As all of America responded, there was only one word I could say.

I fell asleep before the final results came in.

But I already knew which candidate was going to be the next President of the United States.

I woke up this morning and let it sink in. I scrolled through my social media and didn’t move for a long time. I finally crawled out of bed and slowly went to sit on my couch. I sat for a long time in silence.

Finally, one word came from my mouth as I began to weep.

“Father,”

This morning as America responded, that was the only word I could say.

I knew from the beginning I would be disappointed with either candidate having a victory. I have already spent months grieving both a President Trump or a President Clinton.

So, I did not cry this morning because of the results.

I cried this morning because many of my Christian friends called this election a victory for the church. I cried for the endless posts that said “God heard His people’s prayers”.

I cried because what they told the world was that God didn’t hear or honor the prayers of those who did not vote for Trump and that they are not His people.

Whether they meant that or not, this morning, that was what many heard.

I wept for the women in my life who are in an identity crisis. For the women who think Clinton was a role model. I wept for the women who believe their suspicions were confirmed: that they have to fight dirty in order to succeed and that even then, they will lose.

I wept for those who woke up with a smirk on their face and prideful words on their tongue because their candidate won. I wept because many of them believe God has put his stamp of approval on this man’s anger and immorality.

I wept because though I understand a sigh of relief from those who were afraid for a Hillary presidency, I cringe at their exaltation of a Trump one. I wept because many of my friends said it “bothered them to vote for him and they were doing it hesitantly, but he seemed a better option.” I wept because when they rubbed it in people’s noses this morning, it did not seem that it was hard or that it bothered them at all.

I wept because “How we walk with the broken speaks louder than how we sit with the great.” (Bill Bennot)

I wept for the way that many of my Christian friends chose to walk with the broken this morning.

I wept because as a person who voted third party, I was condemned, criticized, mocked, rebuked, scorned, and belittled. I wept because I cannot even fathom what people on the other side have endured and will endure. I wept because many of these are people who claim to operate under a law of love and a Gospel of peace.

My heart broke at those who sincerely asked Christians, “How do you explain this to your minority, Muslim, LGTBQ, and disabled friends?”  I wept because I know that many of the Christians I know do not have those kinds of friends.

Later, as I ran to get coffee, I found myself weeping again in the car. But this time, I wept because the barista told me that he liked my shirt that says PRAY. I wept because we are different genders, different races, and together we looked at one another in the eye and agreed that more than anything in these times, we need to PRAY.

I wept because God pulled me close and told me that He heard and hears my prayers. I am not a Trump voter, but I am His people and He heard and hears my prayers, too. 

I wept because though I am broken, I am thankful my hope was never in either of these candidates. I wept because I am thankful that I stood my ground. I wept as I told God that even though I was mocked, condemned, rebuked, I want to learn how to show others what it means to be a disciple who does not sacrifice their influence among Christians and non-Christians for an earthly government.

Today, I continue to weep because many voted for Trump believing he will help maintain their religious freedom. I weep because my prayer is that this freedom and their Christian influence does not become tainted by a pride, condemnation, or judgment of others.

Today, I weep as I pray that we have not pushed and will not cause those around us to say, “I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

Today, I weep, but with hope that God is faithful. His grace is sufficient. I weep, asking for faith to believe that His true church will wake up and will be known for their love.

I weep today and I cry out “Father”. May He be merciful and forgive us in these times when we know and do not know what we do.

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For Those Who Think I’m Perfect.

Sometimes, I’m absolutely terrified to tell my own stories.

The funny ones were never difficult, I’ve always been able to easily spin and weave those into any and every conversation. Nothing brings me joy like making a room full of people ache with laughter.

But the ones that require me pulling off layers of skin, cracking open my rib cage and letting you peek at the cracks and crevices of my core?

These are the stories I have always been afraid of.

I have driven to the places that haunt me so many times, that I know each tree that lines those gravel streets.

I used stockpile restaurant napkins to keep in the glove box of my little blue Nissan, for all the times I would sit in grocery store parking lots, legs crossed, tears pouring down my face.

I’ve worn out the words “I love you” to people who will never and can never say them back to me.

All by myself, I have stumbled up to houses, hands shaking & stomach churning to apologize to people who probably didn’t deserve it.

I have given out hand-written letters with splatters of my own heart painting the page. I have said words that made me cringe, words that left me feeling bare and exposed because I really believed those people needed to hear the absolute truth.

I lost myself in fears that threatened to swallow me whole. I gave room to a series of imaginations that paralyzed me and barricaded me. I let myself forget the feeling of sunshine on my face and fresh wind filling my lungs.

