A Prayer for the Day After Election Day
God of parables and proverbs, today I am struggling with the tension between your stories and your sayings. Both give me guidance on this day after Election Day, but neither give me peace.
When someone asks Jesus who their neighbor is, Jesus responds with a story about a man beaten, robbed, and left for dead on a dangerous road, and two stereotypically virtuous public servants passing him by, when, finally, an unlikely someone stops to care for the helpless stranger. Then Jesus turns the question around, asking his listeners who was more of a neighbor to the person in need. Of course, it was the man who stopped to help, regardless of the threatening consequences that might befall him in doing so. Then, Jesus instructs his listeners, then and now, to go and do likewise: Stop asking who your neighbor is; go and be one.
I appreciate Jesus flipping our questions on their head, Holy One, but today my spirit chafes against the Savior’s wisdom. As I pull up campaign signs from my yard, there are people looking through their blinds, watching me as they drive by, and smirking at my losses, gloating that some things didn’t go my way. Feeling defeated, my bitterness tempts me to do the same to others pulling up their signs of their candidates who lost. I know that as surely as violence begets violence that resentment and hostility breed resentment and hostility, but logic fails me today, O God. How can I be a neighbor when my aching heart just wants to rage?
How can I be a neighbor to all when my community is mixed with people, some of whom voted in ways that help the least of these in our midst, and some of whom voted in ways that will hinder or even harm the most helpless among us? How can I be a neighbor to all when I can’t differentiate between those who cast a ballot for help or harm, for building up for the sake of the whole or tearing down for the sake of self-preservation? How can I be a neighbor to all when we are a society of cognitive dissonance, setting aside the power of parables for the persuasion of political ideology without considering the hypocrisy in that? How can I be a neighbor to all when I’m unsure of myself; unsure whether I am participating in the unique privilege of democracy with the self-sacrificial love demonstrated by the Storyteller or with blind allegiance to those loud ideologies that are unwaveringly convinced that they are right?
I want to abide by the guidance of Jesus’ parable, but my heart aches for those who feel less safe and more overlooked today than they did yesterday, and it rages against not only any election results that are adding to their legitimate feelings and realities, but against my own complicity in public narratives and policies that led to those results. You have searched me and you know me, O God, so you know that I’m challenged to be a neighbor this day after Election Day because I am far too frustrated with the results that didn’t go my way, far too pleased with the ones that did, and unsure of whether I am right. Being a neighbor in the mire of this anxious insecurity seems impossible.
But with you, God of the ages, all things are possible. I pray, then, that you would remind me of your desire for justice and peace driven by a limitless love that supersedes all elections and the shifting powers resulting from them. I pray that your wisdom would equip me to live out an essential parable by turning me in renewed faith to an essential proverb: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). Help me to stand in this tension between a story’s instruction to be a neighbor and a saying’s counsel to trust your guidance that transcends my best logic. Catch me in my anxious scurrying this day so that I would be devoted anew to the joy and the cost of discipleship with Jesus that is not about winning or losing elections, but about ushering in more of your kin-dom of justice, mercy, compassion, peace, and love above all else on earth as it is in heaven. O God, reassure me today that when all flesh see that kingdom of kinship and neighborly care with unified vision that elections results will have no sway over the extent to which we treat one another with grace and goodness. Guide me in the pursuit of that result more than any other, Creator of All Good Things, and then all will be well and be well and be well. Then peace will find me. This is my prayer today, tomorrow, and always. Amen.