A friend asked me to jot down my thoughts on why as a Christian, I can’t vote for Trump. When I was asked to write down my thoughts about the current election and Christianity, I was so angry that I just could not.
I was tormented and still am to some degree, by what America is experiencing. Christianity cannot ever be about hate. It cannot be about abortion. It cannot be about gun rights. It cannot be about anti-immigrant, anti-other religions, anti-anything. It is a sentiment that just is not representative of what I know about being a Christian. I used to be Catholic.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that first. I longed for more. More than the ritualistic prayer and familiarity that being a Catholic Christian brought. I attended numerous churches searching for more spirituality. I knew that I would always be a follower of Jesus Christ; that I would always be a Christian of sorts. But his teachings of love, compassion, forgiveness, have long since left my view of Christianity.
Another disclosure: I am married to an atheist. Between the wonderful partner that he is and fantastic, generous, loving human being he is and what I know about great people of other faiths, I know that Christianity is not the only producer of great people. I have studied religions of the East (and after studying abroad in India, I can say with confidence that “the church,” only 2000+ years old, stole many of Hindu and Buddhist traditions and ideas).
My Christian views have evolved. My view of Christianity has evolved. I am human; I hear we are supposed to do that… I am a follower of Jesus Christ. In the New Testament his stories of love, compassion, meditation and prayer, simplicity, travel, friendship, and forgiveness resonate with me, every day. I have to be true to that belief. Today, I find it harder to say, “I am a Christian” when it is defined by Trump in today’s America. I do not prescribe to the blind following of a book written by flawed men…which I believe Jesus himself did not believe in either, as he rebelled against Judaism as it was practiced at the time. I think Jesus might have to turn over some tables in Trump Tower these days, but then again, who am I to judge how he might see him. I can only tell you how I see and interpret what Trump does or says.
I am a follower of Jesus Christ; not a church, not a religion, and not the political religious doctrine of a party. I have to do what I believe is right, just, fair, loving, compassionate, smart, and good for my fellow man, not just my fellow American. And in saying all of this, I recognize that there are moments when I fail. I am not perfect, and I don’t think to be a follower of him that perfection is required.
I am a follower of Jesus Christ. Although I am not ok with the American Christian ideals, and what they have come to represent, I will not deny him; his love, his compassion, his attempt to save us from ourselves. Like many teachers who have come before us, and those of us who currently teach, our goal is to make our students better. I will follow his teachings forever, despite any negative affiliations.
I hope you find them useful too. I hope you always search for great teachers who make you better. I do not think that Trump will ever be that kind of person to make us better, let alone great.
“She was drowning, but nobody saw her struggle”
I’m working on a presentation on Smiling Depression/High Functioning Depression. This is when someone appears to have it all together but they are imploding and at high risk for suicide and self-harm. In preparation, I was reminded of a young woman I shared time with in my late teens early twenties. I’ve since lost touch with this woman.
She came from what she called the “perfect” family and her mother told her from the time she was born that she was perfect. She would tell me about how her mother would tell her how perfect she was and compare her to other members of her family that didn’t have it all together. She dated the perfect man and she was going to get the perfect job. She talked about having the perfect wedding and the perfect house. It was all going to be perfect. I remember feeling really uneasy with all this talk of perfection. It could be that no one ever told me I was perfect combined with how perfectionism makes me incredibly anxious.
This goal of perfectionism left her devastated at the perception of failure. She was unable to have real lasting friendships or deep meaningful relationships because there was always something that needed to be done or worked on. She was always worried about being overweight and never missed a workout or ate an ounce of fat. She looked on in judgement as people went on adventures and tried new things. She would talk about how reckless they were. It was obvious that she was speaking through jealousy and pain.
At the time, I admired her strength and motivation but now I see that she was a beautiful bird caged in false perfectionism. She could see the world but she could never be part of the world. There was too much danger and risk of failure if she left the cage. She desperately feared disappointing her family; particularly, her mother. Because, she was the perfect daughter.
As I read about smiling depression, I hope she was able to break free of that horrible cage. It’s lonely and desperate in there. I hope she was able to accept that she would never be perfect but she could be magnificent. It scares me when people call their children, partners, and parents perfect. Setting the goal of perfect is like chewing on razor blades.
If you think you might struggle with smiling depression, please talk to someone. The association between this type of depression and suicidal ideation is dangerously high.
“I’m the type of girl who smiles to make everyone’s day. Even though I’m dying on the inside.”
“If you’re in trouble, or hurt or need – go to the poor people. They’re the only ones that’ll help – the only ones.”
John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
When I worked in schools, I had a teacher tell me that a kid was an asshole. I looked at her like her face was on fire. That kid was not an asshole, that kid was treated like an asshole and was acting accordingly.
Over the years I’ve had countless clients that grew up in poverty tell me about the shameful moments they experienced trying to negotiate the middle and upper class.
If your parents don’t teach you kindness or compassion, where are you going to learn how to negotiate social situations? If your parents don’t teach you to say “thank you” how will you learn when and where it’s appropriate to extend gratitude. If your parents don’t teach you or show you how to eat properly, where will you learn to do this?
If your parents or family don’t value education or teach you how to critically think, how will you learn to do this? What’s more, what about kids that are actively discouraged from education or learning?
If you’ve lived your life in the well insulated middle or upper class caste it’s easy to assume that everyone shares your life experience and “should just know how to act” but this is not the case for millions of American children.
We are not born with manners, education, and social etiquette. Those are taught. Often, by the time a child reaches school age they have already started learning from their family culture.
That kid wasn’t an asshole, he was doing what he was taught and really confused as to why it “works” at home and gets him in trouble at school. And, the approval of his family always mattered more.
Consider the context before you judge.