The American Heart

Above: My daughter watching the election. She wore my feelings on her face. 

I’m learning that freedom and security in our world are simply mirages.

Perhaps the more unbelievable and comical aspects of this election are the responses that flood my Facebook feed and the corners of cable television in the wake of such brutal campaigns. It is quite amusing that we are, in the least bit, surprised by the results of this election.

I understand that many of my readers are optimists. And many of my friends are hopeful. And we should be. As followers of Jesus, we should know hope intimately. As humans with hearts and heads, we should be sensitive to the wellbeing of one another, and the basic human rights of all people.

But, I must admit, in light of prophecies outlined in Scriptures and the recent tune of our society at-large here in the United States, I am not the least bit astonished by our options in candidates or by the outcome of this civil war masked as an election.

I feel an urge to share some observations as a woman who has had the privilege of knowing a wide array of people types in my short journey. I know some of our nation’s wealthiest and some of our nation’s poorest people. I know people of color, people of various faiths and spiritual convictions, republicans, democrats, libertarians, and socialists. I have known people washed in elite academia, people educated by hard knocks from life on the streets, people who have had their futures secured by trust funds, people who have never known financial security, farmers, financial gurus, doctors, and the mentally unstable. I have brushed shoulders with pastors, politicians, prostitutes, professors, drug dealers and professional musicians. And among all of these people, I have noticed that we have one thing in common:

We all claim to be people of love.

As Americans, we like to prescribe worth based on education, economic affluence, probable production, talent, potential pleasure, security, and comfort. We innately make decisions that self-preserve and lead to the promotion of worth in ourselves, in our families, and in our society. And we all have different grids for measuring such worth.

Some of us honestly felt a female presidency would break the bonds of misogyny in our nation and move us away from rape culture.

Some of us felt that a businessman in the white house would promote economic choice, capitalism, and safety.

Some of us felt a woman with political experience could at least steer us toward progressive legislation in terms of human rights and social justice.

Some of us felt that a man who would surround himself with experienced professionals might preserve the sanctity of life here in the United States.

But, the truth is, we are all wrong. Every single one of us. No man or woman could break the bonds that have been fastened around the arms of our nation. These bonds were fashioned by sin and remain in place by the fallenness of man, not the moral collapse of a nation.

We are not people of love. We are people of selfishness. At our core, we are not good. Even the most moral among us have to admit that there is, within us, a natural tendency toward selfishness. We are a people who are devastatingly broken. We are people who are bent on self-preservation, even at the expense of others.

The wealthy get wealthier, at the expense of the poor.

The poor want wealth shared, at the expense of the wealthy.

And everyone feels a sense of justice in what “is warranted” for the survival and security of their families.

As Americans, we have rarely known life without security, predictability, comfort, and a sense of control. In the coming days, weeks, and years, we may feel a domestic and international sense of vulnerability that could cause us to choose fear over love and question our foundation.

I would like to take this opportunity to say, security and comfort in this world are not possible. We are broken people surrounded by broken people. And when such brokenness collides, we experience derision, casualties, and sometimes, death.

There is hope.

Jesus offers hope to us. He came and died a brutal death to take on all of the pain, injustice, racism, homophobia, misogyny, hate, death and darkness. He died for the evil selfishness that embeds itself in the heart of man. And without Him, we are innately cloaked in this depravity and we will continue to wrestle with the symptoms of dark hearts rather than dealing with the root of the problem.

As we accept His sacrifice and His invitation into a life with Him, He aligns us with His heart. When we ask Him to forgive us for the hateful places hidden deep inside of us, He removes the darkness and aligns us with His love, His joy, and His peace.

It is through surrendering to Him, asking for His forgiveness and for His heart toward other people, that we will truly be people of Love.

Through Him alone can we become vessels of unconditional love, which is the only weapon powerful enough to break the bonds in which our nation and our world are currently entangled.

And so if you suddenly find yourself in a good mood after Tuesday’s results, I would challenge you to ask yourself why? Is it because you suddenly feel a sense of fiscal or physical security?

