4 Things to Tell Our Kids {and Ourselves} the Day After a Bitter Election

walking away

I went to bed at 10:20 last night. This election season had already robbed our nation of its dignity and decorum. I wasn’t about to let it rob me of my sleep.

I woke up a little before 6 am and immediately checked my phone. I ran into the living room where my husband sat and asked in disbelief, “Did he WIN?!?”

“Yes,” he said. “Donald Trump won.”

And then in a reaction that I could not anticipate or explain, I leaned against the knotty pine wall and wept. They were not tears of joy.

This post is not about my political views, which are a mixed bag. I don’t really fit anywhere or with anyone. I’ll simply say that I didn’t vote for either main party candidate. Because I don’t live in a battleground state, I had the luxury of voting my conscience. Sort of.

I also live in a house that is somewhat divided. None of my children are of legal voting age but they have opinions nonetheless. The five of us passionate people have not been able to calmly talk about politics for sometime now. I’m a misfit even in my own home.

As I fed my boys oatmeal and then drove my teenagers to school, I told them a few things. I cried a lot and they looked at me, bewildered. But there were things they needed to know before they walked into their diverse community of peers and it was my responsibility to tell them.

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1. Everyone is feeling differently about the results. Please be kind and sensitive.

Mlo & CJ

For example, your hispanic friends might feel afraid today. Their family’s status here may not be secure. You were born into the privileges that come with white skin, American citizenship, financial stability, educational opportunity, and freedom. So was I. We didn’t choose these privileges or ask for them. We possessed them as soon as soon as exited our mother’s wombs and entered the world.

You have friends at your school who tell a different story. Please consider their story.

In the words of Atticus Finch,

…If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.

If ever there was a time for walking around in someone else’s skin, surely it’s now.

There are also those who are glad or relieved today. For example, hardworking small business owners who have been shackled by legislation to the point of laying off employees and not being able to provide for the families of their workers.

This heavy responsibility has kept them up at night. Perhaps they have a bit of hope today.

We need to understand this too.

Every vote has a story behind it. If we don’t make space in our minds and hearts to understand this, we will continue to be marked by division instead of connection.

 

 

2. Listen.

tab and nomi

“Kids, whether you’re on Twitter {remember, I have teenagers}, in the lunchroom, on the bus, or in the classroom — practice listening. In this world where everyone has something to say and is rushing to say it fastest and loudest and angriest and funniest, choose instead to listen. And as you listen, seek to understand where the fear or relief or concern or anger is really coming from.”

One of the redeeming gifts of this election is a text thread between my siblings and me. We didn’t all vote the same but we do share common hopes, fears, concerns, and the desperate need for comic relief. Most of all, we love and respect and trust one another. We’ve been texting obsessively for three days now, sharing the funny things our kids have said and passing along the best stuff from Twitter.

My brother and his wife have a five-year-old daughter with special needs. When his two older kids saw the video of Trump mocking someone with disabilities, that was all they needed. In the clearcut understanding that only children possess, a vote for Trump, in their minds, was a vote of hate against their little sister.

As grown-ups, we know that’s not necessarily true. That it’s more nuanced than that.

But it’s easy to understand why my niece and nephew feel that way, isn’t it?

Seek to listen in such a way that it’s easy to understand why people feel the way they do, even if you don’t agree. Understanding doesn’t equal agreement. But understanding and empathy go a long way in preserving relationship and strengthening community.

 

3. We don’t all agree on the government’s responsibilities to its people, but Jesus is  clear on our responsibilities to all people.

girls lake

What if we cared more about our individual responsibilities to others than about securing our individual rights?

What if we dared to love those who are racially, socially, and politically different than us, just like Jesus did?

One of my favorite examples of this is the Samaritan woman at the well.

The Samaritans were a racially mixed people who had thwarted Jewish efforts to rebuild the temple. They were long-time enemies who mixed other beliefs with Scripture.

Furthermore, this woman was, well, a woman. Tradition mandated that Jesus not even speak to her. He was a man, a Jew, a rabbi. And she wasn’t just a woman, she was a woman of loose morals. A woman who had gone through five husbands and was living with a man she wasn’t married to.

But Jesus.

He crossed the lines of race, gender, class, and respectability because he loved her. He sought her out. Read the story and you’ll discover that He — someone who held all the power — makes himself indebted to her.

He defied social and religious law for her.

Why? Because the reality of who He was — truth and love and hope — was her ultimate need. Jesus did not manifest himself to her in pages of right theology, in social programs, or economic legislation.

He simply went to her in love and truth. Not love without truth or truth without love. He carried both.

