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What do we do now?

Alyssa Shibata shares her personal reflections on the election results and how she chooses to react:

I'm guessing there are a healthy mix of people at our church who either voted for Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Gary Johnson or Jill Stein. I'm also guessing there are mixed emotions ranging from elation to devastation following the results of the election.

After the results came in, I spent about half of the day on Wednesday watching the news, listening to news radio, tuning in across social media, and trying to take a pulse of where our country is headed. I've come to the conclusion that something has to change, and it has nothing to do with politics.

I jumped into Facebook arguments, frantically texted back and forth with like-minded friends, and began to build walls of prejudice against the people I disagree with. I need to change.

From all sides I saw, and participated in, talking without listening, shaming without understanding, condescension without empathy, and preaching without compassion. This behavior did not exclude my Christian brothers and sisters, and was often fueled by them. We need to change.

I quickly got sick of it all, including sick of myself, and turned everything off. I went outside, sat in the cool air, and tried to re-center.

With my eyes closed, feeling a light breeze on my face, I began to think about who I want to be. I can't allow the results of an election to change who I am and dictate how I treat people.

This is who I want to be: intelligent, peaceful, open-minded, reasonable, rational, hopeful, tolerant, optimistic, loving and strong.

The problem is that if I truly want to characterize myself with the above traits, they must apply to my interactions with ALL people; even, and maybe especially, those with whom I disagree.

I have often been accused of being idealistic and overly simplified in my understanding of the world. My husband calls me a dreamer. But I think we could use a healthy dose of idealism today, don't you?

So let me simplify it, as I tend to do.

I am a child of God, and I want to represent Him well. You are a child of God, and I hope you choose to represent Him well. This is how change will happen.

As a follower of God, it is so easy and tempting to pick out rules, regulations and policies from the Bible and use them as political ammunition. As Christians, we try learn from Jesus how to live into the Kingdom of God a little more clearly.

In Luke 10:25-37, the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus gives us an example of how to live:

"A legal expert stood up to test Jesus. 'Teacher,' he said, 'what must I do to gain eternal life?'

Jesus replied, 'What is written in the Law? How do you interpret it?'

He responded, 'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.'

Jesus said to him, 'You have answered correctly. Do this and you will live.'"

He goes on to explain with a story that all people, including our enemies, are our neighbors. Like I said, he made things clearer. But he didn't necessarily make it easier.

It's easy to love people who are easy to love. Can we all agree with that?

That thought has been hitting me time and time again this past year. I consider myself an open and loving person until you disagree with me, and then there is an unspoken limit to my love and mercy.

The challenge that Jesus put upon us is to love and show compassion to those who aren't easy to love. The person who is difficult for me to love is different from the person you find difficult to love. As Christians, we must constantly challenge ourselves to rise above the muck and filter every word we speak and action we take through love.

I fail every day. We fail every day. And we will continue to make mistakes. But the good news is that every day is a new opportunity to try again to live perfect love.

Here is the boilerplate.

Yes, those in political power make a difference. Yes, we are currently in a country that is extremely divided. Yes, we will continue to have tough conversations and confrontations. No, this does not give us permission to seclude ourselves, grumble and retreat.

The church is needed now more than ever. Healthy conversations with those who disagree with us are needed now more than ever. Genuinely listening to each other is needed now more than ever. Love for ALL people is needed now more than ever.

I am a child of God, and I want to represent Him well. You are a child of God, and I hope you choose to represent Him well. This is how change will happen.

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