A Plan for Thriving in a Trump America Pt. 1
Here we are, less than a week beyond the most emotionally jarring political development America has experienced in recent history. One side has been celebrating even with a sudden uneasiness about what they may have just led the country, and conceivably the world, into. The other side is lamenting the outcome — some discreetly, others with embarrassingly wanton outrage verbally obliterating anyone who comes near. This is the part of the show where we just lost Cochise, James died, and Will’s father left him for the final time. And it’s all happening at once, worldwide.
Such being the case, as stated on the front page of this blog, the goal here is to always engage, examine, and educate culture. So, with all that has transpired culturally this week, let’s have a look at how to pick up the pieces and build on whatever foundation this is that we now have as a culture.
One of the greatest historic examples of building after a catastrophe has always been Nehemiah’s response to the destruction of Jerusalem as presented in the book of the Bible by the same name. While I won’t go into great detail on the background of the book (you can read it here) I do want to pull some ideas from the story to develop a practical guide for us to move forward as a country on a constructive and effective path. These ideas are timeless and universal so they can be used on numerous levels and for many different applications but our focus is on building a better culture in America. Oh, one more thing, because of the way attention spans work, we’ll do this in two parts.
The first part here focuses on a multi-level, spiritual first action that sets the stage of the second part which shifts focus to actually getting out and working in the culture. Also, this first part could be combined into a one step cycle but there are details of each that are important so…
1. Sit (Nehemiah 1:4)
The first move in all this madness is to step back. Have a seat. Have several seats if that’s what it takes for us to make sure we don’t say or do something from a place of anger or hurt. The saying goes “hurt people hurt people”. And even though our natural reaction in times of catastrophe may include hurting someone or destroying property, while granting us some form of temporary relief, it would most likely be detrimental in the long-run. So please, let’s not. Sit down somewhere. Rest your mind. Be still. Take a moment (or a thousand) just to gather yourself. When your mind is going a million miles per minute and your emotions are on full-tilt-boogie…sit…down. Be aware of where you are mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. Get somewhere alone and just be. No phone calls, no social media, no CNN, no nothing that isn’t a safe quiet place. Take your favorite blanket, a cup of coffee, and maybe a well-curated playlist–whatever you need to be in the your “alone zone”. Go there. Chill.
2. Mourn and Weep (Nehemiah 1:4)
While you are sitting take time to really be in your emotions. Somehow, especially in American culture, we have come to see mourning and crying as signs of weakness. We are not allowed nor do we allow others to actually have time to fully experience the depth of sorrow and sadness that tends to come with catastrophe. We are taught and teach that we have to be ready to hop back into the world and life itself at a moment’s notice, even after some of our most calamitous life experiences. This couldn’t be further from the truth what we see over and over in the scriptures. One of the greatest imperatives came from Christ himself when he taught, “Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.” So there is actually healing in mourning. Mourning and crying allow a spiritual and emotional release akin to how our biological systems physically remove toxins from our bodies. Think of crying like an emotional laxative. Take some time, get alone, and get it all out. The release is necessary to help you regain your emotional and spiritual balance. It puts you in a position where you are more likely to be able to think clearly, focus your refreshed energy more positively and constructively and, importantly, be in a better position to fend off negative impulses and suggestions from people who have not taken time to mourn and weep. A good in-depth review of mourning can be found here. Again, we could go deeper here but…attention spans.
3. Fast and Pray (Nehemiah 1:4-11)
Now that you’ve detoxed from the bulk of the negative, destructive, and painful energy (all of it may not ever completely go away) by sitting, mourning, and weeping it’s time to start the refueling process. Since you have pushed past the immediate natural, but likely naturally negative, reflexes that accompany catastrophe you can begin to fill that space with constructive, positive, super-powerful vitality and direction that can only come through fasting and prayer.
In the scriptures fasting and prayer are usually noted together because they work like breathing in and breathing out. You’re not actually breathing until you are doing both things in process. So, to really get all the benefit of either fasting or praying, we need to do both in tandem. Think peanut butter and jelly. You can have peanut butter. Jelly is good. But there is no peanut butter and jelly sandwich without…well…you get it. This post isn’t about how to go about this practice. (A couple good resources can be found here and here though.) But, we do need to make sure we integrate it into our response to life’s catastrophes. Fasting and praying refills you with the spiritual nutrients that physical eating can’t. It also sets the foundation for the rest of the response to tough times in our lives.
To get the most out of it focus prayers on really venting to and hearing from God, through spiritual “hearing” and/or through reading scripture. This is the one person you can ALWAYS trust to keep your innermost expressions private. It’s also a time of direction. Where does He want us to go from here? How should we move? What should we take away from this jarring experience? What lessons are there? What eternal truths are being learned through this time? The list of topics goes on. The bottom line is to really get a good bearing on what purpose this time and experience can serve as you grow forward. Finally, write these things down. Whatever you are “hearing”, document it. You’ll need this as you develop your plan for your next moves; for when you actually get up, get out, and get to work. It will also give you a good starting point for future tough times and serve as a way to encourage yourself and others in the future.
More to come…
-a brute connoisseur