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Storyteller. Grace Dweller.

I’m Jennifer — wife of an Iowa farmer, mom to two girls, new book author. I believe in you, because I believe in Jesus. You matter to Him, and you matter to me. more »

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Tuesday 31st January 2017

What To Do When You Can’t Agree With the People You Love

So I’m going to tell it to you plainly, and I’ll start with a visual representation of the polarizing tension that most of us are living in right now.

This is a political sign for Trump, with a not-so-subtle protest affixed to it. The sign probably represents the tension in your Facebook news feeds, and in your own communities.

This sign also represent the tension in my own home. 

Because this sign is sitting in my garage.

 

The Story Behind the Sign

It was the week before the election. My husband, a life-long Republican, brought his Trump sign home. The folks at the county GOP office gave it to him, hoping he might put it up in the yard. To my husband, the sign represented the promise of a better America. He wanted to plant that sign out front, but he knew what I would say before he even asked:

“Um… NO.”

There we stood in the kitchen. It was a standoff between a husband who would vote for Trump — and the wife who wouldn’t.

The sign didn’t go in the yard. Scott set it against the wall in the garage. A day later, our 12-year-old daughter Anna quietly went outside and affixed a Post-It note to the sign with a single word:

“No…”

This is the state of things in our house right now. This is the very real tension that we are living in, day after day.

In a weird way, the tension in my home is a gift. It’s a hard and painful gift, but I choose to call it a gift anyway. Because it is teaching us something very important about what it means to find unity in the midst of a sharp divide.

Which is why we invited you into our home today.

We wanted you to know that if you are experiencing deep tension, you are not alone and you are not powerless. We invited you — not for a fight, but in the name of unity. Scott and I are learning how to navigate this, and we hope what we’ve learned helps you, wherever you are, however you voted, whoever you support. (You are welcome here.)

Chances are, you are dealing with the tension too. This post is for anyone who can’t see eye-to-eye with the people they love dearly, yet don’t have the option of unfriending their spouse, best friend, sister-in-law, or their own kid. These are your people. And you just want to figure out how to live in peace with them.

First of all, our divisions should not shock us. Neither Scott or I is shocked by what’s happening in our own home. When we married, we knew we didn’t see eye to eye on everything. We jokingly referred to ourselves as Carville and Matalin, a political couple famously known for their opposing views.

But we got married. Here’s why:

Because we loved “us,” more than we hated what was different. 

That conviction brought Scott and I to the altar, and it’s what keeps us together all these years later. Maybe that’s a starting place for each of us today:

We can love “us,” more than we hate what is different. 

Statistically speaking, we are collectively “different.” If you had to pick sides, half of you would be standing next my husband, and half of you would be standing near me.

But it’s not that black-and-white, is it? This is way more nuanced than two “sides.”

Imagine three cardboard boxes.

People are putting everyone into one of three boxes. The first box is labeled: “heartless, bigoted conservative.” The second box is labeled: “whiny, bleeding-heart liberal.” The third box sits in the middle, a little higher than the other two, and it is labeled: “I’m right.”

The funny thing is, everybody thinks he himself is sitting in the “I’m right” box, and anyone who is “other” is assigned to one of the other two boxes.

Here’s where Scott and I began long ago, back when we decided to “love us, more than to hate what was different.” We looked at the stupid boxes. And then we threw them all away.

Step One: Throw Away the Stupid Boxes

Putting people in boxes is easy. We do it because we’re lazy and stubborn. We don’t have to think as much when we have boxes. We get terribly frustrated when we can’t find a box to put someone in.  It’s easier to label someone, than to do the harder, nuanced work of trying to see that someone else might have a point.

Harder still is this:

to believe that your deepest convictions and “their” deepest convictions are both born out of a deep love for God.

Because I live with someone who thinks differently than I do about some issues, it would be tempting to put him in a box. But I don’t get to put Scott in a box. Why? Because I live with him. I see who he really is. Every morning, I find my husband wide awake in his recliner, reading the Bible. Every night, I see him kneeling at the side of the bed, praying with our daughters. I watch how he is generous with his finances — giving to causes that might surprise the most left-leaning liberal. I watch how he spends hundreds of hours every year devoted to prison ministry. And I have observed how dedicated he is as school board president for our local public school.

I don’t fit in a box either. Statistically speaking, I might have fit in the Trump box: I am a white evangelical Christian woman who is registered Republican. But I didn’t vote for Trump, which I know will disappoint some of you, and I have never once voted straight-ticket. Some of you might have put me in a “Hillary Clinton box.” But I don’t belong there, either. I am pro-life, and because of that, I am also pro-refugee. I voted for a third-party candidate named Evan McMullin.

There’s always more than what we first choose to see.

Humans are too complicated for stupid boxes.

Step Two: Resist the Urge to Be Right

Scott is not a simple man, but he has a simple approach to dealing with conflict. Every day at lunch, we talk about politics, the Supreme Court, the latest with the refugee crisis, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the farm economy, and more. Which means, every single day, we are entering a potential minefield. Sometimes, there are tears.

