Chip Neidigh

Tough Love

America, I have deep compassion for your pain, and I simultaneously need to tell you, for your own good, at some point you need to move through your grief and get back to work.

I find the best thing to do when I’m hurt is to focus outside myself and go help someone else. I know it hurts, and I’m sorry for your pain. But your pain isn’t worse than anyone else’s. If you’re one of the red state non-college-educated white men who feels disenfranchised, your pain is real, but please have some compassion for the racial minorities who live with the social and structural legacies of bigotry and slavery. If you’re a racial minority or ally who is scared, angry, and disillusioned, your pain is real, but please have some compassion for the men and women in Appalachia and the Rust Belt who have lost their dignity, sense of identity, and are turning to heroin in record numbers to escape their hopelessness.

One of the advantages of working in the people development space is that I see people change all the time. I know that deep, fundamental, character-shifting transformation is possible. Governing is different than winning an election; Donald Trump now has a heavy burden on his shoulders, and that pressure may create internal tectonic shifts. Pray (or at least hope) that Donald will heal and grow in the ways that are in the best interests of those he now serves.   If you believe in lifelong character development, then expect better things from President Trump. People often live up to, or down to, our expectations.

For those of us who believe in a higher power, I find a little perspective can be helpful. God pre-existed America, and God pre-existed Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. He can redeem even the most hopeless situations and people. For followers of Jesus, let’s remember that our primary allegiance is not to this temporary nation-state, but to the One who loves recklessly, fearlessly, and eternally.

Stephen Covey said that when we focus on things outside our spheres of influence, those spheres shrink. I’ve seen a lot of diminished spheres over the past couple of days. I’ve also been encouraged by witnessing some individuals moving from victimhood to empowerment, increasing their influence in the process. Stand up and lead in your neighborhood.

Find your calling– the place where the world’s deep hunger meets your deep gladness (Frederick Buechner). There was animosity, apathy, contempt, damage, waste, need, and disconnection before November 8, and it’s all still there. There’s only one you in the universe, with your gifts, your passions, and your experiences. Find the place in the world where you feel called to punch holes in the darkness, and get to work.

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