Give It A Chance

So many things have been swirling around my head over the last week. There have been times I’ve had to simply remove myself from social media and all media outlets because of the things that I was reading and thinking. I’ve seen friends on both sides of the political spectrum crying out. I’ve heard and seen all kinds of different emotions. Fear. Anger. Joy. Relief. And so many more.

There has been a little glimmer of hope as I’ve watched people process through the election and the state of our country. The refreshing part has been watching people working together, encouraging one another, listening to one another, crying with one another, hearing one another’s story. Difficulty and adversity has a way of bringing people together, causing them to see what’s most important. As I’ve watched some of my friends vent and process their emotions, I’ve noticed a change in some of them and those around them, including me. That has been encouraging to me.

While there’s been some encouragement, there have been a lot of troubling things to me as well. The most troubling thing to me has been that people have been wishing that the president elect would fail. Before the inauguration, before he actually takes office, they’re hoping he fails.


In the midst of all of this, I’ve thought, “These are my friends?!” Yes, it’s a question and a statement. I’ve sat in stunned disbelief that there is no grace in that wish, the wish for someone to fail. Regardless of how much I disagree with someone, no matter how much I might dislike someone, how gracious is it to wish for their demise and failure?

My biggest thought with some of these friends has been, “I feel bad for their children.” Is this the same kind of attitude they take with their children? Are they wishing for their failures? Or is it just the people with whom they don’t agree, and if it is just those people, what kind of level of maturity are we showing when we wish for the failure of anyone who “wins” when we fail to get our way?

But this is what we’ve come to, a place where we draw lines in the sand, where there is a definite “winner” and a definite “loser” in the struggle. Why can’t we find a middle ground? Why can’t we find and extend grace?

Yes, there is hurt. Yes, there have been horrible things done and said. I understand that, but wishing for the failure of the leader of your country?

After September 11th, living just outside New York City, I watched the City respond. I watched people come together. There was a unity across ideologies, across party lines, across ethnic lines. In those days after the terrorist attacks, we weren’t blacks, white, Asians, gays, straights, Republicans, Democrats, or whatever, we were Americans. There was a coming together that people somehow knew was more important.

I’m not comparing our election to the tragedy and disaster of September 11th, but the response could be similar. Like I said, I have been so proud of so many friends on both sides of the political spectrum who have understood the importance of listening. I’ve done my best to listen and observe, to hear the things that I’ve been missing all along. I’ve tried to put aside my own discomforts and listen to what’s making others uncomfortable. It’s hard, I want to talk far more than I want to listen, but that’s growth.

I’m not sure what the next four years will hold. I’m skeptical. Heck, I was born in Brooklyn and raised in New England, skepticism is part of my DNA. But I also have an otherworldly hope, a hope that isn’t in a president, a government, or a country, but in a King and a Kingdom.

I know that I can’t convince anyone of anything, so this post may be simply a release of hot air to those who disagree with me. But I do think that we all need to ask ourselves some things. Have we ever said something stupid, something that we’ve regretted? Have we ever had viewpoints that changed, morphed, and evolved over time? Have we ever been given a second chance? Have we ever given a second chance to others? If we had failed miserably and acted unkindly in the past, wouldn’t we want someone to give us a chance to show that we could act differently.

No, my confidence in the president elect is not at 100%, but I know that I need to give him a chance. That’s what I would want someone to do for me. Like I read somewhere in the last few days, wishing him to fail is almost like wishing a heart attack on the pilot of the plane in which you are flying. I’ve found myself praying more since last Tuesday, and I will continue to do so. Among my prayers is the prayer that we might find a way forward….together, and that when given a chance, maybe, just maybe, we might find ourselves pleasantly surprised that failure was not on the horizon.

2 thoughts on “Give It A Chance

  1. Very well-put, Jon!



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  2. I don’t want to weigh down the graceful spirit of your message of reconciliation, which is certainly called for right now. However, I do understand when folks see a guy come to power on a campaign of some pretty blatantly awful behavior & stated goals – registering and cataloging all Muslims in America, committing war crimes, and encouraging division in our country, for example – they might want him to fail to implement those things. Many people in this country see the results of this election as an affirmation by the church (%80 of White Evangelicals voted for the winner) that they are rejected and have no place at the table, simply because of their identity. Our President-Elect encouraged this mindset throughout his campaign and is now appointing advisers (Stephen Bannon) to his staff who dwelt among the darkest reaches of a pretty horrible aspect of American culture right now – a move that brings great joy to people like David Duke and other extremists.

    Count me among those who very much hopes that he fails to do much of what he has stated he plans to do. Count me also among those who is deeply, fundamentally hurt by the fact that White Evangelical Americans overwhelmingly dismissed blatant racism, sexism, and bigotry in exchange for some flimsy promise of political power. An exchange that many, including myself, see as a clear exposure of a sickness plaguing the Church in America, and a transaction that harms the witness of us all.

    The distinction, I think, is to work hard to make sure that our rejection of these awful things does not lead us to completely dismiss and reject our brothers and sisters who consented and even encouraged his rise to power. No matter what my opinion is, or who I voted for, I must never lose sight that the person on the receiving end of my criticism is also my brother or my sister. It is times when I feel most righteous in my actions that I need to be especially guarded against swelling pride and the harsh behavior that often follows. We humans are at our most brutal when we are absolutely certain of our own righteousness, and have excused the setting aside of the grace and mercy that Christ has called us to.

    None of that means that we have to be “vanilla” as we expose hypocrisy and prejudice. Sometimes the role of the peacemaker is to first call out things that are not up for negotiation. Our equal status as brothers and sisters created in the image of God is one of those things. The fact that we can flatly and strongly reject racist, bigoted beliefs without rejecting the PERSON who God loves is another.

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