If it gets a little hot in the kitchen, Scott steps out of the room. He doesn’t make a big scene. It’s his way of saying, “I’m not going to tell you how right I am, and I’m not to listen to you explain how right you are.” Scott loves “us,” more than he hates what’s different.

Also? He loves “us,” more than he loves being right. 

My wise friend Deidra Riggs has something to say about that. She wrote a book called One: Unity in a Divided World, and it’s releasing soon.

Deidra and I talked this morning, and she said something we all need to hear: “I so often misinterpret the Scriptures, thinking that Jesus said, ‘I have come that you might be right.‘ But that’s not what He said. He said, ‘I have come that you may have life, and have it more abundantly.’ Holding tightly to my perspective and my way of seeing things … makes my life feel small, like something that has to be protected. It makes me a slave to my perspective, and my opinion, and my vote.”

So. Let’s resist the urge to be right. Let’s love “us” more than we love being right.

Step Three: Before you speak, THINK.

In our home, we adopted this saying:

“Before you speak, THINK.”

T – Is it True?
H – Is it Helpful?
I – Is it Inspiring?
N – It it Necessary?
K – It is Kind?

I am not trying to be PollyAnna here. I know there are times when corrective words are needed. We all need to stand up for justice. (That’s part of the “N” up there.) But what’s in short supply these days? Is THINKING. It’s found in the extra 10 seconds to really consider what we’re going to say, instead of dropping verbal grenades on each other.

Too often, we start to formulate a response, before the other person has finished speaking. Words spill from us, that we can’t take back.

“The tongue has the power of life and death.” {Proverbs 18:21}.

Let’s choose wisely. Before we speak, let’s THINK.

Step Four: Use the Micah Filter

Last Sunday, Scott and I sat shoulder-to-shoulder in church, reading out of the same Bible. We recited Micah 6:8.

“And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

The verses spoke to us deeply on so many levels, with regard to how we respond to the following:

– the refugee, as well as any Americans concerned about our border
– the friend in my Facebook feed who agrees with me, and the friend who absolutely doesn’t

What does the Lord require of us in times like these?

The lesson from Micah offers us all a really great place to start.

Let’s run all that we say through that three-layered filter: Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly.

Let The Hard Work Begin

This is going to take work, isn’t it? God must have had confidence that we could do it, because He put us together as one body of Christ. And we really are one body, regardless of political party, religious affiliation, whether we marched or didn’t march.

Over the years, in the church alone, we’ve divided ourselves along so many lines that we don’t even worship under the same roofs anymore.

Grape juice or wine.
Chris Tomlin or Charles Wesley.
Sprinkle or dunk.
Tongues or “that’s just weird.”
KJV or NIV. (Or, gasp! The Message!)

Disagreement is nothing new among the people of God.

We are faced with the potential for division with each new era, each social issue that moves to the front of the line, each new pressing crisis that must be dealt with.

We are one body of Christ, but we have rarely been one unified voice. How, then, can we live peaceably together?

Scott and I have had a lot of years to practice, and in some ways, it never gets easier. But we keep coming back to this: Practice kindness.

That’s great advice, but it’s not easy. Well, this is our chance to show the world that it’s possible to do the thing that isn’t easy.

This is our chance, as the people of Jesus, to show what it looks like to be civil in tone, humble in posture, and gracious in attitude. I’m not saying we have to be so “open-minded” that our brains fall out. Goodness, each of us can stand for whatever we stand for, and do what we believe is right!

But, please. Be kind.

Our words always fold into the souls of other human beings. That’s no small thing.

Be kind to the person who marches differently from you.
Be kind to the person who posts about puppies instead of politics.
Be kind to the person on the other side of the political aisle.
Be kind to the person on the other side of the street.
Be kind to the person who chooses to be silent.
Be kind to the person who raises her voice daily.
Be kind to your friends, and as hard as it is, be kind to your enemies.

When we exit earth for heaven, Scott and I might not have a lot of money or pretty things to leave the people we love. But we can always be rich in the words we left behind. We can leave an inheritance of kindness.

It is easy to hate. It takes strength to be kind.

And you, my friend, have the opportunity to show the world where your strength comes from.

Let’s do this.

In the spirit of this post and in the spirit of unity,
let us be civil and gracious to each other in the comments.  

#TellHisStory

Hey Tell His Story crew! It is a joy to gather here every week with you. The linkup goes live each Tuesday at 4 p.m. (CT). If you would use the badge on your blog, found here, that would be great! And if you would visit at least one other blogger in the link-up and encourage them with a comment, that would be beautiful! Be sure to check the sidebar later. I’ll be featuring one of you over there!

Our featured writer this week is Christine Duncan. She wrote about our struggles being instruments and how God can use every single thing in our lives – including depression. Find Christine here.