I’ve lost best friends. People who have seen the best in me, the worst in me, who let me fall into their embrace and told me “it’s all going to be okay”.

Those people left me and it nearly killed me.

I told myself that I needed to hide these parts from the world; that strangers and friends alike didn’t deserve to hear about these scars, they didn’t earn the right to know the pieces that aren’t so pretty. They are not ready for the i’m-not-so-perfect-after-all confessions of a preacher’s kid.

I prided myself on my ability to lock up my disfigured limbs and the unlovely layers of my heart.

But I’m starting to think people need to read and hear the stories that make another person human. They need to know that they’re not alone in their despair, that they aren’t the only ones who have been kicked and thrown dirt at.

They need to know that they weren’t the only kids who trusted someone who took advantage of them.

They need to know that they are not alone in their questions about the God of their childhood, who looks nothing like everyone said He did.

You’re not the only person who is angry at someone for breaking every single promise they ever made to you. You are not the only one who came limping home, head in their hands, feeling like they’d been kicked in the gut because someone should have protected you, but didn’t.

I used to wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, screaming into my pillow from the nightmares that plastered themselves to the walls of my unconscious.

I’ve been broken by memories that are stuck on repeat. Nights of trust and truth that were erased by ones of betrayal and misery.

I have beat my steering wheel. I have used words that, if she had heard them, would have caused my mother to wash my mouth out with bars of white Ivory soap.

Because I am human and that is glorious and chaotic.

I am often broken and sometimes smothered by harsh realities, unanswerable questions and heartbreaking losses.

But I am beautiful. I am so absolutely, unmistakably, breathtakingly stunning. With all of my flaws and blemishes and imperfections, I am still worthy of love.

I have wrestled with the emptiness that weighs heavily on my chest, I know well the pain of having something and someone you love deeply taken away from you.

But I am learning to be open about that.

All the parts I try to cover up, the wounds I try to sew up that seem to keep cracking open at the first signs of disappointment:

I am done with trying to erase them.

I am so done with the idea that our bruises and our scars are not marks of beauty. I am finished with refusing to look at them. When the truth is, they are my marks of redemption and grace.

Those things that I have called ugly are reminders of His unfailing affection and His immovable desire to come for me, even when I hated Him.

I don’t want to push it all away. I don’t want to clean up and look pretty. I want to show the world the marks I bear on my heart and my body that scream HE LOVES ME! HE LOVES ME!

The ones that I don’t have to hide any longer because on His own body he wore the scars that brought healing to mine.

I am not ashamed of who I am, where I’ve been, the brokenness I’ve felt and that He came down and pulled me out. I will not hide those stories that make you wince and cause you to see my grief.

Because I am not ashamed of the power of God to take what is absolutely hideous and make it the perfect picture of freedom and redemption.

Not only did Jesus let his friends see his scars, He let them put their dirty hands on the places where he had once been ripped apart.

He is not ashamed of suffering.

So, I refuse to cover my wounds. I refuse to hide my marks of past suffering. Because He has redeemed them. He has carried them and He put pain on display so that I could have the right as his child to display His grace, His healing and His forgiveness.

But I cannot show you how He heals, unless I show you what was first broken. I cannot give proof of how He washes, if I will not show what was dirty before He came. I cannot convince you of the greatness of His love, if I do not first show you how He took away the shame of all the things I think are unlovable about me.

I’m sorry.

I’m so sorry if the church has made you feel like you can’t show your scars. If they made you feel ashamed of all that you have done or have carried.

I’m sorry if we seem perfect, with our pressed church clothes and words like modest, pure, and consecrated and have made you feel like that we were always clean and tidy; born with a Bible in our hands.

I’m sorry we have been afraid to tell our stories.

That somewhere along the way we forgot that they are what make us relatable, human and displays of infinite grace.

I’m sorry if I haven’t let you see the parts that sometimes still bleed, the limbs that are still a little crooked. I’m sorry that I sometimes still cover the insecure places with my fancy words and deeds.

But I am human and I am flawed. I have known the feeling of weeping on the cold tile floor. I have done things that dulled the life in my eyes. I’ve been the girl who has felt used and worthless.

But I am loved. I know it when I read of how He continuously rolls up His sleeves and lets people remember Him naked, hanging on a tree, mocked and rejected.

He doesn’t let us forget His pain. He doesn’t try to cover it up. He reminds us over and over again of all that He endured.

But He also doesn’t let us forget His resurrection and that He overcame that so that we could also overcome.

So, I will not be ashamed of my stories. My stories tell the world of His ability to love the unlovable and find worth in the unworthy.