I had a panic attack yesterday, and you need to know why. To begin with, this post isn’t about me. It isn’t about the election. It relates to both those things, but the story itself is bigger.
I stayed up the night of the election until it was pretty clear who would win the electorate. I fell asleep before it was made official and speeches were given, but I knew for the most part who I’d wake up to see in the headlines.
So yesterday morning when I woke up and saw the headlines, I wasn’t surprised. But I took to scripture to sort through the emotions flooding through me, and to help me sort through the expressions of pain, hatred, exultation, and confusion I’ve seen in the past few days across various social media platforms. I came to Psalm 94, and what a beauty it was. Its words were perfect balm for my soul because they reminded me of a God who is bigger than our election, and who is unquestionably good and caring, especially when we’re not.
As the day carried on, I spoke with my family. We shared a few choice gifs, laughed, and shared that, though we were frustrated, we knew God would work good out of the situation. We agreed that whatever the outcome, the new president would have taken some getting-used-to. We discussed the positives, but I said that I would struggle getting used to a sexual molester in office.
Now, take a breather and don’t be offended by what I just said. I fully acknowledge that all the candidates had skeletons in the closet—and most of those skeletons were either illegal, immoral, or both. I will respect our new president and pray for him, but I will not ignore his character. I would have done the same if the election turned out differently.
I didn’t vote for Trump because he has shown on multiple occasions that he frequently fails to value the personhood and dignity of people different from himself. Minorities. Immigrants. Women. Refugees. Poor. Ultimately, I didn’t trust him to be at the helm of a nation made up of these people. And I woke up this morning to cries of anger, frustration, and hurt, and to people who did not feel safe anymore. Before you call those expressions of feelings ‘overreactions,’ hear me out.
People don’t choose their feelings. They perhaps have some power to shape them, but if you’re struck by a wave of fear, chances are, you didn’t choose to feel it. If past experiences have taught you to be afraid, to question your safety, to guard yourself, those conditioned responses come from how people have treated you in the past. So if my black friends, or my foreign friends, or my women friends felt fear at the election, we all have a duty to show them more Christian love. We owe them the simple kindness to hear their fears out, and to help them work toward a solution.
No matter who you voted for, listen to the people around you. Don’t belittle them. Don’t call them names. Don’t label them as entitled millenials, uneducated racists, hysterical women, reverse racists, or immigrants who don’t contribute to society. Their fear is real. And you should listen to it.
I’ve been sexually molested. Take a moment to let the bile rise up in your throat, and viscerally feel my statement as your sister. It’s my story, and it’s real. No one can deny my feelings and my fears. It doesn’t matter when, or who’s to blame, and that’s not the point. I wasn’t raped, and there are so many people worse off than me. This story isn’t about me anyway. I don’t want your pity, but I might accept your hugs. 😉 This story is about valuing other people’s stories. Because this election may mean more for them than it does for you. It may mean different things for them. And in some cases, whether their responses are rational or not, they may not be able to control them.
I had a panic attack today. And you need to know why. As I explained to my family that Trump was accused of doing the same thing someone had done to me, and even worse, by brother responded with confusion. He hadn’t heard that. He didn’t hear the infamous ‘pussy’ tapes, and he doesn’t know about the hanging legal accusations. He asked why no one could prove it. He expressed outrage (in the form of multiple emojis). I had to explain to him about rape culture. I explained that it’s more or less pointless to take someone to court who could destroy your life and still win because of his money. And as I explained to my trusting little brother what the man who will be our president was accused of, I had a panic attack. I wasn’t in control of my response, but the innocent outrage from my little brother was a fresh experience of the injustice not just toward me, but toward innumerable others. I lost it.
I’m better now, and I’m relating this story to help you understand what it may be like for other people to hear the news of the election. Show them love, especially if you don’t agree with them. Be kind, especially if you don’t think they deserve it. Be caring, and listen to their stories. Be courageous, and show the bravery to recognize that their story is different from yours, and they experience the world in a different, and perhaps even more difficult way.
Here’s a little something to make you smile after that rough topic.
Go watch Kid President explain how to disagree kindly. ❤