To be considered as our featured writer, be sure to use our badge or a link to my blog from your post. xo Jennifer

 


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  • Carolina

    I cried. The whole post. Cried all the way down the post. Cried in between the lines of the post. Cried until the very last period. I just came in from a prayer walk – my re-centering for the week of mouthing off on Twitter. I’m off FB for a fast, but that didn’t keep me from getting extremely passionate on Twitter. I’m your left leaning Jesus loving friend who cried when she couldn’t vote for Bernie in Texas. I’m that blip on the map in my red state. I had a Trump friend over for dinner after the inauguration. We broke bread. I hugged my Muslim friends tight when I came back to work to see they were all here. I cried last night when I stared at my baby girl thinking I couldn’t imagine changing my name because of fear. I get really passionate. I don’t know the answer, but I want to be the best person God needs me to be. My prayer walk revealed that God needs me to be hope even if it’s for ONE person. Even if it’s for some lonely solitary soul. I need to be the hope for them because of HIM. Your post is the first thing I read when I came back in from this walk. You must know how God is using you to speak to me. God bless you, Jennifer.

    • Oh girl… I am with you in so many ways. There have been so many tears. I have felt ripped open, and social-media feels like salt being poured into those wounds. I’ve both WANTED to say what I had to say … and I didn’t. What could one more voice do? What could I add? But this is my heart, laid out on this screen.

      Meanwhile, I have felt shamed for being quiet. Fellow Christian bloggers have accused some of us for NOT speaking out. They charged that we were too afraid of losing followers from a white evangelical base, and that we were too afraid of losing book deals. I found that kind of accusation deeply offensive and hurtful. I am not afraid of losing followers or book deals — I’m just trying to hold things together in my everyday life, right under my roof, in my church, in my town. I live in a county where 82% of the people voted for Trump. Less than 1% voted for my candidate.

      This conflict is far more nuanced than a 140-character Tweet, isn’t it?

      So … I am with you in those tears, sweet Carolina. And I am feeling like I need a prayer walk, right up here in Iowa. <3 Thanks so much for sharing your heart, Carolina. Sending a digital hug to you, across these miles!

      xo

  • Mary

    You shared what has been on my heart and how I am feeling. I have no exact words to describe what I am feeling even though I tried to do it in one small way today with my post. I very much feel like a Pollyanna because I want everyone to stop and be nice to each other. It seems easy to me but it is so much harder. All I can say is thank you and speaking in kindness goes a long way.

    • You are so welcome, Mary. Thank you for adding your voice to the discussion on your blog as well. No matter if we got our “choice” for president or not, we still have another choice: That choice is how we respond, and how we treat others. And that is no small thing.

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  • Sherry Thecharmofhome

    Great post Jennifer! As Jesus said, “Love one another.” It is a commandment right? I know that is easier said than done in these times. Bless you for writing this and sharing your home with us! Thanks for hosting!

  • Dear Jennifer,

    It absolutely doesn’t surprise me to see the way you are letting grace lead you to share and live out transparency right in this space. I love that about you, I really really do. This past political season has been a hard whirlwind lack of grace giving season and what surprised me is the way believers have beat up on one another. I get it… we are all people, but I don’t get it. I don’t get it at all. And it has kept me quiet, left me with no desire to talk about policy and ideals and progressive or conservative or liberal points of view.
    And I teach an American Government Class. I wrote a book on how to study the US Constitution. I teach students to read it and understand it and to grasp Natural Law and the policies that have given us the government we have.
    And even in my class there has been hard words with these kids we are raising to think but they have been grace words, they have been questions that make us ask more questions and lead us to love difference and embrace truth.
    And still I don’t want to talk about it with people, because I am tired of the hurting. I see the fear they wear and the way they express it and it makes my heart hurt for them and for me and for this generation I am releasing my own loves into.

    Thanks for writing this… for letting a little safe seep in.
    Bless you,
    Dawn

  • Meghan Weyerbacher

    I LOVE YOU!!! I so needed this! And I am about to cry just reading the comments. Why do I always veer to wrong thinking of I am alone? I am not alone. Everyone is experiencing some of kind of tension in their life and you are right, we must live peacefully amidst the conflict. God has been whispering this to me, but I feel like a little girl sometimes where I fight to say, “but–but—”
    I have always been a peacemaker type kid – who stood in the middle of mom and dad and tried to “fix” it all. Even in friendships, church strife..always the peacemaker/fixer. “Let’s take it in prayer cause God’s got this kinda gal.” I was hurt the other night but didn’t dare share my hurt feelings. I kept going with a smile. #1 I wasn’t able to process what had just happened. #2 I felt I couldn’t convey my true heart properly. God showed up that night when I got home. I cried out to him on the kitchen floor and then shortly after got a call from an old pastor who I hadn’t heard from in a year, and he said God put me on his heart. He just wanted to encourage me! Then today in Ezekiel God led me to the commentary at the bottom and this is what it said: (Ez 37:5 “The dry bones represented the people’s spiritually dead condition. Your church may seem like a heap of dried-up bones to you, spiritually dead with no hope of vitality. But just as God promised to restore his nation, he can restore any church, no mater how dry or dead it may be. Rather than give up, pray for renewal, for God can restore it to life. The hope and prayer of every church should be that God will put His Spirit into it (37:14). In fact, God is at work calling His people back to Himself, bring new life into dead churches.” The Living Bible commentary. And I can’t help but think about each person made in the image of God how we ARE a temple (church) for Him and how many people do we know who are lost right now…but this is speaking Hope into those very people!

