At the time of this writing, we are four days away from what many are calling the most important election in US history. I don’t know about that, but I think we can say with some certainty that it has been the most contentious of our lifetime. (I think many of us thought it couldn’t get any worse than 2016. We were super wrong.) This will be the sixth presidential election I’ve voted in, and as you may know, I’ll be voting differently than I ever have before. Differently than most members of my family and my church and my state. And I’m nervous. I’m not nervous about my vote, I feel confident about that. I’m nervous about November 4th.
I absolutely trust that God is always in control no matter who is in the White House. That doesn’t change the fact that the world can be an ugly place. If the last six months is any indication of how the US handles stress and conflict, I’d say that my anxiety over the November 4th world is pretty justified. As a family, we joked about finding some place to hole up for a week or so. Somewhere without internet so we could ignore anything that’s going on and emerge a week later when things may have calmed down and the presidential race is (hopefully) decided. Other friends have said similar things, although I don’t think they were joking. Friends (especially friends of color) are scared for what next week may hold. The funny thing (funny weird, not funny ha ha) is that people on both sides are scared of what the other side will do if their candidate loses.
We don’t know who will win, and we don’t know what the winning or losing side will do, but we can decide now what we will do. What we will say. Who we will be. Regardless of the outcome.
I’ve been talking/writing fervently and openly for months now about the imago Dei, about how every person is created in the image of God and therefore has inherent worth and dignity. I want to be a person who uses her words and actions to treat others like I believe that is true. That includes the opponent and anyone who votes for him. There are bound to be a lot of emotions next week, whether your candidate wins or loses. It’s completely okay and wise to feel those feelings and process them. But let’s not let those emotions determine who we become in those days.
One of my favorite Bible verses is Ephesians 4:29, I especially love the God’s Word translation: “Don’t say anything that would hurt another person. Instead, speak only what is good so that you can give help wherever it is needed. That way, what you say will help those who hear you.” I’m deciding now that my words on November 4th will be helpful and good, not harmful. I mean, I hope my words are always like that; I literally have a tattoo on my body to remind me that I’m called to be salt and light. But I know sometimes I fail, and if ever there was a day that calls for it, it’s November 4th.
Especially in a time when keyboard courage has empowered us to say things we would never say to someone’s face, we must be careful and cognizant of the lasting impact our words have, aware of their creative and destructive power. In the words of a favorite song of mine, “Words can build you up, words can tear you down, start a fire in your heart or put it out.” We need to treat words as the potent force they are and choose wisely.
Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.Proverbs 16:24 ESV
I think we could all agree that we could use some sweetness for our soul and health for our body right about now. Let’s make a commitment to graciousness for November 4th. And let’s get a head start today.