After I voted in the election last month, I posted this on Facebook:

So we vote today and then we move onward and forward. Don’t let the choice of your neighbor or your coworker or your best friend change the way you view them. I’ve heard so often, “If you vote for _____, then I’ll really know what to think about you.” Believe today instead that everyone is making the wisest decision for themselves based on what they know and the experiences they have had that have shaped their beliefs. Believe instead that who your neighbor and your coworker and your best friend are to you on any other Tuesday is who they really are and the decision they make on the ballot is simply that – one decision. We are all doing the best we can with what we know and you are not better or smarter or more right for choosing a specific candidate. Don’t let today hold more weight than it needs to and don’t let today’s outcome drive you to despair. Today we vote and tomorrow we go on, continuing to live the way we have always been called – loving God and loving others and drawing people into community and life together.

I wrote it because of all the fearful rhetoric swirling around this election. I will admit there were times in the weeks and months leading up to it all that I felt a little bit anxious. I was vocal back in October about not being a fan of either candidate and that’s still the truth. But now that we have our answer to over a year of mud-slinging and fact-checking, it seems the world really only believed we could move onward and forward with Mrs. Clinton as president-elect, as evidenced by the level of mourning, lamenting, and gnashing of teeth happening on every social media front since the winner was announced. I wrote those sentiments fully believing that our nation would elect its first woman president, even though she would not receive my vote. And even in the face of that I still believed we would and could move onward and forward. 

But the news is still overflowing with despair and defeat. Granted, I'm only 32, but it seems people are crying and scared and lost in a way that I have never seen post-election. In an interview she did with Oprah, Michelle Obama said what we are feeling right now, this is the feeling of having no hope. Eeeek! Punch me in the heart! Is that what everyone is feeling? Maybe. But what is most astonishing to me is the number of Christians who appear to be feeling the same way and I just have to say, what are you doing? Did you have false hope in a presidential candidate? Did you push all your chips in where they didn't belong? Because that’s the only reason for this level of heartsickness. I can understand if the person who held the office was our only hope, but we know better! At least I hope we do. 

I was talking to Aaron about this and we both came around to the conclusion that if Donald Trump is the worst President we’ve ever had, it will still be okay. God knew this was the outcome before we did. He is not panicked this morning. He is not waking up to a chaotic world and wondering how it happened. He sees the next four years and the next four after that on into eternity and still breathes hope. It's like this illustration I heard recently:

Augustine, the bishop of Hippo, would say that to be human is to have your face pushed up against a stained glass window. You see some color, but you see a lot of broken glass. It is only given to God and those who are with him to be back far enough to see the whole window.

There is some reason for this election outcome, we just can't see the whole window. But maybe the reason is that this is our chance to really be the Church we’re called to be. What if this is our time to shine in the face of darkness? Like Queen Esther, what if we're here for such a time as this? The only thing we can do now is to pray for our President-elect, for his family, and for the people he surrounds himself with as he steps into a very weighty role. The only thing we can do is love our neighbors harder, make sure they know that we are behind them and for them and will do what we can to make sure that they feel included. The Church can and should step into that space. This is our calling. 

The election is behind us (can I get a thousand amens?) and now we go back to our communities and love well the people who are around us, working with us, living next to us. I think it’s easy to say that – to just love them. Everyone can get behind that sentiment. Love, love, love. But loving doesn’t mean agreeing. It means disagreeing and still choosing to come to the table. It means taking opposing views and still going in for the hug and saying, “You belong.” I was listening to a podcast and he was talking about how we don’t really understand the gospel until we can get in community with people we don’t agree with, get offended, and learn to give and receive forgiveness. This is the heart of what we believe. So in the face of much disagreement and division, there is no better time to look at our neighbors and say, “We’re in this together.” Get to know them. Build community with them. Stop reading the news and start listening to the stories of your neighbors. Find ways to get outside yourself and help others. Offer the hope weary souls are so desperately hungry to find.