    Wanted to share that, may even share on my blog about it. I am so thankful for you, friend. Your post was a favorite along with Mary G’s today. Glad you are in my life. xoxo

  • Jennifer, this is THE BEST thing I’ve read anywhere on this subject. Thank you…for writing it, for inviting us in, for encouraging us to be kind and throw away the boxes. Yes! Thank you…I’m off to share this post.

  • “Prone to wander, LORD, I feel it . . .” I can make a god out of anything, and being right is one of my favorite “melt down the earrings and hammer it out” idols. I love the words of Micah 6:8, because it brings righteousness right into my kitchen and onto my keyboard and into the words I say on the phone. And it reminds me that it’s what the Lord requires.

    Thank you for leading our thoughts in this direction today.

  • AnnVoskamp_HolyExperience

    I deeply appreciate you — more than you will ever know.

  • Bravo, Jennifer. Bravo. I love your heart.

  • connir brown

    OK, as I am reading this President Trump comes on the TV to announce the next Supreme Court nominee. I turn away from my computer just as they post the picture of the 2 final nominees. I can’t NOT speak. My comment “Oh 2 White Men, imagine that” My husband called me a racist….
    It is such a trying time, thanks for the post…. I’m going to reread it because I was not focused…

  • karen

    This is SO good! Yep, the tension is REAL! I love Deidra’s comment!!!!!!!

    THANKS for sharing your reality!

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  • Yes!!!! This: “Humans are too complicated for stupid boxes.” And I love how you and Scott are choosing love…may we all learn to do the same 🙂

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  • smoothstones

    I could relate to much of this. My husband voted for Trump. I voted for Johnson. Pity we folks who decided to vote for someone other than Trump or Clinton didn’t vote for the same individual. I was hoping that someone other than Trump or Clinton would get enough of the popular vote that his or her party would have funding toward the next election; alas. As for my husband and me, we don’t talk about politics very often, and when we do, we tread carefully. It’s taken a long time and a lot of therapy, but we’re learning differentiation. We’re learning that it’s okay if we don’t think (or vote) the same way.

  • Perfect post. Great steps listed. I hate all this division among people over something we will not change our mind about, and over what they will not change their mind about. I love what my friend says about marriage. “If we both agreed on everything, one of us would be useless.” Different views are necessary and helpful. I know I married my husband because he was so different from me. And while that sometimes can be a pain, in the long run it has been so helpful for me. He tempers, grows, and stretches me in ways I would not have if I had married a carbon copy of myself.

  • KristenStrong

    Bravo for this, Jennifer. Bravo!

    When David and I were first married, we used to watch a show called “Dharma & Greg.” I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, but it made us laugh because in several ways it hit close to home. Nevertheless, throughout our marriage God has faithfully show us how He brings uncommon people together for His common good, and I’m thankful for that.

    Your words minister to me, friend. Love you. xo

    • I had forgotten about that show! Yes!

      Thanks, Kristen, for standing with me in this place this week. xo

  • Ann

    Thank you for going here! ❤. And you did it SO gracefully!

    • I appreciate you stopping by. xo

  • Tara Ulrich

    Thank You for showing that we can live and love those we disagree with. My seminary class verse was Micah 6:8. Its one of my faves!

    • You are so welcome. Grateful for you, Tara.

  • Susan

    The Micah Filter. Yes, I like it a lot.

  • Sarah Geringer

    Jennifer, your post is well-pondered and wise. We are living in unprecedented political times, which I believe are creating a unique, unprecedented gateway for the church to model unity. I’ve chosen several new ways to promote unity. I have stopped throwing my opinion around. I am listening more and speaking less. I am choosing to address the deeper issues of the heart and soul, which politics and government cannot solve. I like Henri Nouwen’s observation that we are all thirsty people, and our calling as Christians is to offer living water to the thirsty, no matter their political or religious affiliation. This is my new goal–to offer a cup of water to anyone in my path. God is changing me in these tumultuous days, and I’m grateful for these times which have brought needed change to me.

    • So good, Sarah. So, so good. Thank you. Your words are speaking to the thirstiest part of me.

      • Sarah Geringer

        Thank you Jennifer! Can’t wait to meet you at She Speaks 2017!

  • Your observation that is its ‘easy to hate. It takes strength to be kind” is so profound. I’m all too quick to put people in boxes because they aren’t just like me. I don’t have to understand my family or my facebook friends, or even Donald Trump—but I need to be kind.Thank you for that reminder!

    • Right there with you, Anita. “I need to be kind.” Yes. We are NOT powerless. Our kindness is a underrated but powerful force in a world of cynicism.

  • Such a wonderful post as it represents the angst probably many of are feeling. Thank you for reminding us to be kind and civil and gracious. After all, no matter, we are a part of the Body of Christ. Blessings!

