Tuesday evening, I sat down to watch the election results. I had voted several weeks earlier and was expecting Hillary Clinton to win. The polls, the main-stream media, my thinking all said, “It may be close, but Hillary will win.” But as the night and morning unfolded, it became clear that Donald Trump would be our next president.
I felt a wave of disappointment, sadness and surprise flow through my body. I recognized my body’s reaction and simply sat with those feeling for a while. I also noticed my thinking racing to all kinds of scenarios, “How will President Trump handle Vietnam (where my son’s company does business)” “How will he handle health care, Syria, national disasters, immigrants, global warming, women’s issues?” . . . on and on.
As I stepped back from my stream of thoughts, I realized that nothing has actually changed as of right now. President Obama is still our President and will be for two months. President-elect Trump will be making decisions in the future that will change our country and my life, but until he actually makes the changes, it is not helpful or healthy for me to be consumed with worry. I have had a habit of catastrophizing or magnifying the importance of things and situations out of proportion to reality. In the past, my thinking would focus on the election of Donald Trump as the possible end of the world. It is not. It is not what I voted for, but it is not a disaster.
As I write that, I realize that President Trump will have tremendous power and the potential to do much harm (as well as much good) for people. Some of his campaign rhetoric greatly disturbed me. But right now they are words and not policy or legislation. I will need to be vigilant as to what policies and legislation does come forth, but to be consumed with anger or anxiety at this moment seems unproductive and unhealthy.
I know that many of my fellow Americans are responding differently. I am mindful that my response is not for everyone. I am mindful of St. Paul’s pastoral advice in Romans 12:15-16 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. I realize that some of my friends and colleagues are rejoicing in this election with the hope of change while others are weeping at the same prospect. I am not wise enough to know how to help all of them other than to be a peaceful, loving presence in the midst of great confusion.
I continue to pray that God’s Kingdom will come and God’s will be done. Amen.