By Jonathan David Faulkner
As far as Trump’s election goes, I am angry, I am hurt and I am scared. I am a disabled American who has many, many friends who are immigrants or who are part of the LGBTQ community. I have sisters and I have female friends and a fiancé all of whom I love and most of whom are terrified. I have watched the news, I have watched my newsfeed. I have watched the hatred and vitriol breed more and more hatred and vitriol until it has mushroomed into the taking over my Facebook Newsfeed. There is so much uncertainty playing out before us, so much that is unknown about the future.
Through it all I have tried to be a positive voice among all the negative ones. I have tried to listen to and feel the pain of both sides. Two groups of people who are hurting one from being ignored for so long, one because of fear and because certain ones who won have treated them in a horrifying and repugnant manner, both want to have their voices heard and both should. Suicides have doubled, violence has surged through the roof and brother has turned on brother. It is a mess.
It has been a hard week for me, there has been so much to process and so much to think about. How do I respond? How do I deal with the turmoil within me? Where do I find comfort? Do I allow myself to descend into the hopelessness around me or do my best to stay positive? How do I react?
Last Spring, during Lent, I began to pray the Psalms, five times a day, five days a week. I work through them in about 34 days. Tuesday I had reached the Sixties which is a series of Psalms of Lament that all end in the victory of the Lord. These were gentle reminders, deep whispers of hope in the middle of my turbulent soul. They were like fresh waters to calm the feelings of disenfranchisement from the party that had represented me for two decades and from the Evangelicalism that nurtured and brought me to reformed faith. I could have said choice words to both sides and have wanted to and been stopped by that flood of peace that comes as I open the Psalms and pray.
This practice, that and my long morning prayer and readings in scripture, currently Job and 2nd Timothy have largely kept me safe in these turbulent times. That does not make me better than anyone, it only means I have found a coping method that gives me hope and allows me to channel my anger into something constructive, not destructive.
Because I am angry, I want to rant and rave and make broad sweeping statements about both sides and spread the same hatred and vitriol that is filling my news feed. I want to spit fire, to be angry, to be mad. But what good is that going to do for me? What good is that going to do for my brothers and sisters if I put down those who I am against? How is being against anyone going to ever change the heart of that person?
Hate only begets more hatred.
I don’t want to want to contribute to more hate…I do not want to hate.
Yesterday I reached out to some of my liberal and LGBTQ + friends who are hurting and scared. Today I chose not to hate, but to be a light of hope, a beacon for love. We do not have to tear down the ones whom we disagree with. We can acknowledge the pain of others and meet them where they are at. Just because I disagree with them, does not mean I hate another person. That is a fallacy. Yes, I disagree with them, but that does not mean I should separate myself from anyone regardless of who they voted for or what they believe or how they live. I can love someone, be hope for someone who I disagree with. I can listen to the hurting and be a friend to those whom I disagree with.
That goes for anyone is who is hurting. The ones who had not had their voices heard for eight years and the ones who are afraid of their personal futures. Each group actually has good reasons to be angry at either the establishment or the election results. Anger is legitimate, especially here.
Scripture even legitimizes Anger: “Be angry and do not sin, do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Eph 4:26). It is okay to be angry, but as the rest of the line tells us, it is what we do with that anger that is important. Do we allow anger to turn to hatred? Scripture also tells us that “Anyone who hates his brother is guilty of murder” (Mt 5:22, 1 Jh 3:15, 4:20). We are not meant to hate one another, we are allowed to be angry. Indeed, injustices before us should make us angry, should drive us to desire change, but we should not allow that anger to turn to hatred.
I chose not to hate, I chose not to turn this into a “Me Against them” issue because I do not want to alienate those who are hurting. I want to be a beacon of light and hope in such a dark and turbulent time. I want to reinforce the faith of my brothers and sisters, not destroy it.
Oh brothers and sisters, shall we hate each other? Shall we allow such divisions to endure among ourselves we have lost the fight. If we think it is justified to be bitter towards a group of people, some of who are responding from a place of their own pain. How will we ever close the great divide before us. Both in the Church and in the society as a whole.
This one’s on us Church, how we respond will define us for all time.
Jonathan David Faulkner is a student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Pastor, Musician and Writer. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Education & Administration with a concentration in Urban Ministry