For the past four years, I’ve been lurching back and forth between various cycles of grief. Shock. Denial. Anger. Rage. Depression. Acceptance. Denial. Anger. Depression. Rage. Pull the covers over my head. Acceptance. Denial . . .
I’ve spent four years trying to understand: trying to understand why too many of my fellow-Christians worship at the altar of a false god. Trying to understand why too many of my stubbornly independent neighbors give themselves over to an authoritarian wanna-be-dictator. Trying to understand why otherwise good-hearted people tolerate and even celebrate bad faith actors.
I really wanted this election to be a blowout for “my side”; I wanted a clarion call to equity, compassion and justice. Or I could live with a close win—even though we knew lawsuits and interminable delays would occur. But I did not want yet another reminder of the huge disconnect that stands between me and my neighbors.
I just don’t get it. I don’t get them. The spiraling grief dizzys me.
Then this morning it occurred to me that understanding is not one of the classic stages of grief. Healing through grieving, it seems, must happen without clear-cut understanding, without knowing the “whys.” Instead, healing acceptance must come right in the messy, muddled middle of not knowing; of not understanding why.
I don’t like that truth much. Something inside me keeps searching for explanations; looking for answers to the whys. “Is this part of the primal sin?” I wonder: not being able to stop seeking knowledge—be it good or evil. I don’t know.
I may never understand why some people think the way they think, why they act the way they do, why they are the way they are. But I need to let go of letting that affect me. Letting that infect me.
So I will grieve my nation unabashedly. I will mourn what needs to be mourned. I will be grateful for what is gratifying. I will look reality full in the face—as incomprehensible as it may be—and accept the inescapable incongruities of our bent and broken humanity.
But I will never give up doing whatever I can to call out unfairness and injustice—no matter how embedded those realities may be. I will never stop challenging the bullies and standing in the gap for the oppressed. I will never quit hoping – even as I grieve.
As I wait for election results and ponder the uncertain future of our nation, I’m thinking maybe now would be a good time for me to do a better job of living the prayer Reinhold Niebuhr taught us:
God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.