Wednesday, November 07, 2012

When You Don't Get Your Way

This post is not intended to be about politics. It is about people. It is about how to live in community knowing that we will RARELY find human beings who see eye to eye on everything. It is about being prayerful, intentional people of love and action. It is about how to respond when you win...and how to react when you don't get your way. It is about being very careful how we live and the message our words and actions send to others and to the impressionable eyes and hearts of our children.

I live in a red state among a region of red states. I have heard and read many concerning things today regarding the outcome of the election. Some Romney backers have displayed disappointment, others have pledged to pray for and support the President even though he wasn't their choice, and there is yet another segment that is off the charts in their predictions that the 'sky is falling'. As I sorted through some of the responses in the latter category, I tried to feel empathy for those with the most vitriolic messages--searching for the underlying feelings really behind their words. What I read is fear. There is a basic distrust in what the future holds. Many people are frightened (perhaps even rightfully so).

I, like many other parents, tried to engage my children in this election process. They asked us who we voted for. We talked about a few reasons why. Last night after dinner we spent an hour watching the reports of the early results. This morning when they woke up, my boys were both anxious to know 'who won.' They responded as if Alabama or Georgia had lost a big game. (I know this is bigger than that, but they are eight!) In every contest with more than one participant there is a winner and a loser. It's life.

As I spent a bit of time at school this morning I overheard 7-8 year olds comparing notes of how they responded (what they threw) when they found out Obama won. I heard of other grade school children who cried or admitted being 'afraid' of what will happen next. Since when do elementary school children need to be burdened with this stuff? It gave me a serious check in my spirit. We adults need to watch it.

We say that we are fighting for the future...for our children. Believers say that we trust God as our King regardless of who is in the Oval office. Somehow we are allowing our efforts to lead our children to feelings of anger and insecurity.  Somewhere our message is being lost in translation.

This is not written in an effort to be especially critical of either party. Had the outcome been a Romney win, I am certain Obama supporters would be similarly frustrated and frightened today. This is where we all need to take a big collective breath...

We can disagree. We can be disappointed. We can have our passions that fuel our desire for change. I even dare to say that we can allow ourselves to feel frustrated, angry or sad--but we must ask the Lord to stop us from letting those negative emotions take hold and lead us into sin.

Again, this isn't just about politics. It is about life. It is about what happens in our hearts when we don't get our way.
The diagnosis is not what we'd hoped.
The relationship that we have humbled ourselves to try and salvage leads to more rejection.
The job/house/hope is lost.
The one for whom we prayed healing dies.
What do we do then?

Do we pitch a temper tantrum or do we live what we say we believe...that God is Sovereign...that He chose something different that what we had hoped...that we need to lick our wounds, confess our feelings to Him and obediently follow Him to the next thing.

Our children are watching. Non-believers are too. This is where the rubber meets the road.

I have been thinking a lot about the message I want my trio to have from November 2012. I think it is this: I prayed. I obeyed what I thought God wanted me to do. It doesn't mean my guy won...but I have peace. I will move forward in thanksgiving, grateful that I serve a God who knows the future. He sees the whole picture and this is His Will.

Many of my fellow Americans voted for Obama because of the positive impact they hope his presidency will have on their lives. Between tax code changes and Obamacare, there will likely be a significant negative economic impact on my family from this election. That doesn't have to mean there will be a relational and spiritual one as well. 

Let's work together to solve many of the issues that have stirred us. Let's model how God-fearing adults handle conflict and disappointment. Let's figure out how to heal, how to love and how to NOT do this to one another again in four years.

In ALL things, to God be the glory.


Taylor York said...

Extremely well said and I could not agree more! This is certainly a time, no matter who won the election, for us to continue to be lights in our world. I love this message, Jennifer!

Lauren said...

As usual, you said it very WELL, my friend! May God's will be done...My hubby and I talked about a little bit of this over lunch, and we decided to cling to the fact that God is in control and He knows BEST. We do not. There is meaning beyond the madness that we cannot always grasp. The Bible says to take care of the doesn't say to take care of the poor that we think deserves it. God is the judge not me. I have to keep reminding myself of that instead of getting mad at the poor who are lazy and uneducated (by choice) for taking a handout all the time. I just HAVE to focus on my part (and my heart). Not theirs. I cannot control them, only me. The beautiful thing is that the world is still spinning and God still loves us!!!!

katie said...

thanks for taking the time to write this jen. i live in a really BLUE state. my kids did a mock election at their school where obama won by around 80-90%. so basically, it's the opposite of your world. and it sounds like our politics are different personally as well, but you know what?
our peace comes from the same place sister.
our hope comes from the same place as well.