    • “A house divided against itself shall not stand” has become so real in my home. We’ve had to remind ourselves that what unites us is far more important than what divides us, and in the end, that’s what keeps this house standing strong. Thank you, friend, for being here. Deeply grateful for you.

  • Liz

    So timely. So good! Thanks for sharing! Blessings!

    • You are welcome. Grateful for you, Liz.

  • I LOVE YOUR BRAVERY. Thank you for this post. I choose to focus on the gift of the peaceful transfer of power this election season. Our country didn’t literally suit up for war to pick a new leader. We have mastered the art of debate in this country, and are passionate about both sides being heard. Your authentic positive attitude and caring heart is inspiring.
    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for this post. I noticed the other day out on a Facebook feed an argument going on over a picture you posted, and I want you to know that I prayed for you and your willingness to put yourself out there like that and mediate it with such grace. Better than hiding from the social media world, we can be such a bright force of light if we stay close to Him. Happy Wednesday, and awesome piece! Megs

    • Thank you, Meg. I am going to copy and paste my response to Carolina, because it also addresses a bit of what you’re saying here:

      “I’ve both WANTED to say what I had to say … and I didn’t. What could one more voice do? What could I add? But this is my heart, laid out on this screen.

      Meanwhile, I have felt shamed for being quiet. Fellow Christian bloggers have accused some of us for NOT speaking out. They charged that we were too afraid of losing followers from a white evangelical base, and that we were too afraid of losing book deals. I found that kind of accusation deeply offensive and hurtful. I am not afraid of losing followers or book deals — I’m just trying to hold things together in my everyday life, right under my roof, in my church, in my town. I live in a county where 82% of the people voted for Trump. Less than 1% voted for my candidate.

      This conflict is far more nuanced than a 140-character Tweet, isn’t it?”

      All that to say, Meg … it’s not been easy to know where to enter the conversation, and when to just be quiet. In the end, I spoke from the part of me where I felt Jesus speaking loudest in my heart. The result: This post.

      Thank you for being here. Deeply, deeply grateful for you.

      • You make a really good point about worrying who we will offend with our posts. It’s so imperative to go through some of the steps you mentioned before diving in. My sister and I have very different political and religious views, so I know from the heart what you mean when you say you can’t unfriend family. I wouldn’t want to, anyway. God put us together as sisters, and His plan is greater. I will love her whether she thinks I’m bat crazy or not, and trust His pursuit of her heart.

        I just had to re-read this and tell you my favorites:
        “verbal grenades….” I laughed out loud …oh, such truth.
        “Our words always fold into the souls of other human beings. That’s no small thing.” -Oh, the prayer and caution we must have for people. I love people.

        “Be kind to the person who posts about puppies instead of politics.” -this is so me. Thanks for having my back. lol.
        Luvs ya, sister in Christ. You did good, today.
        Megs

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  • I really appreciate this Jennifer. Well thought out and beautifully written, an important reminder for all of us. Blessings to you and your family.

    • So glad these words served your beautiful heart, Sarah. xo

  • I needed this. I’ve unfollowed several friends on Facebook so that I can keep their friendship in real life. I’ve never struggled so much with political differences as I have this past year. My husband is more politically conservative than I am as well, so we’ve had our fair share of “discussions.”. 🙂 But thankfully we’ve always come away learning more about each other instead of staying angry with each other. Thanks for sharing your wisdom here!

  • Jennifer! This is so good! I think you pretty well just wrote my life and my marriage…and it’s difficult sometimes, especially in these times. Thank you for the wise words.

  • Thank you for being so honest and brave, Jennifer. Oh, how true that we all need to love “us” as family, friends, and community more than hate our differences. I have been so deeply troubled the last months over what’s happening in our country. I identify with you – “I am pro-life, and because of that, I am also pro-refugee.” I am not on Facebook, but I’m hearing of hostile words and torn-up friendships, and my heart aches. I just wish we all could follow the attitude of Christ, that of love and compassion. And I confess that even though I don’t voice it, I feel so upset at Trump and others who degrade others. So I keep praying that God will give me love in my heart, too, for everyone. To not judge, but to pray. It comforts me to know that God is still God and He still reigns. Thank you for this much-needed post. Hugs!

  • Fabulous post, dear friend! As the Body of Christ, LOVE covers a multitude of our differences. Great job in laying it out there about our theological differences too. As my husband and I like to remind each other, “We may be fully convinced in our own minds and act on what we believe, but none of us has everything 100% right.” We won’t understand fully and perfectly until heaven — and by then, hmm, will these issues even matter so much? Love is what remains. And as much as I understand anyway, that’s more than enough.

  • Monica Huyser

    Thank you for this thoughtful well written post. My heart aches as my husband’s family has divided due to politics. Only they have progressed from politics to tearing down character. I wish they would see past the politics to the good in each other again. As a result, Christmas was done on 2 different days with my in-laws so the divided wouldn’t be together, by their choice. We love them all and it breaks our heart. We have so far remained out of the “fight” and have prayed and continued to try to choose our words carefully but oh how painful and heartbreaking it is.

  • So much good stuff here. My heart is grieved that so much of our society has lost the ability to be civil in our disagreements. Thanks for sharing your family journey.