And He went to great lengths to do so, changing his route to situate himself in her life. This means he took action. He crossed every respectable barrier to sit beside her at the well in the heat of the day.

{Before the chapter ends we see that His next miracle was for a wealthy official, proof that spiritual poverty is common to all of humanity. Don’t neglect loving and serving your rich neighbor simply because he’s rich. Need and lack come in all forms.}

 

4. Let’s be willing to do it.

cheeseboard bfast

If you’re someone who has said that the rapidly expanding and encroaching government has taken over the responsibilities of the church, I have good news.

You might get the chance to put your money with your mouth is.

If you’re someone who is in a state of grief this morning because you’re afraid of what this election means for the vulnerable and marginalized, I have good news.

You too will get the chance to put your money where your mouth is.

The people, the causes, the social justice work that matters to you — it matters just as much now and you can be part of the solution.

I told my big kids that certain people in our community might need more of our help now and this might cost us something. Maybe not immediately, but maybe eventually. Are we willing to do this?

And to be fair and honest, the same would be true if the election had turned out differently.

Whenever freedoms are lost {or not there to begin with}, we have a responsibility to step in. This will always cost us something.

Jesus stepped into a broken world to do something about it. He knew it would cost him his life but He did it anyway, for us and for the world. And now He makes his home within actual people, imperfect though we are.

Regardless of how you voted or how you feel today, let the power and presence and hope of Jesus lead you into broken places.

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Friends, what does the Lord ask of us on the day after a bitter election?

The same thing He has always asked of us.

To act justly

and to love mercy

and to walk humbly with your God.

{Micah 6:8b}

We can do these things as we equip our children, as we go to our jobs, as we prepare the meal, as we practice hospitality, as we listen and seek to understand, as we stand with those who don’t have the privileges we have, as we stand with those who voted differently than we did.

May Jesus himself walk beside each of us today. May He remind us that He’s our only true hope. And may He prepare us for the good and sacred work that lies ahead.


 

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Postscript:

There’s a reason I don’t write about politics. It’s not the purpose of this space and I honestly don’t want to spend my mental and emotional energy having these kinds of conversations on the internet. I’m not cut out for it and I hope you’ll respect that. I feel like I have the kindest readers on the planet but with politics, well, it feels risky. I know you won’t all agree with what I’ve written here and that’s okay.

Still, I do have a purpose for this space. I’m all about helping you recapture the possibility of your right-now life, no matter how bleak or messy it appears. I write to remind us of what’s true as we live in the tension between the right-now and the hoped-for. Everything I write has to pass through that filter before I hit publish.

Some of you are already hopeful today. Some of you are not. Some of you don’t know what you are. I pray that these words provide a bit of hope and perspective, no matter where you are or how you’re processing things.

Grace and Peace,
Marian

P.S. These resources have been especially helpful to me in recent years as I learn more about what it means to live with compassion in my community.

Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just by Timothy Keller

Falling Free: Rescued From the Life I Always Wanted by Shannan Martin

Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion by Father Gregory Boyle

 

An Announcement. Aaaaand…I Need Your Help.



Hi friends.

I’ve been staring at the blinking cursor on the blank screen waiting for meaningful words to show up. They have not. 

So in the absence of a meaningful post I thought it might be time to tell you the thing that currently preoccupies.

Are you ready?

I’m rolling out a new blog. 

Raise your hand if you thought I was going to tell you I’m pregnant and that I need help naming my baby.

Nothing that huge and dramatic, people. But it does feel a little bit like having a baby {minus the sickness, stretch marks, and pain} and I do need some help with a name. But more on that in a minute.

I don’t have an exact “delivery date” yet. There will be plenty of wrinkles to iron out first. But after an extremely long gestation period / creative and technical process, she’s almost here. 

I’m giddy and terrified. {And will stop with the pregnancy / baby metaphor now.}

Here are some questions you might have:


Scooper, why are you changing things up?

I’m glad you asked. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time. For lots of reasons, the timing simply hasn’t been right until now. I’ve wanted a name that was less “themey” and more reflective of me and my content. And I wanted a design that felt more reflective of those things too.


Are you switching from Blogger?

Yes, I’m switching to a self-hosted site using a custom WordPress theme. Blogger is great in that it’s very user-friendly and easy to set up. It’s lacking, however, in functionality and customization. I also worry about ownership of my content with Blogger. Having a self-hosted site {where one actually owns their web domain} provides more options and makes my content a little bit easier to find. 


Will you tell us your real name after you move?

Yep, I sure will. No more Scooper. Unless of course you really want to call me that. In a way I’ll forever be Scooper.