I’m not fearful or worried about the results of the election because I think we now have a unique opportunity to step into the tender places and be love and light and bridge the gaps that have become so deep over the last 18 months. We might feel broken and we might feel defeated, but we do not despair and we do not add to the noise because we know that it is in the broken and the hurting places that we can point toward wholeness and healing. We know the way. Stop acting like we’re all lost together. Christian, I want to look you in the eyes and remind you that we’re not lost. Do you know this? Did you forget? Honestly, what hope do we have to offer if we’re reeling in much the same way as someone who really has no hope?

I just finished reading this super great book called Boundaries and this should be required reading on the syllabus for human life because I think we're all so guilty of not having healthy boundaries within our relationships, myself included. So I'm personally working hard on this. But one of the things the authors point out is the difference between a responsibility for someone and a responsibility to someone. As the Church, we have a responsibility to step into the sad and broken places and shout from the top of our lungs, YOU ARE WELCOME HERE! We have a high calling to help people see the only safe place for their hope - the same place it was all along. How fitting for this time of year - the time when our very Hope came down to earth. Let's remember the words of our Christmas carols when we sing, A thrill of hope / The weary world rejoices. Do you know that we still have a reason to rejoice?

Rather than fear that our next president will ignite the end of all things on his very first day, rather than dwell on what may or may not happen, gather your people and speak truth and hope over them in fresh ways - preach it to yourself every morning. He is not our hope. The United States of America is not our hope. We move forward knowing that even if things turn awful and all the worst predictions come true, we do so with courage and a steadfast hope that these light and momentary afflictions are just that - light and momentary.

A couple of years ago now I journaled the words, “Jesus, be big!” Gosh, can that be our prayer today and tomorrow and into the next years? Be big today! Show up in new and significant ways. Be big and overcome the division, one conversation, one meal, one hug at a time. Be big in our hearts and quell the fear that seems to be running rampant. Be big in our world and help us to step into hurt places. Help us to remember we have hope to offer a weary world. You are our hope, now, at Christmas, on Inauguration Day, and always. 


P.S. It has been a couple of days now since this post and I would like to add that I hope you don't read this as a call to inaction. It is most certainly not. If, in the coming years, we have reason to protest on behalf of ourselves or our brothers and sisters because our liberties are being denied, then I will be the first to say that we should respond. Yes and amen! But even so, our hope lies elsewhere and we must do well to remember it.

Grace and love,


I went to my parent’s house after church yesterday and as we were getting ready for lunch I asked them if they had heard about Donald Trump. “Of course we heard. Who hasn’t heard?” It’s true. Who hasn’t heard by now, especially after last night's debate. We were all rightly sickened by his vulgar comments. They were demeaning and degrading, unbecoming of someone who is seeking to hold the highest office in our nation, representing us to the world. On the flip side of this, you’ve got an additional score of emails released from Hillary’s server revealing more details of her past dalliances with deception and cover up and revelations about just how high in rank this duplicity climbs. Both have apologized, kind of, but the words rape culture still hang in the air like a fog because attacks on women ring louder than cellphones smashed by hammers.

So we’ve got these two ludicrous options for President of the United States (yes, I am aware there are a handful of other options) with an election less than a month away and each day seems to bring another wave of information revealing all the ways in which these two people are the jokers we’ve all known them to be. As we read each story or hear the newest broadcast, each party cranks the volume up on why their candidate is better than the other, or at the very least, less terrible than the other, and the rest of the population is left wondering how we ended up here, drowning in the deafening noise of media and the call to fact-check.

I’ve said this before and you can read it elsewhere but “the traits we tend to dislike in others are usually the traits we do not like about ourselves.” We are most offended by others when they reveal something in us. They say everyone we meet is our mirror. Maybe that's why we're all up in arms over these two clowns we have as candidates. They're us. And suddenly we don't like it. It’s all fun and games until our candidates actually reflect the character of our nation.

For example, a little time spent looking at pornography might be "normal" or "harmless" until it’s the same message spewing from the mouth of our wannabe president. A little lying is okay, it's not hurting anyone, until it's on a private email server that goes public. We're annoyed when Donald interrupts Hillary, but we're all yelling and talking over each other or constantly trying to one-up our neighbors and coworkers. We hurl insults out of our own insecurities. We're listening to respond rather than listening to understand. We're brazenly selfish and quietly lining our pockets. We flip flop on how we feel about something depending on whose company we're in because, gosh, we want them to like us. It's like the office of the president was a kind of ideal - the person we wish we could be, the family we wish we had, the brains and integrity and character we strive to - but now suddenly he's just like us, making crude jokes, and we're offended. Suddenly she's just a woman doing what you and I do every day but on a world stage - lying, cheating, elbowing her way to the top. We can’t see it in ourselves, but we see it in other people: backstabbing and betrayal, crooked morals and deplorable little habits.