    BTW, I just giggled a bit when I read this:

    Grape juice or wine.

    Chris Tomlin or Charles Wesley.

    Sprinkle or dunk.

    Tongues or “that’s just weird.”

    KJV or NIV. (Or, gasp! The Message!)

    because I just a wrote a post this morning that talks about unity and love in the body of Christ in spite of denominational preferences. Great minds think alike!

  • Kay

    Jennifer, Thank you so much for your honest and wise blog post. These have indeed been difficult days! I have felt many, no, probably all, of the same emotions you expressed. And yet, as you’ve probably already surmised, I’m on the other end of the spectrum from you on many issues. Isn’t that funny, that on both sides of the issues we have felt shamed, isolated, misunderstood and polarized?

    I think one of the things that has baffled me most is that I’m not used to feeling differently from other Christians whom I admire about significant issues. I’m used to feeling very in line with the thinking of other well-discipled believers. So in the past year or so as Christian influencers (such as yourself) began to indicate that they felt differently from me about subjects such as the election, gay marriages, the presidential election results and now the refugee situation, I began to feel a panic rise up in my spirit. I didn’t like feeling out of step.

    In each situation, I panicked a little, then I withdrew to God’s Word and prayer, seeking clarity and wisdom. Sure, I talked things through with my husband (who is also my pastor), but I wanted to make sure that I was seeing things clearly for myself and not just assuming his position. I don’t mean to sound disrespectful towards him. He is extremely wise, godly and informed. But I needed to know that I know that I know that I was making my decisions and choosing my positions based on my own convictions and interpretation of God’s Word.

    I tell you, Jennifer, this has been such a growing time for me. I appreciate your perspective of being used to disagreeing with your husband about issues, but I’m just not used to being out of step with those I look up to. And my respect for those people has not diminished one iota. Really it hasn’t. But it has caused me to grow up and learn to stand on my own two feet…even if I stood alone.

    Also, the differences in opinions caused me to examine more carefully my perspectives. I don’t know when I’ve ever studied so hard! Even in preparing to write the Bible studies I’ve written, I don’t think I pondered over scriptures so long. I’ve dug into what God’s Word says about government, marriage, homosexuality, refugees, borders, etc. I’ve also tried to go to the source more than before. I’ve looked for direct statements, instead of quotes. I’ve read executive orders as well as the policies and purpose statements of refugee organizations.

    And I’m not insinuating that I’ve done more than others. I’m sure I haven’t. In fact, I have a feeling that there are many others who have been driven to really get to the bottom of things, too. That’s a positive result of the division for sure.

    I’ve also learned the value of asking questions instead of making assumptions. In fact, asking respectful and thoughtful questions is such a good way to lower the temperature of the conversation, it turns out. I’m working on doing more of that. And it’s hard. Because you’re right, we think we are right! But more than right, I want to be wise. And that requires being teachable and humble, doesn’t it?

    I’m rambling. But I just wanted you to know that I concur and appreciate your perspective. On this…we agree! Bless you!

    And Jennifer, I want you to know that I do esteem you. I’m sorry that some have made you feel shamed for silence. That’s interesting to me because indeed I have been watching and waiting for those I look up to to speak out on some of these issues. But I never thought it was because you or others were protecting yourself or your book deals. I just assumed you were practicing wisdom and holding your tongue. But, as I said, I’ve been hungry to hear what you and others think. I’m not offended to hear that you feel differently than me on some issues. I just appreciate hearing your thoughts articulated. I want to hear from people who I know seek the Lord, study His Word diligently and desire to walk humbly, live justly and treat others kindly. Just as you stated that you aren’t offended by your husband’s differences in opinion because you know his character, I’m not offended by your opinions for the same reason. For that reason, I do wish others with much larger platforms than my own would speak out.

    Enough said. Good job, Jennifer. Thanks!

  • Julie Loos

    Such much good here Jennifer! Thank you for showing us another way!
    Thanks for hosting too!

  • Angela Howard

    You echo my own sentiments Jennifer and I have shared many of these same words with my family around the dinner table. Thank you for sharing so gracefully.

  • Elizabeth Morgan

    Enjoyed reading your blog. Just read Franklin Graham’s current writing about the temporary refugee ban. It was very sensible and calming to current fears. Jennifer, I,too am pro-life. That is why I agree with protecting the lives of U.S. citizens from radical Islamic terrorists whose sole desire is to kill not only Christians & Jews, but also other Muslims who aren’t ‘radicalized’. Jesus cautions us to ” Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” As Christians, we are to show love to our fellow man. The government’s duty is to protect our citizens. Let’s turn this entire matter over to God, trust that nothing happens apart from His divine will, and demonstrate to an unsaved world the peace that passes understanding that should be ruling and reigning in our hearts. Let’s all remain calm and trust that the refugee situation and the vetting will work out for the good of our country. God bless you and other Christians as we enjoy the peace of Christ that passes understanding. Liz

  • Micah 6:8 is my life verse, Jennifer! It may require us going the extra mile to show kindness to someone who thinks differently than we do, but isn’t that what Jesus requires of us? Just from testing the waters on Facebook, I know there are so many folks out there who could truly benefit from reading your words here. I hope and pray they reach those who are having a hard time being kind these days. Blessings!

