What’s Next?

So we’re wondering what to do now? What’s next? Whatever you think of the results of the election or the process that got us here, I don’t know many people who are really happy about it. We’re glad it’s over, but it’s not really over. I think there’s a lot of work to do and I’m not talking about forming a Cabinet or a transition team.

I’m thinking about how to put some substance into this idea of unity, bridging divides, healing after all the hateful talk. You don’t just let it go. It stays inside you. Your anger and hurt doesn’t just go away. And a lot of people are afraid.

I remember the years I spent as an interim pastor. I planned and led events looking at congregation history, church culture, unwritten rules, hopes and expectations. I’d always tell people that the main purpose was not finding “the answer.” The main purpose was to get people together to talk and tell stories, to think about their life together, and to listen to one another. The biggest benefit was intangible. Something happened to the people in that congregation just by spending time listening to each other, especially after a conflict. The outcome eventually was healing. If we took the time to listen.

So my prescription for what to do next is to talk to each other. And I mean talk to people who didn’t vote with you, who posted things you were offended by, people about whom you make judgmental assumptions. I’m talking about hard work here. Listening to people whom you disagree with to try to learn why they think and vote like they do.

I realize that I’m giving myself more work to do here. Since I’m the pastor and I’m giving this advice, I need to walk the talk. I need to organize something to bring people together to listen and talk – across these supposed divides. So, hold me accountable. Help me.

My hope is that we’ll find common ground, that maybe we’ll change for the better, that we can decide to stop cutting each other down. In the end, I don’t believe in sides, in kinds of people. I’m idealistic enough to believe that we are all human beings and that we can find common purpose.

You know there are only two kinds of people in the world, don’t you? The kind who believe there are two kinds of people and the kind who know better!

We can only discover what’s next by exploring, talking to each other, and making a commitment to listening to each other and accepting one another with all our differences — as God accepts each one of us.

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