I don’t know what I’m doing here. All I know is silence is no longer an option. I’m figuring this out as I go, and there are messy feelings involved.
I don’t write of my feelings lightly, nor do I intend the focus to be on me. I have a tribe of soul friends. I know I’m not alone even if I’m feeling out of sync with humanity at large. I hope you have a tribe, too. And that your tribe is bigger than just the people who hold your hand, and includes people you reach out to and say, “I will stand with you.”
I share for two reasons: solidarity and transformation. If you’re feeling like Alice arrived in a scary Wonderland you don’t understand, you’re not alone. Me too. Blogging isn’t just for solidarity. I write in hopes that we all grow. Frankly, I also seek to connect with those of you baffled by folks who are out of whack and hurt post-election. I don’t want to speak only to the people already agreeing with me.
To be honest, I don’t know if I’m doing this well, and I don’t feel qualified to speak. But, for me to trust in God’s sovereignty, I have to use the voice God gave me. Trusting in God’s sovereignty is not a ticket to passivity for me: it’s a call to action. I cannot stay silent expecting everyone else to do the work while I worry about whether people will still like me.
While I figure out details of what’s next in these conversations, I’m doing these 10 things:
- I reach out to friends hurt by this election. I check in. I listen. I remind people I care about them.
- I say “Ouch!” when something hurts. I don’t want to fight or shame or say mean things, but I’m committed to saying, “Ouch.” If I’m unwilling to be vulnerable, I can’t expect others to know their actions or words hurt me. What the other person does with that knowledge is up to them. I don’t control their choices or responses, just like they’re not responsible for my emotions. I say “ouch!” Then, I move on.
- I fight the urge to shame or blame others. I don’t want to go down that road, and if you’re hearing that from my posts, it’s not my intention. I don’t want to make people feel small or unwelcome, even as I do want to push all of us to take responsibility and take action. I want us to make bigger, more welcoming tables, regardless of where we are in this listening process. And to help me be okay with God’s generous welcome of all humanity, I don’t click on extremist articles in any direction: whether for my perspective or against it.
- I monitor my desire to manage other people’s emotions, especially when their emotions make me uncomfortable. People are allowed to grieve and be angry; there are very legitimate reasons for those feelings in this climate. They get to feel their feelings, and I don’t need to fix them. I don’t need to push them towards premature hope or optimism. They are responsible for their own emotions. And when I goof up, I let people call me out on this.
- I unequivocally support the basic human right to peacefully protest and to freedom of speech, regardless of my agreement with the issue being protested or my judgment about its silliness. I’m not joining in if I disagree with the purpose, but if you want to peacefully protest or speak up — you and your brave self, go on and do it! In addition to the belief that God listens closely to cries for justice and we should, too, I support these rights for fundamentally selfish reasons: supporting your right to protest and freedom of speech protects mine. When one of those dominoes tumbles, they all go.
- I show up even if I’m scared or hurt. I like love when it feels like a warm blanket around me. That’s not always what love feels like. And it’s definitely not what it feels like right now. Sometimes love is showing up even when it’s awkward: staying through the jerky silences and tentative conversation while hoping to find some shade of normal again. I choose to engage, even when I’d rather hide. And sometimes, people surprise me. I don’t want to burn bridges because I’m scared. At least, not right now. I might burn bridges later, but if I do it — it better be for a reason other than fear.
- I apologize. I’m not the only one hurt this election; sometimes my actions hurt others. And sometimes my fear makes me scared of people I should know better. When I realize I might have hurt someone by my actions, I apologize.
- I encourage people for saying something about injustice. I don’t care if people get it 100% right when they speak up, especially not at this juncture. I’m going to praise and reward the effort in hopes of keeping it going. Keep learning. Keep listening. Keep engaging. Keep growing. Don’t stay silent just because it’s easier or comfortable.
- I’m listening and learning. I use Twitter to listen to people further down this road than I am. It’s hard and painful work. But, I do it because it matters, and it’s how I grow. If you’re looking for a place to start listening, check out this list of resources from Christena Cleveland. She’s a fantastic person to start learning from — especially if you’re new to the diversity/reconciliation conversation and you’re nervous about how you’ll be received. Yes, the title of the post might be a bit inflammatory if you’re a Trump supporter, but the list of resources is well worth exploring. Also, her tone in the article is gentle, rather than accusatory, and that makes it easier to hear, especially as a starting point.
- I clasp the hands that make me bolder about justice. If nothing else from this election, I gained a sense that my actions matter, and speaking up matters. Silence hurts. I heard that from others before, but I didn’t feel the impact of it until the last week. I’m timid and afraid of saying the wrong or hurtful things, but I’m learning to speak confidently because I rest with my people who know me and commit to standing with me. And also, I’m learning to be brazen enough to ask where I stand with people when I’m unsure, and to figure out ways to hold hands even if we look at the world differently.