Do you find yourself angry and upset in light of the results? Why is that? Were you hoping for a bandaid to cover the gaping wound that is our nation’s brokenness?

And so, to the Conservatives, I would like to say: you are wrong.

Some of the poorest people I have met in my work and in my walk have been some of the smartest and wisest. I once helped run a homeless shelter, and many of our guests had bachelor degrees. Some even had masters degrees and PhDs. Not everyone in line using food stamps is abusing the system. Many people who have found themselves in destitution are there due to a health crisis and/or broken relationships. Have mercy and be kind. We are called to give our lives away, even if it threatens our financial and physical security/prosperity here on this earth. You do not get to decide who “deserves help” – there is no such provision in Scripture. God is lending you what you have. Be wise, but also, be surrendered.

Challenge yourself to love everyone equally. Just because you have a friend who is a person of color does not mean you are not a racist. We are all racists. We all have subconscious thoughts and feelings that arise in us when surrounded by people who are different than us. Challenge yourself to be honest about the darkness in your heart. Jesus can change us, but only if we are willing to admit that we need Him to do so.

You are not one tax break, one gun right, one marriage law, one prayer in a public school, or one wall away from experiencing freedom and security. You may catch a glimpse of momentary happiness and satisfaction, but true freedom and security will come only from knowing God.

And, to the Liberals, I would like to say: you are wrong.

There are some people who have worked hard to enter into wealth. Not everyone is born there. Sure, being a caucasian, male, heterosexual, U.S. born citizen lends itself to opportunity and privilege – that’s undeniable – But there has emerged this underlying assumption that, as a human being, we are entitled to wealth. The truth is, wages are earned based on work. Those who have worked to have resources do not owe it to those who have not worked to provide such resources. Without a system in which those who work get to experience the benefit of such labor, our economic structure would collapse. Scripture indicates that workers earn their wages and that it is of God to enjoy the work of our hands. Yes, there are far more words in Scripture that speak of giving our wealth away, but God’s design was for that giving to happen out of our free will. He invites us into opportunities to give with a cheerful heart. Until, as Americans, we all house a cheerful heart upon giving, we are simply not there yet.

Challenge yourself to understand that you, too, are racist. You, too, are judgmental, You, too, are in an imperfect process and have darkness in your heart that requires God’s redemption. You, too, embrace injustice in the name of survival and self-preservation. You, too, hunger for the security and comfort that our world and our political system cannot offer. We are all broken. We are all wrong. And we are all extended the same invitation by God to be touched and changed.

You are not one marriage law, one abortion, one end of life choice, or one healthcare opportunity away from having happiness and freedom. True, unrelenting, freedom and happiness will come only from knowing God.

Our political system will never be perfect because it is on this side of heaven.

Yes, our nation was founded on “Judeo-Christian” beliefs (inspired by Scripture), and that’s unbelievably cool. But, we also charged onto this land and displaced a ton of people in the name of God as “illegal immigrants.” We may have Scriptural principles as an undergird to our constitution, but our original behavior was not godly in the least bit.

And our behavior toward one another today, whether you find Scripture to validate it or not, is also cold and rooted in a heart of selfishness.

We can try and change our nation through another Facebook post, obnoxious tweet, political conversation, newspaper article, blog entry, online article sharing, or 28 days of gratitude displayed on social media. We can press on as usual and wander down the halls of our schools, continue on in our workplaces, go to our crossfit gyms, meditate in our yoga studios, and try and forget this nonsense ever happened.

Or, we can just begin with ourselves and uncover and surrender the evil in our own hearts without talking in circles or pointing to our right or our left.

We can recognize that we are wrong and that we need Jesus. We need Jesus to help us not be crappy humans. We need to peel the focus off of ourselves, off of our political system, and off of our nation, and place our hope in Someone eternal.

Because, God knows, this cycle cannot continue.

God’s delight is not in our political system, it is in you.

Matthew 7:3

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

Ephesians 1:3-14 (MSG)

How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.

It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.

It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.

2 Timothy 3:1-5

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of god, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power”

1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.

Romans 13:1

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

2 Corinthians 4:17

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. 

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