Hey there, self, back again? What was it this time? You know what, nevermind – you came here to get your thoughts straight on these election results and to feel like yourself again.
So take a deep breath and let’s start this 4-step rundown. You know how this goes.
First, the starting block. Step #1.
Accept reality (as many times as you need to).
Let’s say/think it together: Donald Trump is the president-elect. He won. It was a pretty rough election, and kind of hard to tell exactly what was fair and what was square by the end of it. But he definitely won. And he is definitely the president-elect.
That’s not going to change, so take the time you need to wrap your head around it. Hours, days, months, whatever. That’s fine. Keep trying. You don’t have to rush this. Some losses are harder than others. This is a tough one. It’s OK to grapple.
Remember, this is what A LOT of people wanted. All of those people you encouraged to get out to vote, to celebrate their hard-won civic duty? A LOT of those people voted for Trump. Would you ever encourage them NOT to vote? Of course not. People felt disenfranchised and frustrated, and used this election to say so.
Speaking of other people, that brings us to step #2 in your make-shift coping strategy here.
Think about your neighbor. Not your theoretical, Biblical neighbor – your literal neighbor, next door. Like in her own house 20 feet from you. She voted for Trump, and she also happens to be awesome. You would be proud to raise your family the way she is raising hers. You guys actually have a lot in common.
She is super reasonable, and funny, and realistic, and has helped you out so many times. If she represents a large portion of DT voters, take heart, sweet self. (When you’re feeling less shaken, you can take that “sweet” out, but we’re starting gentle here).
Ok, feeling like you’re starting to get your footing? On to step #3.
Hear me on this. You HAVE to handle this election loss the way you would have implored others to if HRC won.
Girl, I know this is a bitter pill; humility is poetic in words but a beast in reality. Let it wrestle down that pride and show you how unwelcome your consoling words would seem to someone dealing with real disappointment. Someone taking it personally. Now you are the one who needs to put them into action. Don’t let this lesson pass you by, or you’ll cheapen the loss.
Let’s be honest here, self – this feels like a huge blow, but speaking up has been hard. We haven’t quite figured out how to balance strength and grace. I honestly don’t know that we will. So keep doing what you’ve been doing – running unabashedly at both and do the best you can.
Watch where you tread, though, because you know this: bitterness is quicksand; it will swallow you and it will swallow the words you use to speak to others. They won’t be heard. They won’t give life or peace. Avoid it at all cost.
You mom (she’s just the best, isn’t she?) was right to send you Colossians 4:5-6 for encouragement:
Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.
Or, if you are feeling Message-y today, (’cause I know sometimes you are):
Use your heads as you live and work among outsiders. Don’t miss a trick. Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.
Bring out the best in others. Others on both sides of the ticket, on both sides of the aisle. Others of different skin tones and faiths and life choices. Others of the same skin tones and faiths and life choices.
Remember that parenting phrase that helped you through tons of 3-year-old tantrums without turning into a blubbering heap yourself? RESPOND; DON’T REACT. Stop reacting. Get your head together and respond – as needed. And truthfully? It’s not always needed.
Which leads us to Step #4. Our final step from what we have figured out thus far, self.
Maybe you need a minute to stop worrying about responding OR reacting. You don’t always have to be in the conversation. Some people do, either via job or personality, but you don’t. Step out of the proverbial room and go outside for some proverbial fresh air.
Close the apps, turn off the screen, mute the volume and look up. Look at your children’s beautiful, messy, sweet faces staring expectantly and asking you to watch them do some sort of swingset trick for the billionth time and somewhat-endearingly challenging every single thing you say. Those rascals need you, and they’re watching how you handle this.
Go out in the sunlight. Engage in all of the small yes’s and no’s that make an impact to the people around you. Be really kind. Like your friend Christen said: go out of your way to help others and intentionally try to be “one less jerk” in the world.
When you feel like yourself again, when you feel like you have something constructive to say, step back in. But it’s your choice – you don’t have to leave the party to take a break from the conversation. You can always take a mental walk to the punch bowl.
Ok, feel a little better? Good. If not, go find some chocolate. That always helps. It’s hidden towards the back of the top shelf near the fridge.
My dear self, the world needs you to be exactly the person God made you to be. Never apologize for who you are. Hold your head and maintain your dignity. Your empathy is not a weakness, it’s your gift. Use it well.
Listen with open mind. Think it through. Speak bravely and honestly, but always constructively. Repeat.
You got this.