Will you still be writing about the same stuff?

That’s the plan. My content will still be “a little scoop for every slice of life.” As much as I’d love to be a niche blog, I’m just too random to pin down. There’s too many things I love to write about. I’ve made peace with it.


Will all of your content and comments move with you?

Absolutely. All 400+ posts and comments will be moving with me. {Fingers crossed!}


I subscribe via e-mail to your blog. Will I still get each post delivered to my inbox?

Yes.


You mentioned that you need my help. How?

There are two ways. First, I need some naming help. I’ve got the name for the blog. It’s both very original and not original at all. How’s that for vague? But I’m still struggling with the tag-line. I’ve got long lists of possibilities and while one of them stands above the rest, even it doesn’t feel 100% right. As it turns out, naming your blog is harder than naming your baby. At least it is for me. 

I’d love some feedback from you on this. What overall theme or message do you find in my posts? How do you feel after you’ve read a post? What words describe my content? I’ve got some ideas on this but I’m obviously not objective. Hearing from you may give me some fresh perspective. 

There’s another way you can help. What sort of posts are your favorite? What would you like to see more of? My primary motivation for writing is simple. I write because I’m a writer. I can’t not write. It’s how I process. It’s how I learn. It’s how I reinterpret and make meaning of both the epic and the everyday. Some of my writing is private {in journals} and some of it is public here on the blog. But I’ve also come to see writing as part of my calling, as a way to encourage and inspire, as a way of speaking truth and beauty into the world around me. With that said, what are some of the most encouraging and enjoyable kinds of posts you’ve read here? What topics would you like to see explored in the future? 

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I can’t wait for you to see the new place. The design is close to done and it’s going to be simple and lovely. My friend and fairy blogmother, Kindel {at Willow White Studios}, is the genius and cheerleader behind this whole endeavor. I wouldn’t have attempted this without her. 

Stay tuned for more updates but in the meantime, help a sister out and let me know your thoughts. You can reply in the comments or even send me an e-mail: scooperalamode at gmail dot com. 

Thanks a million, friends!

Southern Snow Day: Bring on the Roasting Pan Sleds and Milk Sandwiches



We make our home in the South. We’re not famous for our wintry mixes and abundance of snow plows down here. A mere dusting shuts the place down.

Panicked shoppers have pillaged the bread and milk aisles like ravenous stormtroopers. Even my Michigan-born husband made one last trip to the store in the pre-dawn hours to get more water and emergency lighting. 


{FYI, Emergency Lighting “provides light when things go dark.” I’m glad we’re all clear on the purpose of lighting.}


He also grabbed another thermometer, Pop-Tarts, and ketchup, of all things. {He cannot be trusted.} Plus some bread and milk. Again. Because that’s just what we do down here. 


{The Walmart bread aisle at 6 am this morning.}




My brother lives in Atlanta and we were texting this morning. He told me he saw a meme with a picture of a snowy roadway and the yeti from Rudolph. The quote said, “Keep calm and eat your milk sandwich.” I’m still dying over that one. 

So we’re having a Star Wars marathon on this midweek winter morning and I’d forgotten the fabulousness of Princess Leah’s hair. It really is the best hair in movie history. I’d also forgotten that Harrison Ford looks 12. But perhaps the best part of the entire movie is the awesome line in The Empire Strikes Back when Leah says to Han, “I love you” and he replies with “I know.”

I predict a year’s worth of screen time for all of us over the next few days. Unless we lose power and then we’ll be playing board games via the Emergency Lighting and stress-eating the large batch of chocolate-chip cookies I made yesterday. If things get really bad, I may have to concoct a way to make the magic popcorn on our grill or in the gas fireplace. Desperate times call for desperate measures and desperate times always call for the magic popcorn. 

Our kids will be sledding on cardboard boxes and roasting pans. 




Because unlike our reserves of bread and milk, we are not well stocked in snow toys. They will also come in every 20 minutes to dry out and warm back up. Our cotton gloves and athletic pants and sneakers are not exactly L.L. Bean-worthy. 

So those are our plans for the next few days. I am filled with equal parts excitement and nervousness. Also, I should probably take a shower in case we lose our utilities and are forced to lounge in filth and squalor the rest of the week.

Okay, time to sign off. Luke just found out who is father is and we all need a moment. 

If you’re in the neighborhood feel free to stop by. I make a mean milk sandwich.


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How about you? Is is snowing in your neck of the woods? Any tips for surviving southern snow days?

Update: My sister-in-law found the milk-sandwich yeti. : )




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