We were on our way to church yesterday morning. Getting four kids out the door ready for church is always a challenge. So, by the time we got in the car, we were a little frazzled.
We’re about halfway there, and my second daughter said out of the blue: “Hey, Daddy, can you check my head for lice?” Joe and I both looked at each other a little perplexed. He asked: “Wow, sweetie, why would you ask that?” “Well, my head itches.” Clutching the wheel, trying to stay on the road, despite his hidden front seat laughter, Joe inquired: “Princess, when was the last time you took a bath?” There was a long silence from the backseat. She finally looked up and said she did not remember. “Well, sweetie, maybe that's the problem!” She thought about it a few minutes and then said, “No, that’s not it; I definitely have lice.” It’s all about perspective.
We headed into church, “lice and all,” and I was intrigued by the sermon. I mentioned before that our pastor is doing a series entitled "Headline Hope." He proceeded to give a great civics lesson concerning the recent election, and his experience over the last 40 years of folks waking up on Wednesday morning after the presidential election and being overwhelmed with relief or grief. I was reminded that in 2000, George W. Bush won the presidency but Al Gore won the popular vote. This was the 5th time in American history this has happened. I actually remember the 2000 election and the disgruntled masses. Many, however, don’t.
How you responded to the election was all about perspective as well. I had several encounters this week with people who were completely forlorn and devastated over the election. I heard comments suggesting that the election was all about racism and about how all rural, white people were racist. I deeply pondered that comment, and I was saddened. I grew up in rural North Carolina. I don't remember flagrant racism growing up, . . . but maybe I was just ignorant. I don't think I'm racist. And I don't think my family is either. My husband and I have adopted two children who are not Caucasian. They're mixed race. Our families in that rural community have welcomed my adopted kids with open arms. I can't imagine they love them any less than they would if they were white. They are not racist. They’re just poor.
Many of them are hard-working, blue collar laborers. In my formative years, that area was a thriving economy of furniture and textile industries. My own father worked in a furniture factory for 18 years. Over a period of 15-20 years, the factories closed, the manufacturing equipment was shipped overseas, and the skilled laborers lost their jobs. The factories are now ghost towns. By 2010, the unemployment rate in my home county was 17%. I go back to that area frequently, and there are many boarded storefronts, foreclosure signs and abandoned properties. We bought some property there a few years ago. Ironically, we bought the property from a family who had to sell it to pay their medical bills. This election for them was about a rejection of their economic downward spiral over the last 8 years.
Like the family from whom we bought property, I encountered another irate patient this week who voted out of his healthcare plight. For 15 minutes, I listened to this patient railing about his struggle to get his diabetic supplies. He's a poorly controlled diabetic who has been diagnosed in the last 6 years. His healthcare costs have skyrocketed, and he’s mad. His voting choices had nothing to do with racism but everything to do with healthcare costs. It's all about perspective.
I mentioned a few weeks ago that I had little enthusiasm for either candidate. I still don't. But I think the selectionthe passionate responses about this election, as with all elections, have to do with your perspective.
As I pondered these reactions to the election yesterday afternoon, I prepared to host my older daughter’s small group from church. While I ran to the store, I instructed my daughter to make brownies. She is not a cook, but I thought she could read the instructions and handle the task. When I came home, I noticed the distinct smell of burning chocolate. Since there were still several minutes left on the timer, I decided to peek into the oven. I realized that she had indeed made the brownies, but she used a cookie sheet instead of a 9x13 inch pan. Needless to say, we had brownie brittle! Unfortunately, I did not respond with a “Botox brow” (see previous blog post) and “lost it” with my daughter. It was not a great parenting moment for me. Sadly, she melted into tears as I insisted she remake the brownies. Into this chaos, my mother (her grandmother) arrived at the house. She scooped up one of the brownie pancakes and exclaimed this was the best brownie she had ever eaten! All about perspective!
So, what have I learned this week? We need to have grace with each other, whether over taking a bath (or not), making brownies unconventionally, or voting in ways that we don’t like.
“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:8-9
“Do no judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37
God gives us this grace. We, who call ourselves believers, should lavish it on others. We may not always have the same perspective. But, we can be sympathetic and compassionate. I still have a lot to learn!
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