This morning I told my nine-year-old son that Trump won the presidential race last night. His response broke my heart. He said, "but Momma, he's gonna build a wall."
I tried to reassure him that it takes a long time to build a wall and that Trump can't do it all by himself, that the rest of the government would have to say it's ok, and I didn't think they would do that. Then I told Ben that we trust in God more than we trust in the president. "After all, God's in charge of who the president is," I said. "And God's kingdom is going to outlive America."
But the whole time I was feeling just as worried as my son; I wanted a parent to reassure me, too. I had a hard time believing my own words because, in many ways, it feels like Trump has already built that wall.
Then I got home and thought about all the walls I've built this last year.
It seems I'm always in self-protection mode. I don't like the thought of everyone who walks by my house being able to see the inside. It's so scary to think about sharing my life with people I don't know and don't trust. I'm so worried about everyone else's judgements regarding my decisions.
But man, all of that worry is killing me. It is not the way I want to live.
I want to be free to tell you that I DO NOT have my shit together. I am only doing the best I can, and so much of the time, I get fooled into thinking that my best should look like an instagram photo. But it hardly ever does. I am a mess. My kids are a mess. My house is a mess. My husband might have it together emotionally, but his car is always full of trash. We don't have just one junk drawer in the kitchen, we have twelve. There's dust and mold and cobwebs in every corner of our house--and I'm not being metaphorical.
I get the dishes and laundry done most of the time. I manage to keep all five of us fed. I hate grocery shopping, so most of our meals are very simple. Spaghetti, tacos, take home and bake pizza. Nutritious and organic are not my top priorities, convenience is. I'm in charge of paying the bills, and we do alright there. Our mortgage is paid on time, we get by month after month, but we don't always tithe.
I know I've taught my children the importance of bathing on a regular basis, but so far I've only convinced two of them. We're t-shirts and blue jeans kind of people. We don't use a great deal of hair products, and I'm the only one who wears a significant amount of make-up. (On the days I decide to actually leave the house.) There's not a whole lot of ironing or primping or great fashion advice exchanged in my house, but we all manage to get hugged everyday--some of us whether we want to or not.
There's only a handful of days on which I haven't cried this year. I know that sounds depressing, like I need to up my medication, but hey, I have two teenagers! And one of them will be graduating next year, and I'm also turning 40 in twenty-one days.
2016 has been tough on me, it's true. I feel like I've aged five years instead of one. But I've also done more writing than ever. More and more people are reading my words. I've loved my husband way better than any other year, and I'm finally beginning to understand just how short this life is. I have railed at God, and the world, more than ever before, but I still feel hopeful every time I look up at the sky, or an old tree, or into the eyes of another human being.
In spite of all our messes, we still make time to hold hands around here, and walk the dogs, and go out for ice cream. We fight with each other, we're selfish and lazy, and we spend way too much time staring at screens for entertainment. We spill milkshakes in the car, and we don't always come to a complete stop at the four way, but we have such potential for good. We're so very lucky in so many different ways.
I'm sad for my country today, because I think the rest of the world will see us differently now. It feels like they're all thinking, "We knew that America was just too good to last. All that hope and freedom was phoney from the get go." And there's a decent sized part of my heart that thinks the same thing. I wonder if I'm going to be able to sing the national anthem now. I can't imagine myself listening to our new leader with any sort of respect. I wish I had a new symbol to pledge allegiance to. One that says all of us are valuable, regardless of what we look like, where we come from, or even how badly we behave. One that inspires hope and bravery, instead of fear and dread. One that promotes unity instead of division.
But then I remember--I've already pledged my allegiance to that symbol. The cross of Jesus Christ proclaims that forgiveness is the way ahead. Mercy is the bandage for our wounds, love is the balm for our misdeeds, and grace is the power we need in order to heal. So even though this president is not the one I chose, my job as a citizen is still the same: to seek justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with my God.
Not everyone I come in contact with has chosen the same God as me, but I can't do anything about what anyone else chooses. I can only control myself. I'm in charge of how I treat the people whose values do not line up with my own. I'm responsible for my words and actions toward my fellow humans, regardless of what they believe. I can not and will not force anyone to believe what I want them to. That's how freedom works. It's a gift God gave to mankind, and it's a gift I hope our country will continue to share with the world. It won't be a perfect gift because we're not perfect people, but I think things can still be pretty good, as long as we keep doing the best we can.