Tuesday, November 8, 2016 the world came to an end! Christ returned and God’s wrath is being visited upon all of us! The Russians are coming!  We elected satan!  No, no, no, no!

None of those things are true, not even close! But, why am I afraid? Why do I have trouble breathing at times and why do those feelings crowd my life first thing each morning? Why do I feel like I lost a loved one? Is this what grief feels like?  Is that what I am feeling? Yes, it is a form of grief!

In June, 2016, I posted an essay on this blog entitled “A Grief Experienced” in which I said:  “Grief.  It’s just a word…until it is not just a word, when it moves from being a noun to being a verb. Until it is a huge something that fills your life, that sits squarely on your chest like an invisible weight.”  

Can you relate to that? Following the election have you felt that way, bothered by a huge, ugly something that now fills your life?  For me, at times it does feel like a heavy weight, right here on my chest. We weren’t prepared for what might happen and then it happened. What we thought would be the future, now requires a reset! A reset that for many of us feels like a bad dream.

I know what grief is. I have been there at the loss of my beloved wife and I know the feeling. Now here it is again, familiar, almost the same discomfort, some of the same sense of loss. There is one difference, however, along with those feelings comes a disquieting sense of helpless, even fear. We want to strike out, but to what, or to whom?

Thanksgiving?! What, pray tell, do we have to be thankful for?  Our world just changed.  But wait. What DO we have to be thankful for? Maybe…everything? No! Not everything! Yes, everything, the good, the bad and the ugly, we’ve had it all and we learned, and we should be thankful for all we have learned. All the ugly and bad sides of our country that we had to learn about, to witness. Some lessons are hard, hard to hear about, hard to deal with, hard for us to realize they are of our own making. We contributed to the environment that produced this end.

So, what did you learn from this? Did you learn about the plight of whole families living in poverty, just down the street, on the other side of your town, and what we must do to correct this. Did you learn that the way you worship God can bring violence, disdain, disrespect upon you, even bar you from your own country? Did you find that offensive?  Yes? Good! We must take steps to change that, too.

Did you learn that discrimination based on religion, race or gender, vividly represented, is more than unfair, it is un American, it is un Christian, it lacks humanity! And did you learn that whom you love can be illegal, shameful even sinful in some states? Is that right?  How could that be right? It isn’t right!

What about lying? Lying is an admission of weakness, and we have heard our share and we should be done with it! As we move forward, and we will, we must call out the liars and counter what they say.  We must hold our leaders responsible for EVERYTHING they say, and every promise they make.  We must do this aggressively and consistently, but with calmness and without violence.

We have seen this panoply of evil play out before our very eyes, in vivid color and uncensored and thoughtless word. Why do we stand for that? The simple answer is “we don’t”. We cannot allow all this to happen.  We must call it out, join in the fight, stand up for those who can’t stand, and be advocates for those who are helpless. That is US, you and me, using our voice, using our hands, using our resources and being there.

Anxiety and stress rob us of peace. Too often our anxiety or stresses come from fear or a sense that we have no resources to handle those matters or issues that are there before us. But we are together.  We are a nation, built on blood and the lives of patriots.  We are a nation under God. We can do this.

But, you ask, where is the thankfulness part in all of these examples?  There is a Hebrew word “Shema” that means a special kind of hearing, to really hear and then actively apply. Shema implies that we listen and do something, to heal a wound, to correct a problem, to reach out, to not tolerate evil, in its many forms. The thankful part is like that. To identify the wrong, to know what hurts my neighbor, is to know what must be corrected and then do it, and know we have a nation behind us! Better yet, to know we have God behind us. This is the lesson we must learn.

The election of 2016 may be just the catalyst we needed to pull us, force us, together as a nation. I know it seems painful, weird and so not right, but keep your faith, be smart, give this time.

I leave you with two thoughts: Intelligence is a gift, ignorance is a choice. Use our gifts! And then there is this — “Never measure God’s unlimited power by our limited expectations”!

So, what are you thankful for?  Think about it and be grateful.

For What It’s Worth.

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