Social Issues, Theology

To build a table or a fence: thoughts at the end of the Trump administration

I don’t know about you, but the last four years of Donald Trump completely upended my life.

I learned that a few close childhood friends secretly believed I was a moral monster for not being a single-issue voter. I saw blatantly racist posts on social media from people I once respected. My social world has always been small, but in the last four years it drastically shrunk. My heart was shattered by those losses – just as much, if not more so, than any romantic breakup I’ve ever had.

Not Different Opinions, But Different Moralities

Coming from a Jewish family, it’s difficult to explain just how horrifying it was to hear my friends make excuse after excuse for a president who regularly used racist and antisemitic dog whistles; who emboldened white supremacists and inspired violence against minorities.

That was the reason my family immigrated to the United States from Poland. I grew up hearing these stories. They shaped me more than I knew.

The horror I felt in response to my friends’ support of Trump was like ancestral PTSD. There is no “reaching across the aisle” in that situation.

I’m less concerned about repairing those friendships as I am about setting firm boundaries going forward.

Building Tables Over Fences

To be perfectly honest, I feel the same way about Trump supporters as I do about my rapist. I don’t wish them any harm, but I sure as hell don’t want them anywhere near me.

But I think about the concepts of grace and repentance a lot. I am grateful for people like my husband, who are much better at being kind and civil when they don’t feel it. Josh is a person who wants to build a longer table that includes Trump voters to try and understand them, while I would rather build a higher fence.

I know Jesus would choose building the longer table. But I don’t think that’s the right task for me at the moment. This…is all too raw and personal right now. There are too many complex emotions to sort through. My immediate priority is simply to heal.

Maybe, with some distance, I can work on the forgiveness and reconciliation part. But to say I need to build that table now is a bit like asking a woman to forgive her assailant right after being assaulted. Like whoa, give her some time, the violence just happened.

I can still feel the whiplash.

The Twist in the Great Commission

In my more lucid moments, my fear for people on the Left is that they become more like their enemies on the Right in their pursuit of justice: adopting the tactics of bullying, playing dirty, being fueled by hate. Which isn’t righteous or just at all.

People…can I tell you that I recognized my deep need for Jesus more times during the Trump administration than at any other time in my Christian life? Because I could see how I was starting to act like my “enemies,” at least in my own head.

That was…terrifying.

I may act like my “team” is on the right side of history, but really, true righteousness isn’t earned on our own. That knowledge kept smacking me upside the face.

There is a twist in the Great Commission that I wasn’t warned about. It’s how often you end up evangelizing to yourself.

Photo by Hannah Domsic on Unsplash

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