So maybe what we have before us is exactly what we deserve. Maybe these people are us only magnified and on display. They’re liars and cheaters and hypocrites. I'll be the first to admit that I have been all three. So if it’s true, if they’re a reflection of us and we’re disgusted with what we’re seeing, maybe it's time to take a look inward. Where is your heart? Are you a liar? Have you ever cheated? Have you made a joke that you’d be embarrassed to have shared over a loudspeaker? Do you love money? Power? Position? Have you ever used a lie to cover up another one and another? Have you talked down to those you think are less than?

I was listening to Russell Moore speak the other day regarding the state of our nation. He was saying that our nation is resilient and strong and that it’s not the time to panic or turn to apocalyptic-type thoughts about the outcome of this election. I listened to his words and was able to breathe out. It’s true. It’s not time to panic. But what we need now more than ever is a North Star to point us home because it seems we’re all a little lost in the wilderness holding a broken compass. The problem is a lot of us have always known that North Star was Jesus but we've been too worried about looking cool to ever speak up. We’ve always known that the world needs a little more good news, but we’ve let ourselves get caught up in the yelling and arguing or pointing out faults when our own are glaring. I’ve always loved this truth from D.A. Carson and I think it speaks to where we find ourselves now:

People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.

Slouching toward prayerlessness. Cherishing lost self-control. Where do you find yourself today? Ghandi said, “Be the change...” and yet we’ve contented ourselves to think someone else should go first, namely the leader of our country. So where are you compromising and rationalizing? Where are you picking out the speck in someone else when you’ve got your own log about to knock over everything in your path? 

My word for the year is abide. I told you all this back in December. I really felt like that word was put on my heart but I’ve wrestled with it in terms of application. Then I was listening to a sermon last week and he talked specifically about this word and its use in the Bible. In John 8, Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples.” Judah Smith broke that passage down like this:

‘Abide’ means to stay and ‘the word’ is his story. It’s this book [the Bible], it’s his words, a collection of his words… We’ve heard people say, “Read your Bible” but it has become white noise and elevator music... We expect Christians to say, “Read your Bible,” but we’ve lost the mystery, the intrigue, the wonder, the romance, the journey, the treasure hunt that is staying in the story. And that’s all it [Abide in my word] means. Stay in the story. Stay in the story and this will become real. But I’m going to warn you, full disclosure, when you start living in the story, you start living in this book, it is going to begin to affect your schedule. It’s going to affect a Monday or a Tuesday night plan… You stay in the story and it affects how you see your job, and how you do relationship and friendships, it transforms how you see the social constructs of our country because you’re staying in the story… Some of you feel good after Sunday but you know what you’re feeling? You’re feeling the effects of getting back to the story.

We just need to get back to the story. We need a reminder of the story and what we’re about and how this all turns out in the end instead of acting like the next new president is the answer to our country's greatest need. Jennie Allen reminded the other day that kingdoms and nations rise and fall but the one constant, the North Star, the one pointing us onward and forward is Jesus. We can pretend there are other ways around this, that other people or governments or leaders are the answer, but that won’t change the fact that God and his story are the only one to survive thousands of years of attempts to slander and discredit and disregard.

I don’t know what we’re supposed to do in November. We're not responsible for outcomes. But I know there’s one who goes before us and hems us in so more than worry about the next horrible thing that may come out about either candidate or the way in which they’re not fit to lead, because I am confident there will be more, we can really only worry about ourselves and make sure we’re staying in the story. Make sure we're doing our part to be the change. Make sure we’re not slouching toward godlessness but pressing in with ever increasing fervency toward holiness. And maybe as small pockets of people move back toward the story - stay connected to the story - unconcerned with looking cool or having the most followers or feeling like we need to water down the story to make it palatable, maybe we’ll find leaders willing to rise up and do the same.