I’m on the phone talking to a mom who won’t talk to her daughter. She voted one way. The mom voted the other.
But that’s only half of what’s driving a wedge between the two. The daughter has left the church, denouncing all religion. The mother calls her daughter’s choice “evil.” Not exactly words to heal their hearts and rebuild their family.
That’s where we all stand this morning. It’s the day after. Even if we don’t know who won the election yet, the biggest question remains: How do we heal? Can we mend our fences? As a nation, in our families, in our souls?
These past four years have felt like some of the longest in recent memory. The hate, blame, ire, bile, and nasty “us vs. them” battling has consumed our hearts, minds, and lives.
One nonprofit leader was secretly videotaped describing America’s political process as “good vs. evil.” Is that why neighbors ripped out campaign signs from other neighbor’s yards? Even burned them? Why even family members see blood relatives as the enemy?
So, now what? Where do we go from here — together?
Talking to the hurting mother, I hear pushback. She’s not feeling it. “What about my standards? My religion? Why should I compromise my beliefs when I can’t endorse the choices my daughter has made?”
I sigh. How did we get here? And how do we merge our differences when red states and blue states live essentially on different planets? When people get news and information from conflicting sources? When parents won’t speak to adult children with opposing views? When neighbors see each other as enemies?
I tried to reflect on these things as I struggled to write this “day after” essay three weeks before today.
For starters, I reached back to Abraham Lincoln’s famous speech: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
It sounds so noble now. Then I recalled that Lincoln’s words, in 1858, were considered blasphemy. The day’s hot issue was slave states vs. free states. Lincoln was running for the Senate. Thus, he proclaimed:
“A house divided against itself cannot stand . . . this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free . . . it will become all one thing or all the other.”
True words. And yet? He lost that election. Even his political friends thought his comments were too “radical”. And now?
Sitting in my home office, trying to talk to a hurting mom, I realize she doesn’t need a speech. She needs God. We both do. So, I open my Bible. It’s in those pages, in fact, that Lincoln found his famous words. Here is Jesus:
Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.
Matthew 12:25 (NIV)
Will we hear Him today? Will we hear Apostle Paul making the same argument to a young church in Colosse to stop their fighting — over doctrine, circumcision, this issue, that issue. Paul’s words, like the Lord’s and as with Lincoln’s, sound beautiful, raw, brave. “Rid yourselves,” Paul wrote, of “anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips” (Colossians 3:8).
Too hard to do? Paul was writing from prison, and his life would soon be taken. Jesus Himself would proceed Paul, dying once for all by the scourge of the cross. So, Paul was begging, pleading, beseeching divided people to turn not away but toward each other. Yes, stop fighting.
“Therefore,” Paul wrote, “as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” How? “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone” (Colossians 3:12-13).
This is Peacemaking 101. It means calling your neighbor whose campaign sign you tore up and saying you’re sorry. It’s accepting such an apology when it comes. It’s putting away our political hats, caps, lawn signs, and T-shirts and then visiting a church across town whose members aren’t white, Black, or whatever you are. It’s looking to Jesus not to politicians for direction and help to forgive the hurt this election has elevated.
“Forgive as the Lord forgave you,” Paul’s letter teaches. “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:13-14).
I could try to add to Paul’s words — try, as Lincoln did, to evoke the truth of the Bible. Try, on this day after, to stop watching angry people on talk radio and cable TV.
They’ve made their millions off of us, and now it’s our turn. We can now turn them off. Turn instead to mending fences. How?
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,” said Paul, “since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful” (Colossians 3:15). Indeed, counselors say turn off anger by taking deep breaths. Then reassess everything. What’s better? Staying angry and divided or start mending?
My humble suggestion is to mend. If that sounds right to you, then let us turn – on this day after – to neighbors and former friends. Then let’s reach across our broken fences and try this: love.Leave a Comment