Have you felt an increased sense of bitterness, fear and chaos in the world since the presidential election really heated up a year ago?
I see it in the news stories, in my social media feed, on bumper stickers and in the midst of regular conversations. Confusion and fear are rampant, especially with the controversy over several of our president's executive orders. Regardless of which side of the political aisle you may fall - or whether you identify with a party at all! - this has dominated the national conversation.
How should we respond?
With grace + curiosity.
It feels like the president has a lot of power. But in reality? We are the ones shaping our families, communities, and world. We can create a culture of kindness, sensitivity and hospitality in our spheres of influence, whether that's the high school cafeteria, your office, or among the neighbor kids.
There is a lot of fear in our world today. And that fear builds walls. It's so easy to dehumanize someone we don't understand, to make them a two-dimensional caricature of their beliefs. But do we know why they believe that? Are you sure that they even actually believe that?
Grace recognizes that emotions and opinions are valid, even if we disagree with them. Grace embraces the other. And curiosity tears down that us vs. them barrier. It pushes us into conversations and thoughtful questions.
What is their story? Why is this important to them? More importantly, who are they outside of their political leanings?
Fear causes arguments, threats, and desperation. But we don't need to give into that fear. Through Christ, we have the power to offer hope and kindness, grace and curiosity.
As Switchfoot sings, "Is this the world you want? You're making it, every day you're alive."
And you are. You're shaping your world, right now, today.
Political issues are nuanced. There's no black and white. There are only people and stories, hurts and hopes and dreams. And when we listen, ask questions, and love anyway - that's when Jesus shows up.