Betrayal of trust dominates the news, regardless of which way you voted. Do you trust the media or the president or the leaks or other elected officials? How do we come back from this, how do we reunite again? Friends we blocked on social media and family we no longer speak to because divisions have become too personal all are experiencing this drama in real time with us. How can we hear each other in the midst of celebrating on one side and mourning on the other, questions grow about how long how deep how messed up is our government? Is the polarization lasting or can we find our way back together, putting our shared goals first? The only way out is through, having a hundred hard talks and listening to hearings and determine the undeniable facts and taking action, then finding someone, anyone to build coalition again. Expecting that we will unite now though is foolish, insensitive to those who saw it coming and to those who are lagging behind, still holding on to what they believed could be true. We have to do the work. Rebuilding the lost trust when we have shown our ugliest selves on social media and around kitchen tables and in cubicles takes much time. Asking for immediate forgiveness negates the depth of the wounds, the reality of the anger and the legitimacy of the tears. Breaking trust creates ripples that show up long after that last wave is seen.
There is a certain arrogance in the actions of those who think they know better, can decide differently than they have been instructed or asked or charged with doing. Heat of the moment actions, passions overcome, selfish choices made that destroy democracies and relationships. I wonder if any of them consider the consequences in those moments or are they too full of righteousness to remember the factor of trust, to remember their own failings. What is the end game? What can they possibly be thinking, that their actions will never be discovered, we will thank them for all of this? That we will forget we ever said no don’t do that, don’t sell our government and tell our secrets and call us names? Oh to be so sure of yourself, so confident that you can overtake the thoughts of others and twist them once again so that you did nothing wrong and really it was for our own good. What must it be like to be that person so willing to throw away their position and standing and relationships for that moment when they say yes to what is wrong. I cannot fathom the thought process. I cannot get there. Maybe I just haven’t held enough power or charisma.
I listened to a sermon yesterday from a young pastor who talked about apologizing without the “but.” Right up there on the altar, I heard the beginning steps to rebuilding trust. Apologizing without trying to explain away actions, expecting understanding or instant forgiveness. I love the VlogBrothers video on how to apologize, I reference it often. It is brilliant. Like the drivers exam or SAT’s, there should be a standard exam you have to take on this video in order to reach actual adulthood or before allowed into relationships. Certainly before you place your hand on any Bible and take an oath or even say I do. And then as a refresher course every 5 years, as we all begin to forget that messing up only comes with instant grace from God, we have to do the work with fellow humans.
We are going to have many opportunities to extend grace and safe haven to those who are mourning in the coming days and weeks. Those who have lost hope in institutions and no longer know where to turn, who is to be believed, who is on their side. We can judge, we can celebrate that our side is winning, look at how great we are, sure we knew all along how to do this. But is that Godly? Where is the grace in that? Because I am reminded that our side wasn’t always so crystal clean, that we didn’t always look so pure. Feeling shocked when the mourning have had enough and strike back, what a blessing to have only to experience a snippet of their hurt and live in only a moment and judge from the comfort of our own homes. No one likes to have their dirtiness exposed, do we offer a warm bath or a cold shower? No, we have a chance as real followers of Jesus to extend grace, to allow the broken to find healing and to do so without prejudice. Anything else is more ugliness and we just cannot bear to add that onto this wreckage.
We are facing unprecedented challenges, no time in history have we been afforded the luxury and responsibility that instant communication affords us. Slowing down and using it wisely, apologizing when we have broken trust, creating safe haven for those who are hurting, this looks like the way forward to creating unity to me. There are many groups that spread hate and are seeking to divide us all. My friend Jesus knew those groups as well, my friend Ghandi did, my friend Martin Luther King Jr. met them too. Seeing anger and hate for what it is and showing kindness to those suffering, they gave us a model of how to move forward. Will we chose to follow? That is how we rebuild broken trust. I fear it is going to get much worse before it gets better. We all have a chance to show our better selves, to be our better selves.
The question is, are we brave enough to do what is right by God, humble ourselves and extend that olive branch to those who we have lost along the way? Relationships and governments need all the voices, not just the most powerful. Is there room in your life for those who are quietly hurting? Can you make space without judgement for those who feel hopeless? If you already have all the answers, if you are celebrating without all the facts, I may question your claim as a patriot or a Christian. You may find you have some work to do yourself before you begin planning that victory party. One nation under God, indivisible. No buts, let’s work to rebuild what is broken.