  • Lynn Morrissey

    Jennifer, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this post (and it took courage, I think, to publish it). Like you, after much prayer, I voted for Evan McMullin (as did my immediate family), and much to the chagrin (and even chastisement and questioning of my faith) by some Christian friends. Their reactions were not kind and really surprised me. Our extended family seems to be split down the middle; and sad to say, at Thanksgiving dinner, I actually had to *kindly* ask family members not to share politics at all (it was part of my table blessing)! Such a request should not have been necessary. Family and friends, especially Christ followers, should be able to share differing viewpoints kindly and reasonably without tempers flaring and insults flying. What was there about this election that seems to have ignited such heated sparks like none other? I think part of it is that each “side” felt they had so much to lose–as if their entire futures depended upon the results. But I think the difficulty, for Christians, is that it’s important we be careful not to make an idol of a political party, candidate, or ideology. Yes, politics affect our daily lives, and yes, the Lord shows us in His Word we are to be responsible citizens (which, in America, involves voting thoughtfully). But a political party or candidate will not save us. God’s Kingdom will always prevail despite our political decisions. He is in charge of His Church. (John MacArthur wrote a wonderful letter on this recently). Politicians can only do so much. And candidates (all) have feet of clay. The irony is that you can think you are voting for a set of values that your candidates support, and then, they change their minds. (This happens, as an example, with SCOTUS justices at various times and it certainly has with other elected officials over the years). When we place all our hope in political candidates, in their policies, in SCOTUS justices, etc., and not all our hope in Jesus Christ, we can become fearful and defensive, and unkind toward those who do not vote as we do. When we start questioning people’s actual faith in Christ, based on our vote, not only are we not kind, but we are presumptuous. Only the Lord Himself knows who are His, and in our hearts, we know this too about ourselves. We need to emulate our Savior who was loving and compassionate. I lost a dear Jewish poet friend two years ago. Actually, about nine months before he died, He received Jesus, Messiah. He asked the Lord to spare him from brain cancer, because he said he wanted nothing more than to spread Jesus’ “lovingkindness” to the world through his poetry. What a worthy goal. May we *all* aspire to it.
    God bless you, dear Jennifer.
    Love
    Lynn

  • I haven’t visited in awhile and after seeing your opening image I wasn’t sure today was the best day. 🙂 I should have known that you would speak from a place of love and grace with a desire for unity. Well done, sister. (Micah 6:8 is my life verse)

  • Vicki_L_Hale

    I would never want to have an intimate relationship with a Trump supporter. No way. Let them inbreed with their own kind.

    • Suzana

      Hi, Vicki.
      You caught my attention. You were tottaly against the post and yet not angry.
      Am I misguided thinking that who is against conservatives are always infuriated?

      • Vicki_L_Hale

        Even Jesus experience righteous anger. (Remember the money changers in the temple?). I wouldn’t necessarily conflate anger with any particular virtue or vice.

        • Suzana

          I thought you were not Christian (or at least outsider). So I hadn’t understood why the use of commenting without insulting.
          Please, forgive me because it’s very hard to make out the difference among synonyms. t seems I’ll never learn English.

          • Vicki_L_Hale

            There are millions of American Christians who do not support Trump. Please do not confuse Trump supporters with genuine Christians. Most are not Christians (or they are Christians In Name Only, which is much, much worse…)

          • Suzana

            But what about the vice-president and 2Cr7:14 and so on?

          • Vicki_L_Hale

            The evidence of Christianity is – and only ever has been – love (John 13:35). Are his actions loving? Is it loving to halt immigration and ban people who have done you no harm? None of the executive orders issued so far by Trump are loving. Hence, he can’t be Christian because he fails the very simple litmus test of love. Many who claim to be Christians do not “have eyes to see” so they aren’t really Christians. They are counterfeits, in rebellion (Ezekiel 12:2). The whole of the law is to love God and love others as yourself. Break that law and Jesus says he will not know you (Matthew 7:23). Trump and his supporters may claim to be Christians, and many evangelicals may believe it, but they are all deceived. He is a false prophet. All who follow him are in rebellion.

          • Suzana

            Christians are identified by their display of God’s love, right. But Christians also are unable to do it on their own. My first reaction is to pull apart from people who hurt me or disagree with me.God wants the opposite. By your first comment, I thought you weren’t a Christian. Thank you for teaching me not to judge, even when you are trying just to understand.

  • Kathy Cooper

    Thank you, Jennifer, for being so open, honest and transparent. I keep quiet at bible study each week while everyone talks about praying for our leaders. Fine in theory but I never heard this at all during the past 8 years. I’m so discouraged by what I see as hypocrisy and I feel like if I speak up I will loose my friends. Your post had me crying tears of relief that at least one person would accept me as I am.

  • Hollyko

    No matter who the president is, Jesus is King. Trust in Him.

