I’ve been struck by how many people have shared their fear about the future of our country because of the disruptive – and truly disconcerting – nature of this election. For most of it I have felt like the choice was between a venomous snake or a wolf in sheep’s clothing – figuring either way, it wasn’t going to come out very well. I have read so many articles, talked with wise people, and prayed for direction. However, through the entire process, I have not been afraid, partly because I’ve been around long enough to live through a few other “apocalyptic” political scenarios and partly because I have never put my ultimate trust in politicians or the political system. And then a couple of things happened that really put things in perspective…make that bold relief!
Last night, I attended a presentation by two wonderful young men from the Tavriski Christian Institute in Kherson, Ukraine. (Those of us there considered it a way to be distracted from watching election return news.) I’ve been privileged to be connected to TCI from the beginning and marvel at all they have accomplished in their short 20 years. I took my choir over there just as it was beginning and have returned to teach there, as well. I am always both inspired and chastened. They do so much with so little and with the most amazing joy! Their lives have been rocked by political, social, and personal hardship and tragedy that most of us will never know. They are in the midst of a cruel and capricious war that is right at their front door. They are located at the southern border of Ukraine – near the border with Crimea– and this latest mess has significantly affected them. They told story after story of losses and heartache, but every story was finished with a ray of hope and their continued commitment to help their people. Not once did I hear whining or fear in their stories. Their commitment was to take a bad situation and do what they could in their little corner to make it better. They’ve never had a government to depend on or to bail them out. They have always known that if things were going to change, they would have to roll up their sleeves and do the work. Listening to them share, I felt small and spoiled and a little ashamed…our present political turmoil is definitely a “first world” problem compared to theirs and we just need to get over ourselves and get ready to roll up our own sleeves. There’s certainly work to do.
Just before that meeting started, however, I heard from our youngest son that he and his wife were on the way to the hospital to deliver their first child…2 ½ weeks early. She was leaking amniotic fluid and they were going to induce labor. I knew it was going to be a long night, but things would probably be fine. After the meeting, I checked in and there wasn’t much news. So, I got in my car to go home and was STUNNED at the election news! What was happening? How could everyone have missed this SO badly? Before I got too lost in that, I checked in again with Mark and things were going slowly. We talked a little while and I did my “mom thing” and offered encouragement and support, and the election started to fade again. By 6:30 a.m. things were moving faster and the delivery of my sixth grandchild was imminent.
This morning lots of people in our country were dismayed and afraid. I was holding little Rylee Nikole Ahlberg and watching her beaming parents. As flawed as our country is – how could it be other; it’s run by flawed people – I am filled with hope. Not because of what the election has wrought, but because my hope is in something much more transcending. Brave and selfless Ukrainians and a newborn granddaughter have given me a little perspective. I’ve been singing that little chorus: “Why so downcast, oh my soul? Put your hope in God and bless the Lord, oh my soul.” May I suggest that you sit down for a minute and read Psalm 42 and Psalm 46? They will be good for your soul. And then start thinking of something you can do to make things better in your little corner of the world. Little Rylee is a new citizen of the United States of America. But more than that, she is a child of God. So are you and there’s work to be done…His work. We certainly don’t need to be Pollyannas in our present scenario, but let’s get up and take off the sackcloth and ashes, wash our faces, roll up our sleeves and ask this question: What will WE do to make a difference?