An Apology. An Invitation.

*This is the longest post I have ever written. I humbly ask that if you decide to read it, that you do so with an open heart and open mind. I woke up this morning unusually compelled to share my heart and my thoughts that are usually kept very private. Do not hesitate to message me if you would like clarification or disagree with anything written below.*

My news feed is flooded with thoughts, opinions, and emotions this morning. Some are celebrating, while others are despairing. Some are lashing out with hate, and others are speaking life and hope and determination. But the common thread that I see connecting many voices is fear. Fearful questions that don’t have good answers. “What do I do now?” “What do I tell my children?” “What does this mean for our future?”

The other type of fear (the peculiar type that compelled me to write this post) is fearful apologies. I am friends (in real life and on Facebook) with a wide, diverse array of people. I was privileged to attend a high school that celebrated and cherished a diverse student body. So this morning, I am reading the thoughts, opinions, and emotions of many that are different than me. I am reading fearful posts from my gay and transgender friends (LGBTQ+). I am reading fearful posts from Muslim friends and immigrant friends and African American friends. These fearful questions and thoughts are breaking my heart. But the posts that really caught my attention and got me thinking are the apologies. I have read countless posts from friends of all races, religions, and backgrounds that are apologizing to minorities. Apologizing for the election results. Apologizing on behalf of all Americans. And guys, I resonated with those feelings.

What I have to say is sparked in response to the election results, but it isn’t really ABOUT them. I have many close friends that voted for Mr.Trump, and I do not think any more or less of them for it. I have many close friends that voted for Mrs.Clinton, and I do not think any more or less of them for it either. So if you voted for Mr.Trump because you believed it was the right decision, and are now celebrating the outcome, this is not about you. This post is not targeted towards Trump voters or Hillary voters or third-party voters. What I have to say is not dependent on your political party or your vote, whether you cast one or not. What I have to say is targeted towards my friends that woke up today in fear. I’m taking a long time to get to my thoughts because I want to clarify my heart and intentions.

Friend, if you woke up today in fear or despair, I want to apologize. I am deeply sorry that you are fearful and hurting and despairing. I am battling with fear myself. I’m trying to comprehend the overwhelming fear and hurt that many who are different than me are feeling today. I want to stand with you in the midst of your fear and your pain. I am hurt, too, and I am sorry.

My main goal for writing this is not to apologize, but to extend an invitation. I want to extend an invitation to those who are living in fear, and share the hope that I have in the midst of this broken world. You might have seen a photo or post that says, “No matter who is president, Jesus is King.” And yeah, I believe that is true. But those words are not comforting to you if you don’t know Jesus. It doesn’t matter that Jesus is King if you don’t know anything about him. “Jesus is King” is not comforting if you have only seen him misrepresented in this world. I’m trying to read those posts from the eyes of my friends that don’t know Jesus. “Yeah, that’s great that you think ‘Jesus is King’, but there are real people living real lives here and now that are oppressed, marginalized, fearful, and hurting.” And friend, you are absolutely right. It doesn’t take much evidence to see and understand that our world doesn’t work right. Real people living real lives are still oppressed, still marginalized, and still hurting. Hateful speech and rhetoric find comfortable homes in the mouths of our neighbors, our friends, and even our leaders. It hurts. It doesn’t make sense. It feels hopeless. I get it. If you identify with those feelings at all, could I make a bold request? Can I ask that you take just a moment to consider what I have to say? I will be the first to admit that I have misrepresented Jesus. I have judged when I should have loved. I have been prideful when I should have been humble. I have spoken when I should have silently loved and I have stayed silent when I should have boldly proclaimed truth. I have misrepresented Jesus many times in my life, and I am deeply sorry about it. But as I get to know Jesus better, and seek desperately to understand his heart, I think that he gets it, too. I think that he understands your pain. Your hopelessness. The real, living Jesus. Not the Jesus you might have seen before. You might have encountered people that claim to follow Jesus acting in a way that only increases your hurt and your fear and your pain. I’ve been that person before.

But today, in the midst of great fear and pain and confusion, I want to offer you a glass of water. I want to offer you another story. I want to give you a glimpse of the real Jesus that I know, not his distorted reflection. Sharing the results of this election sounds like bad news. I had an upset stomach all evening as I watched things unfold. At the core of my heart and mind (and stomach), I hurt for my friends that are fearful under Mr.Trump’s leadership. I felt fear and confusion and pain. I felt like throwing up or crying, and was pretty close to doing so a few times. But friends, is this really new? Is this the first time you have felt fear or confusion or pain? I’d like to suggest that this election just resurfaced feelings and realities that were already there. Fear and hurt and pain are not new things. Mr.Trump did not invent them. I think he just brought them to the surface again for many. Fear and hurt and pain are part of our broken world. They are deeply engrained in our broken, sinful hearts. Jesus gets it. He knows hurt. He knows your pain. This world is full of bad news. But without bad news, there cannot be good news.

