I went to church this morning in search of the usual inspiration and fellowship and soul food.
It's funny, or maybe not - maybe it's destined, but it seems that whenever I show up at God's door in search of something specific, He gives me something altogether unexpected that turns out to be precisely what I need.
Today's sermon was titled, 'Feeling Stuck.' Our pastor's delivery is fraught with emotion, high, low, and wide. He takes his message from his tender heart and unfolds it with the gentle telling of personal parable or two, and the next thing you know, you are knee deep in grace.
Today's sermon reached a place in me that no amount of rationalization or consternation has been able to in the days since the election. I'm fairly certain my takeaway from the morning was not what Jay intended as he sat in contemplation over the carefully crafted homily he delivered, but God works in mysterious ways, you know. And God knows I have been feeling stuck of late.
Stuck in a state of confusion and dismay over the results of the election. Stuck in a state of despair over civil discourse's disrepair - and my own part in it. Stuck in a state of anger over the artifice and arrogance of the man poised to become the proverbial Leader of the Free World. Stuck in a state of deep dread and worry over the character of our next President.
He's an impetuous man-child. He's a bully. He's a narcissistic buffoon with an alarming scarcity of dignity. He's a man with many petty grudges, bent on revenge, incapable of detente.
I worry about the ease with which I can say those things about our incoming president. I worry about the disgust I feel toward him, and I worry, maybe more so, about my resentments toward those who would defend him. I know it's not healthy, nor is it productive. I've tried to step back, take a breath, and see the situation with clearer eyes, to practice a more open hearted discernment about the bigger picture.
But still, the dread will not abate.
Today, as I sat in the church that has been my second home for my entire life, I heard my pastor remind us that through life's challenges, large or small, whenever we are feeling stuck, we can always count on our foundational beliefs to keep us composed.
Our foundational beliefs.
That's when it hit me. That's when I understood what it is, precisely, that disturbs me so greatly about the reality of Donald J. Trump as President of the United States of America.
In my lifetime, there have been ten men who have held the office of President. Not all of them shared my political perspectives, but I never felt afraid for them to lead our country. Despite vehement ideological disagreement, I never felt they had anything less than the country's best interest in their hearts.
I believed they had strength of character and I believed that they believed in something greater than themselves.
I believed they had foundational beliefs to keep them composed.
I don't believe that about Donald Trump. He doesn't even have a consistent ideology, much less a solid foundational belief. There has not been one shred of evidence that his belief system extends beyond the thinness of his own skin. There has been no defining moment of clarity, of humility, of civility, even. To the contrary, there have been countless displays of a lack of moral compass or guiding light. He shows us, every single day, his temerity and insolence and gall, his utter inability to pause and reflect.
He shows us, every day, in a blustery huff, that he has no foundational beliefs to keep him composed.
It's that failure of character, of higher purpose, of courage of conviction in something greater than himself that fills me with dread and causes me to lose sleep at night.
The foreboding apprehension sits in my gut and weighs on my mind.
I am, to put it mildly, feeling stuck.
But I am going to take the words I heard today to heart.
I am going to turn to my foundational beliefs to help me regain my composure. I'm going to place my worries on the rock of my faith, and move forward in search of grace and mercy. I'm going to live my life in keeping with the values I hold dear.
I am going to listen. Intently. Purposefully. Compassionately.
And I am going to pray, like I've never prayed before, starting here...
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
*Title quote borrowed from Ralph Waldo Emerson.