During a particularly sensitive time in our nation, emotions from Americans have been stemming from delight, hope, and expectation to despair, fear, frustration, and confusion.
I sat on my living room couch with my roommate, streaming CNN’s coverage of the US election well into the early morning, London time. We both knew this election was a defining one for our country, so while we could not peel ourselves away from our computer screens, our hearts began to sink. With every minute, we watched our nation decide what the next four years were going to entail. When I woke up the following morning, I could not help but feel that a tidal wave ushered in what I could only gather as a world of difference. Though I did not know what that difference would look like or how it would precisely manifest itself, I felt its ominous weight upon me and upon the rest of my country from thousands of miles away. More than that, this was a complex sense of difference as some felt this change would altogether benefit our country and others felt this change would usher in years of oppression and discrimination that existed before, but went unnoticed or unacknowledged.
I felt entirely homesick. I wanted to be with the rest of my country as we all were processing this change. I wanted to experience what everyone was feeling- all the polar and divisive emotions that fell on a spectrum that no single person could possibly experience. I wanted to embody each person’s thoughts and feelings- what they hoped for, what they envisioned, and equally what they feared, how they felt lost or displaced, and how their hearts were broken.
It is important to recognize that the election panned out in vastly different interests of the American public. Like any election, some people were thrilled to have voted in their preferred candidate to the presidency, while others’ hopes were put to rest. But, unlike any election, the process that began over a year ago revealed some pressing and undeniable truths about the state of our country. We have seen news of hateful actions morph into repeated and not-so-shocking headlines. We have grown weary, and maybe insensitive, of the same stories that point out unresolved issues in our nation. But, while we may feel that we have been bombarded by a ceaseless flow of information about issues that we cannot possibly begin to tackle, at some point, the stories and testimonies became real. Some of us heard testimonies, personal and public, of hateful speech directed at people who share the same nationality as us. And so, we watched these stories shift from those of remote fiction from an unbridled media to stories from real people- our friends, our families, our neighbors.
As I continued to process what these next four years would look like for our country, I looked for some form of hope I could grasp. I also looked for a point of action- something we could work towards, tactical things that we could work to change. I felt a weight upon my generation to act and to assure that freedom, compassion, understanding, equality, and peace would be the defining aspects of our country. But as I searched for answers and solutions, I began to realize that I was overlooking the source of it all.
The following Sunday I attended church just like any other Sunday. But that afternoon, the Lord spoke to me so distinctly and purposefully. In revealing the desires of my heart, the condition of my heart was reoriented so that my worries were not founded on a wavering future, but that my hope rested in the constant and everlasting promise of our Heavenly Father. Tim Chaddick, our pastor, spoke on Revelation 5 and relayed his heart on what we should do in an age of uncertainty and how we should respond to the world’s need as the church. His reminder, that we must have a clearer understanding of our need, spoke truth and life into my heart. “We need a clearer understanding of our need,” he passionately affirmed, “because it keeps us from placing our hope in all the wrong things.” He continued to speak to this reoriented mindset by allowing us to imagine where we stand before the holy throne of our perfect Father. He asserted that the way we rid ourselves of self-righteousness and cultivate true humility is through realizing where we stand before a holy and mighty God: “When you see God for who He is- He’s perfect, He’s holy, He’s absolutely pure- you realize it doesn’t matter how you compare yourself to others . . . When you see yourself before God, you realize you are in need of mercy and you are in need of grace.”
Positioning ourselves before the perfect love God allows us to realize that we are completely undeserving of that love, but wholly and comprehensively loved through his grace all the same. I believe that this reorientation is necessary in order for us to love and serve the world in the exact way that it needs us to. As followers of Christ, we must continually put ourselves before the throne in the light and love that Jesus has donned on us, so that through grace, we may be able to boldly declare and display the perfect love of God to a world that desperately needs it.
In an uncertain present with an unpredictable future, the demand for us to more boldly represent and display Jesus’ love and grace amid a broken and needy world is now that much greater. But when we find ourselves in a position where we understand our brokenness, our faults and, equally, where we find unending love, acceptance, and freedom, we are able and empowered to answer the overwhelming burden of the world’s every need. As Nelson Mandela said, “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” As followers of the One who paved the most gracious, humble, compassionate, and forgiving way for us, let us enhance the freedom of every single human being on this earth through the light, power, and unending love of Jesus.