And friend, I would like to humbly ask that you consider the good news Jesus has to offer. The real Jesus. The Jesus that elevated women everywhere he went. The Jesus that I know, and the Jesus that I read about in the Bible treats women with great respect and dignity. If you are a woman and you are fearful today, consider Jesus. I’m reminded of the woman at the well (who you can read about in chapter 4 of the book of John) who Jesus treated in a radically respectful way, much to the dismay of his enemies. By his words and his actions, Jesus rejected the current cultural oppression of women, and elevated them to new heights with every interaction. Women were the first people Jesus appeared to after he was resurrected, even though the testimony of women at that time was considered worthless. Jesus valued the testimony of women, and uplifted them where the world only oppressed.

I’m reminded of the times that Jesus welcomed the outcast. If you feel outcast today, consider Jesus. The Jesus that touched a leper, who had been cast out from his home and deemed unclean. The Jesus that loved and forgave the woman caught in adultery, and saved her from those trying to kill her. The Jesus that instructed his followers to love their enemies, and care for orphans and widows. The Jesus that is not surprised by your mistakes or your sin or your brokenness, but welcomes you anyways. The Jesus that doesn’t care what the world sees when they look at you. The Jesus that only knows love.

Our country’s new leader boasts of building a wall to keep “outsiders” on the outside. But the Jesus that I know tore down the walls that once separated us from each other and from God. Instead of building walls that separated human from human, he tore down the walls of our sin and created a new kind of human that finds their identity in his family. Jesus came and preached peace to outsiders and peace to insiders. He treated us as equals, and so made us equals. He elevated women and children and immigrants and orphans and widows. He was an immigrant, himself! He welcomed outsiders into this new kingdom with no walls. We once were all foreigners, strangers without hope.

It doesn’t matter who you are or what our country says about who you are today- Jesus has invited you into a new kingdom! You are no longer an outsider or an exile or an outcast. “This kingdom of faith can be your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building.” (Ephesians 2:19-20). I read a post today that said, “I tried to love America, and it did not love me back.” This breaks my heart, because this is not the end of the story! Yes, you may be an American, but no matter what country you call home, you have been invited to be part of Jesus’ family. And no matter who you are, what you have done, or what other people have said about you, Jesus took the initiative to love you first. He loved you before you even knew about him. If even one person is still reading this, it is worth it to me to share this good news about Jesus! We are all different, but we are all united in our brokenness. We are all united in our great need for a new story, a new identity. Our hearts and our minds don’t work right. We are entrenched in fear and sin and despair. Not one of us is worthy of being accepted and forgiven by Jesus, but because of his initiative love for us, we are all welcomed into his kingdom. Being part of Jesus’ family changes lives for eternity, but it also changes lives here and now. As a Christian, I pray that God’s will would be done here on earth as it is in heaven. I pray that there would be justice for the oppressed, and freedom for all people. I pray that there would be freedom from fear and hurt and healing from all pain. I pray that there would be new life for the broken and that every human would know the real Jesus, who calls you beloved. This is the heart of God. I pray that my gay friends would know the love of Jesus. I pray that my immigrant friends would know the love of Jesus. I pray that my Muslim friends would know the love of Jesus. No matter what label society has given you, I pray that you would know and respond to the love of Jesus. I pray that Jesus may dwell in your heart through faith, so that you, being rooted and grounded in his love, may have strength to comprehend the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Jesus didn’t love us because we deserved it. If you feel undeserving of his love, seek out the real Jesus so that you may take part in the new story he has given you. As a Christian, I have committed to seeking justice for the marginalized and freedom for the oppressed because it is what Jesus has done for me. He has given me freedom from my sin. We would all love to have a leader that welcomed outsiders and frees the oppressed and stands up for the voiceless. Jesus is that person.  He is the only one capable of leading this way. He is not just my leader, he is my Lord. That is why I find comfort and hope in the midst of this broken world. Jesus is the Lord of my life and the King of my heart.

My determination in this mission to seek justice is not dependent on who sits in the Oval Office. I hope yours isn’t either. It never has been, and it never will be because I believe that Jesus’ transformative power is so much greater than any earthly cause. I hope that we can find unity in our need for a better leader, and follow Jesus together. He wants to be the Lord of your life, no matter who you are. We can trust him to be a good leader and King in our lives because he gave up his life for us. He lived a perfect and sinless life, and was crucified to pay the price for our sins. He took the identity that should have been ours, and gave us a new identity as spotless, innocent children of God. “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God! God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2nd Corinthians 5:16-21)

This is good news! He is the perfect King. The perfect Lord. The only one worth following. After all of these words, my only question is this. Do you know the real Jesus? He is the answer to despair. He is the answer to fear and confusion. So if you are hurting today, do not lose hope. Turn to Jesus, the one that knows your fear and your sin and welcomes you. Jesus is still King, and that is why I will not lose hope. He is why I fought for justice in the first place, and He is why I’ll continue to do so, undeterred by the temptation to despair.

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