To all those who woke up overwhelmed by fear and anxiety, who feel uncertain about their place in the world or how to deal with people today…Welcome to my world. I’m sorry you’ve been routed here and in a couple of days we can talk about the implications of all that has happened. But for now, as a frequent resident here, I offer some small advice on navigating this place.
More importantly, be conscious of your breathing. Take in a deep breath and let it remind you that you are here and that the God who gave you breath still loves you and still has the world in hand.
2. Limit your media consumption
Very little new information will be on the news for the next 48 hours. If it makes you feel better, set a news alert on your phone or email for your worst fear. Then walk away. If your worst fear really comes to pass, you’ll know. Do not wallow in the noise; it will only make you feel worse.
3. Set aside time to journal
Posting on social media does not count as journaling. Sit down, with actual paper, and pour out everything your thinking and feeling. Be honest and uncertain and contradictory, and whatever else you are without the fear that anyone else will see or judge it. But only do it for a little while. Set a time limit and then shift to something else. (see above comment on wallowing)
4. Spend time with people you love.
Get extra hugs. Cook a special dinner. Have coffee with friends and talk about anything but the election. Make someone you care about laugh. You are not alone. And even if some of the people you love voted differently than you, they still love you and care about you and you should still care about them.
5. Do something creative
Draw, paint, write, sew, dance, weave, play an instrument, sing in the shower. Whatever you love or have always wanted to try. Remember that truth and beauty come in many forms.
6. Read something deep and timeless
(yes, I’m a pastor, I mean scripture) If this is scripture, read from something you don’t read very often. Wander unfamiliar paths, because you may find it easier to let the Spirit lead you there. If its not scripture, let it be something hopeful and worthwhile. May I recommend Parker Palmer, Henri Nouwen, Dietrich Bonhoeffer or Julian of Norwich.
7. Make a (realistic) plan
You cannot control the world. But you do control your response to it. Remind yourself of that often. Then tomorrow, or the next day, ask what change you need to see in the world and how you can bring it about. Focus on the thing you care about most. Then make a plan. Share your hopes with others. Fight for what you feel called too.
The truth is none of us knows what the future holds. In moments of disappointment and fear it can be easy to think the worst. But trust me, you don’t want to set up camp here; this emotional landscape is not hospitable to life. Today, do what you need to do to return to hope.