hope for the election (when we really want to lay on the floor and weep)

There are only about 40 days left until the United States of America elects a new president.  Tonight is the first presidential debate and it’s sure to spark all kinds of media soundbites that will stir up an even greater frenzy.

It’s bad out here, people.

Tensions are high.

People are scared. Confused. Angry. Sad. Worn out and exhausted by media-overload.

There is a lot to be stirred up about: The polarization, the ugliness on both sides, the widening divides, the anger, the fear.

But I will say, as much as I am deeply troubled by the Trump travesty and the reality of this much division, there’s another part of me that is relieved.

Thanks to this election cycle, the depths of our racism, classism, sexism and addiction-to-power-and-might is out more freely.

A hidden truth has boiled to the surface.

We can’t deny it any longer.

And here’s what I truly believe about the outcome of November 8th: No matter who gets elected on that day, there is Hope.

Yeah, as much as I am distressed about the current state of politics and religion in this country, I am also encouraged.

Because it’s about time we woke up and started participating in change and not expecting our politicians or leaders to do it for us.

It’s about time we got out of our houses and off our butts and started showing up in the streets with signs and passion for change.

It’s about time we cared about the people who need us to care about them because the systems of this world are tilted agains them.

It’s about time we broke ranks with the group-think in a lot of our churches and listened to the deep call in our heart toward the Kingdom of God called us to be part of creating.

It’s about time we started putting our money, our time, our hands, and our feet where our mouth is.

Yeah, right now is a time to turn our despair into action.

No matter who gets elected, Hilary Clinton or Donald Trump, the divides aren’t going away anytime soon. In fact, they are sure to widen and become even worse.

That’s okay because no matter who gets elected, we, The People, have a job to do. And I truly believe a lot of men and women and children of all ages are up for the task.

There are countless things we can do, we will do, we must do, God is calling us to do.

Here’s what it starts with: Opening our eyes to what’s already right in front of us and we may not have even noticed because we’ve been looking at our Facebook feed, despairing. We can log out and begin to pray and wonder and ask:

Who needs our love?

Who needs our time?

Who needs our care?

Who needs our advocacy?

Who needs our presence?

Who needs our financial support, no matter how small? 

These questions aren’t because we’re so amazing and we’re going to save the world by ourselves. It’s because there’s incredible pain & struggle all around us and often we don’t even know it until we start to slow down, to listen, to look, to ask, to wonder.

Then, there are all kinds of ways we can be bearers of light, of hope, healing, reconciliation, peace, change, mercy, Jesus’ love.

We can:

  1. Love our neighbor. Someone’s right next to us, right in front of us, right behind us who could probably use a little love. (Bonus points if that someone voted for a different candidate).
  2. Call a local organization or ministry (outside of our own church) and ask how we can support them. What do they need? How can we volunteer?  How could we mobilize others we know to support their work?
  3. Show up at local rallies and support protests and actions we resonate with (even when we feel nervous or awkward). They matter. They change us. They help us see. They force city leaders to listen. They help us learn to follow those on the margins instead of always leading.
  4. Mobilize forces within our faith communities to help others. Usually, small in-the-trenches-low-budget organizations & ministries & schools are struggling with too many needs and not enough resources. If every small group or Bible study or Sunday School class in a community got involved in what was already happening in their city, there would be far less unmet needs. Stir the pot in your groups and classes and bring stories that help people contribute.
  5. Get involved in local government. We have more influence than we think. There are many ways to show up–at City Council meetings, at Lobby days, writing letters, making phone calls.  We can use our citizenship for good and help advocate against unjust laws.
  6. Restore dignity where it’s been lost. Help someone see their value. Call out what’s underneath the rubble so God’s image can burst through.

What else would you add?

This also doesn’t mean we’re supposed to light the candle at both ends or “work our way to God” or burn out on helping or activism. We all have to sort out our own individual calling and pace and passion and ways to contribute.

But I feel clear on this–sitting in our houses despairing won’t help. Sitting in our churches facing forward won’t help. Waiting until 2020 won’t help.

Yeah, it’s our time to reflect God’s love like never before, with actions, with presence, with a beautiful hope that we are not governed by the rulers of this world but by a God who asks us to participate in creating heaven on earth here, now. 

It may not feel like it, but there is so much hope beyond this election.

When the polling booths are broken down and the sun rises on November 9th with God still God and us still us–there’s a lot we truly can do.

Let’s keep moving (and I’m not talking about to Canada).

The hope of the afflicted shall never perish.

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Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar is dedicated to creating safe and brave spaces for transformation and healing in real life, online, and outside. She co-pastors at The Refuge, a hub for healing community, social action, and creative collaboration in North Denver, co-directs #communityheals, a non-profit organization dedicated to making spaces for transformation accessible for all, and is the author of Practicing: Changing Yourself to Change the World, Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

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