible than they’ve ever been. Of course, they have always been there. The blatant racism, sexism, xenophobia, and homophobia are NOT new. But we now have a president who validates all of those things. So today is not the day to call for unity. I refuse to accept these things. I refuse to move on, to squash my anger and my grief and pretend like nothing has happened. I cannot be true to my faith if I accept these things. I will not give Trump that satisfaction.
The funny thing about this week is that Sunday is still going to come. Sunday’s going to come and the Good News will be proclaimed, and at this point I’m giving thanks that I’m not the one who will have to stand up and proclaim it. But, I work with those who do. On Wednesday afternoon the director of NEXT Church, Jessica Tate, sent out an email to the Strategy Team members to ask what they are thinking about saying to their congregations or what they needed to hear from the church. I wasn’t going to respond as I was on a list of some of the most incredible preachers I’ve ever heard, but as the day went on, I found some words. And maybe someone else needs to hear the same words that I need to hear.
Hear that your value in the eyes of God has not changed.
Hear that your fear is valid and real.
Hear that you are loved.
Feel that you are loved.
Know that you are loved.
With the reassurance of God’s deep and unchanging love, go and be a loving presence in a country that is broken and divided, knowing that your vulnerability and authenticity will allow others to do the same.