Happy Friday, y’all. I am having THE best day. It’s my day off, so I went to the gym, volunteered at my kids’ school for a couple hours; having a green smoothie and getting ready to give myself a facial and a manicure. FURTHERMORE, it is beautiful outside (even if it’s cold, the sunshine does a body good), I have zero church things to do tomorrow, and–get this–I’m not even preaching Sunday! I may even skip early service and just roll up for Sunday School and second service like a normal person. Is this how everyone else feels at the beginning of a legit weekend? If so, it is fabulous. And I clearly need to get out more.
So why in the world am I writing a blog post on the perfect day off? Because somebody made a comment on my post the other day that stuck in my brain like a piece of popcorn in your teeth that you just can’t quit thinking about until you can floss. So, writing this quick post is my way of flossing. Bear with me.
I wrote a Women’s Day statement against the evil darkness that is President Trump (per usual). Comment guy suggested that, now that Trump is in office, he will show integrity. He will be inspired by the weight of the position and–I kid you not–the pictures of George Washington in the hallways, and will step up to lead accordingly.
…Insert my bewildered emoticon right here…
I respond–as any sane person would–that power only makes a corrupt person more corrupt. The man has shown his true colors through decades of sexual harassment, racist rhetoric and a bullying approach to everything. All these things won him the election and effectively made him the most powerful dude in the world… so yeah, I’m not holding my breath that he’s going to decide to become a decent human being overnight.
(This is the abridged version of the conversation. I’m drawing it out a bit to make for a readable post).
So, after trying to hijack the discussion by demanding to know my stance on abortion–which is definitely not what the blog post was about, but whatev–comment guy said the following thing that has been the popcorn in my brain ever since: he says, and I quote, “I’m not finding a very hopeful Christian in you!”
And this is me flossing — I have plenty of hope. But absolutely NONE OF MY HOPE is rooted in Donald Trump. Zero. And if yours is, I feel sorry for you. You have been fooled by either your own blind optimism and refusal to recognize evil in the flesh; or else by a false gospel of niceness, manners and submission to authority at all costs.
I’m guessing it’s a combination of both. Lord knows that plenty of people suffer from both. But mercy, it is dangerous. Especially now. We are not called to put our faith in the institution. We are not called to worship Caesar. Our hope on a far greater promise.
Believe me, I’ve received far worse comments in nearly a decade (!) of blogging. I’ve gotten many comments not worthy of a response; some scary ones I’ve had to block and report; hateful and ugly ones that I left up just because it made the person commenting look so bad, I figured leaving it visible was a far worse punishment than any verbal shaming I could dish out. But this one bugged me in a different way, because it reveals one of the deepest flaws in our secularized faith, and one that I encounter with great frequency these days. Often from people I know. It’s this misguided idea that being a Christian means being happy and upbeat about everything; that we must be ‘nice’ at all costs (especially if we happen to be a woman with the gall to call herself a pastor); and that following Jesus means putting our hope and trust in human establishments.
This could not be farther from the actual gospel of Jesus. If your hope is in Donald Trump–or in any single person or system, for that matter–then you are going to be sorely disappointed. And you are probably going to be led pretty far astray from the path that Jesus walked.
To say someone doesn’t have hope because they are critical of the current administration–whether government, Church or otherwise–that is a misnomer as well. I have plenty of hope.
My hope is in many things, both tangible and unseen.
My hope is in my active faith community, and its shared commitment to address poverty, climate change, and all kinds of bigotry in our community and world.
My hope is in my kids’ wonderful elementary school, and the teachers who show up for children every single day, no matter how little support they get from their government.
My hope is in the wider Church and its global witness to the love and mercy of Christ.
My hope is in community organizers, social workers, mental health and medical professionals, and first responders–all of these people, in their own way, work within broken systems–but do their damnedest to keep us well.
My hope is in kids who do not know they’re supposed to hate each other yet.
My hope is in music and art and literature; in National Parks and scientists and environmentalists; in all those committed to the goodness of life and all that makes it beautiful.
And, at the risk of sounding passé, I will embrace the words of the Psalmist and say that my hope is in the Lord. My hope is in the many ways that God works through broken people and systems, without demanding that we endorse the brokenness; the many ways that God can overcome darkness, even when we just keep giving that darkness more power. My hope is in the mystery of things made new, and life under the surface, and all things working together for good.
My hope is in many people, places, and movements; but it is definitely not in the darkness. It is not in the hatred of women, or the shaming of the poor. My hope is not in divisive rhetoric that ends in small town violence, and my hope is not in more guns and a bigger military.
My help comes from the Lord. And so does my hope.
Where are you finding hope these days? I’d love to hear from you.
Carry on, folks. Thanks for letting me floss.