  • Cheryl Hatfield

    Kindness seems to be a lost art – in our families, in our church, in our community. My family has been so divided in such a mean spirited way that it’s been nearly unbearable and unresolvable. Thank you for the words of encouragement.
    The small group lesson that I’m teaching on Sunday is all about unity and humility…and this post is one of my teaching tools.

  • Amy Jung

    I think, just like you, I’ve been listening and watching; letting all that is going on simmer. So glad you are courageous enough to take a step out to not only write something but to hit the publish button! I believe the biggest issue that has come to the forefront for me is the lack of love and patience and ability to listen that I’m seeing on all ways of thinking about the issues in our country. So many are talking about hate, but the worst hate I see? It’s the very people accusing others of hate (no matter which “side” is talking). Not sure if that makes sense, but you’ll probably understand because your post seems to show that you’re feeling the same way. Thanks for sharing your heart and a piece of your life with us, Jennifer!

  • Megan Willome

    Thank you for sharing so honestly, Jennifer. And I loved your line about the person who posts about puppies rather than politics. Often that is me (except it’s usually poetry). Part of my reasoning is I want to create a safe space for the people attending my next workshop, despite differences in our political views. Part of it is for my own sanity, as I try to navigate what my role is and is not. Increasingly, I’m looking to the examples set by my parents.

  • super post – will share! (So needed!)

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  • First, your words really come at the right time… it feels like people are making too much room to fight, and not enough room for allowing for grace. Grace says that I can love you while having a different view.
    Grateful for you, Jennifer. This is the message we have to keep propelling forward before division takes over! Amen?
    Second, didn’t even realize I was the featured blog post for the week, so a thousand thank yous for being selected. I pray it helps hearts 🙂
    I may have jumped around the room a little when I saw.
    Maybe. xxoo

  • Nancy Ruegg

    “Let’s love US, more than we love being right.” That’s wise advice we can spread with a wide spatula on more than just politics. How about the little skirmishes that happen in our homes over dishes in the sink, smudges on the fridge, or crumbs on the couch? (M-m-m. All those examples are about food. Can you tell it’s getting close to dinner time?!) Thank you for sharing your experience with us, Jennifer, showing us that with God all things are possible — even living in harmony with those who don’t think like we do!

  • Deb Mechler

    It is uncanny how much your marriage is like ours, including the school board role for my husband! For us, it is usually better to simply avoid the topics that incite tension. In our better moments, we can ask each other what we think out of curiosity instead of debate. After one of our past heated discussions, what came out of my mouth was not formed in my own mind, but was unbidden, transcendent: “This is hard BECAUSE we love each other.” That statement has held us together and brought us closer, as only God can do even in the heart of our conflict. Thank you for describing this so eloquently, and offering practices that really do work.

  • Kathy Pinkerton

    Yes! Yes! Yes! Me too. 🙂 Thank you Jennifer for having the courage to speak up! It is awesome to read your perspective. So refreshing to hear a faith filled woman’s voice on this topic. Love ya, girl!

  • Kathy Cheek

    I appreciate your thorough examining of this, I agree with you and find myself still on shaky legs trying to figure out how to navigate through all the ugliness. This election and this presidency should wake up every Christian to pray pray pray or the enemy is going to use this divisiveness to destroy us. I know God hears our prayers!

    And yes, kindness is a lost art we need to find again!

    Thanks so much for being brave for us and giving so many the words and voice we are trying to find in this!

    God bless,

    Kathy Cheek
    Dallas, Texas

  • JosephPote

    Thank you, Jennifer, for such a beautiful encouraging post!

    Yes, I often find myself feeling alone with strong views…and my wife very often sees things differently from me. God gives us grace to love each other thru it all… 🙂

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  • Well. I’m GLAD it was picked up by Fox News so you would post about it again so I would see this remarkable, kind, wise, balanced piece. It’s a lot of words up there, but they’re all good ones. Thank you for opening a vein and letting your heart flow. I have a feeling before all is said and done, a lot more folks will have opportunity to read and be impacted by your counsel.

    Beautiful post, Jennifer. Well done, friend…bravo.

  • David Lat

    I saw your article reprinted in foxnews.com. I’m quite shocked by the comments. Between you and I, we are world’s apart in our views. What you expressed is fairly normal in other countries. These are shared values across many faiths, philosophies and national laws. I’m sure we would chat about our different views without any rancor. While I expect raw partisanship on Fox, I didn’t expect so many horrible, perverse comments against you. They were unjustified and jaw-dropping. What’s going on? But just to let you know, such extreme people must be a tiny minority in the world. I support your call to T-H-I-N-K and I hope you convince many to do that.

    • Hey there, David. That was kind of you to stop by and share your thoughts. I appreciate your remarks here.

  • Lynn B.

    This is so good!
    Thank you for bravely writing from your heart.

  • Just a standing ovation for both you and Scott and the grace and love you are modeling for the rest of us. Could not love you more!!

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  • June

    Thank you for writing this. So much wisdom. I hope people read it with and open heart and an open mind. Loved it!

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