JMom said...

Yes, indeed, Katie...different cultures, SAME Lord. This is what we should be celebrating.

Laura said...

I love your response, Jen! I am from Ohio....yes, the famous swing state. Our politics are different, but our God is the same. This is a breath of fresh air from so many other of the "disappointed." I pray my reaction would be the same if the results were different.
Blessings to you, friend.

ChanaSorel said...

I too come from a blue state. I went into the voting booth with a prayer that I recited before voting, as did many of my friends. It happened that my guy won. And there will be an economic impact on my family.
I appreciate what you wrote - thank you! I truly believe that if we don't learn to talk with one another, learn to listen to each other's stories, and respect that others have made thoughtful, prayerful choices, even when they differ from our own we will not be able to mend our world.
(And in that light, I want to share a link a friend sent me, to a blog that has some suggestions on how we can begin to work together: )

Mindy said...

This is a great post! I am honestly saddened by all the mud slinging that has gone on between people who love Jesus.

Somehow I think he expects us to teach our children how to love our neighbor as ourselves. And how to hold our tongues.

It just makes me sad

Denice said...

You put into words exactly what has been on my heart these last few days. Thanks for saying it so well.

Teresa said...

I live in one of your neighboring red states, in one of the reddest counties. My younger son, a third grader, heard comments similar to those your children heard. So sad.
Something I am learning to control is my cynicism toward many of today's politicians. I've been a registered voter for thirty years, and have become increasingly disgusted with the way candidates present themselves, and what they're willing to say to get votes(regardless of party) at local, state, and national levels. My older son, a seventh grader has picked up on my reactions. While I want him to learn to be prayerfully discerning, cynicism and sarcasm are not things he needs to learn. And I have not always set the best example.

As You Wish said...

So very well said. Thank you for your refreshing and spot on response. God bless!

Anne said...

I always love to read your posts. : ) I too come from a blue state. My husband and I have VERY different views politically (grin)and from what I learned on fb I have VERY different views then 95% of my friends...which surprises me from that percentage that we live in a blue state! : ) I love them all and respect them all so much. I too had to unfriend one person because I couldn't take the negativity...then I ran across this blog and she hit the nail on the head. I actually had people saying very similar things about it being a "tragic day". I was so glad to hear someone say things that I just couldn't put into words. I hope you can see this blog, as I'm not sure it'll open up. I do not know this person, someone on fb posted it and I was very leary of reading it and so glad in my heart I did.

Christi said...

I agree with most of what you're saying here - I am afraid that I have been one of those parents whose words have led to those feelings in my children, and in hindsight I DO wish I'd been more careful with my elementary aged children.

However, I do not believe that God necessarily CHOSE this outcome (or any other "bad" outcome of a circumstance. (And I'm not presuming here to know which way He would've wanted it to go.). This is a fallen world of people with free will and while He does ALLOW "bad" things to happen, that doesn't mean it's what he would choose. Yes, He is still on the throne, and I believe it! He is not surprised by any of this (or a diagnosis, wayward child, or job loss). But that does not mean it is His choosing.

Angie Prince said...

Amen to Christi's comment!

Sammy said...

I appreciate this post and I appreciate that I'm not the only person from a blue state with blue state values who reads and likes this blog. It says a lot about you as a writer. That people from both sides of the fence can find common ground and truth.

JMom said...

I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the open discourse (including things we don't see eye to eye). I have been contemplating addressing the "God's Will" part of this & felt it was a conversation that might be too tricky to have via the written word.
This morning, however, my Presbyterian pastor offered these Scripture passages during his sermon called "The Right Man Won." (Which he wrote last week before the election outcome to further his point)
Isaiah 46:10
Isaiah 14:27
Daniel 4:35
Daniel 2:21
Ecclesiastes 7:13
Romans 13:1-2
Lamentations 3:37
I have never been to seminary and am not a theologian, just another pilgrim on this journey, so I offer these Scripture passages for your own personal reflection and consideration.

Christi said...

Thanks, Jen - I look forward to studying those Scriptures in light of this conversation! xo