How to Love When Thy Neighbor is Thy Enemy

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Love Thy Neighbor…” (CC BY-NC 2.0) by Orignaux Moose

The holiday season is upon us, and for many, it has been a rough transition amid the post election day air. Tensions are high and yet the season is calling to us that “it is better to give than to receive” and “to love your neighbor as you love yourself.”  How do we navigate season’s greetings when so many are still dressing the wounds of trauma and fear? Lately “love thy neighbor” seems synonymous with “love thy enemy”. It seems simple enough to love your neighbor, but your enemy? Not only to love them in a passive I’m-a-Christian-so-love-is-kinda-my-thing-way, but to love them the way that we are supposed to love ourselves, the way Christ loves us. That’s radical.

I don’t have any easy answers, but something happened to me recently that caused my heart to feel “strangely warmed”, to quote John Wesley. On Saturday I was met at my front door with some volunteers from the local Southern Baptist Church. They showed up to bring me some food for Thanksgiving. Mind you,  I didn’t sign up to receive it, they merely coordinated with my child’s school to donate food to their neighbors because “they can”. Out of their abundance they wanted to bless their neighbors. No strings attached. No one asked how much our household income was or if we were worthy of what they were offering. I wasn’t expecting much. I thought maybe a few canned goods, maybe a plate of classic Thanksgiving staples, enough for our family of three.

Nope.

I was overwhelmed. They brought us not three plates, but three large boxes of food including the 13 pound turkey that we prepared today for our family. I kept thinking we really don’t even need this. Surely there are families out there that are more in need of this than we are. Why us? I was just so undone by this unexpected, but appreciated blessing. Here I was in the hallway of my apartment, holding hands in prayer with these Southern Baptists, who statistically probably did vote opposite us and all I could feel was the love of Christ radiate from them. This was the closest thing to a comforting word that I had received since the election. Even if they were unaware of how it was being received, even if they wouldn’t have wanted to send that message, I grabbed the moment and I held on tight. 

I wasn’t physically in need of these groceries, but my spirit was desperate for an act of love from the Evangelical church. In the wake of the election results, my family felt like our world was turned upside down. We felt betrayed in a sense by some of our friends and family, not because they didn’t vote for our candidate, but because of the overwhelming apathy in response to the trauma and anxiety we have been facing since.

Radio Silence.

Moving forward, we must resist injustice on all fronts, stand for what is right, not waver on speaking the truth, shine light in dark places, and peacefully protest, but we need not withhold love while doing all of the above. I never thought that days before Thanksgiving I would be holding hands with a couple of Baptists that just decided that they wanted to spread some holiday cheer. Honestly, I don’t really know how to love when your neighbor turns out to be your enemy, but I think it looks something like this.

♥ MM

Sylvia Plath’s Post Election Day Advice

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Powells – The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath” (CC BY 2.0) by Photos by Mavis

On November 9th about half of the country woke up absolutely heartbroken about the results of the 2016 presidential election. I stayed up and watched in disbelief as I saw state after state get called in favor of Donald Trump. The outcome of this election crushed me and made many people like myself feel less safe. I cycled between sobbing and rage until I felt cold and empty. Then I turned to Twitter. And the first thing I saw was this tweet that totally resonated with me.

Oh Twitter.
Oh Sylvia.

For a moment I felt like I could breathe and let myself just be in silence for a bit. I started thinking about what other musings, advice, or lament that my dear Sylvia might have for me. As I lay ugly crying in my bed, I remembered this gem.

“There must be quite a few things a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them. Whenever I’m sad I’m going to die, or so nervous I can’t sleep, or in love with somebody I won’t be seeing for a week, I slump down just so far and then I say: “I’ll go take a hot bath.”
― Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

I took her up on it.
I washed the snot from my face.
I was still a wreck, but I at least had a moment of repose.

“Let’s face it: I’m scared, scared and frozen. First, I guess I’m afraid for myself… the old primitive urge for survival. It’s getting so I live every moment with terrible intensity. It all flowed over me with a screaming ache of pain… remember, remember, this is now, and now, and now. Live it, feel it, cling to it. I want to become acutely aware of all I’ve taken for granted. When you feel that this may be good-bye, the last time, it hits you harder.”
― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

The responses that I have seen from the right towards people on the left that minimize the trauma and grief felt by so many families that may be saying goodbye and parting ways upon Trump’s first days in office jarred me. Can’t we reason together? If you want to justify your vote for Trump, is there room enough to also justify the safety of your neighbor? How about some understanding?

“Can you understand? Someone, somewhere, can you understand me a little, love me a little? For all my despair, for all my ideals, for all that – I love life. But it is hard, and I have so much – so very much to learn.”
― Sylvia Plath, The Journals of Sylvia Plath

I don’t want you to tell me that my future will be ok, while endorsing a man who promises that it won’t.

“I also hate people to ask cheerfully how you are when they know you’re feeling like hell and expect you to say “fine”.
-Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

Let me yell.
Let me vent.
Let me cry.
Let me seethe.

Build a wall? Will you be my wall, neighbor? A soundboard that I can bounce my pain off of, in hopes of having a shred of solace bounce back to me? Just a little understanding, is all.

“I want to taste and glory in each day, and never be afraid to experience pain; and never shut myself up in a numb core of non-feeling, or stop questioning and criticizing life and take the easy way out. To learn and think: to think and live; to live and learn: this always, with new insight, new understanding, and new love.”
― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

In all of this, please do not confuse my passion for hatred. I love you neighbor, but I will not censor myself to show my love. Understand that it’s not that I am hopeless, it’s just that now I hope less. I do not wish for doom. I don’t want to “let it burn”. I know you want to make America great “again”, but I think that people like you and people like me and people that don’t look or talk or think or pray like either of us are what make us great. And more than anything…

Please, I want so badly for the good things to happen.”
– Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

♥ MM

16 Songs to Get You Through Election Day

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A few weeks ago I was driving to the grocery store and listening to Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory album in the car. “With You” came on and I started cracking up because a line from the song reminded me of something Hillary Clinton had said early on in her campaign and has repeated since. Can you imagine Hillary Clinton getting inspiration for her campaign by jamming out to Linkin Park? Hilarious. So I started thinking about other songs that remind me of various moments in this unbelievable election season.

Well, it’s almost over folks. The anger. The passion. The name calling. The awkward family gatherings. The Fear. Let’s hope we can put most of these to bed by tomorrow night. For now I leave you with 16 songs – dedications if you will –  to the 2016 presidential candidates.  I hope, even if for a moment, you can laugh instead of cry on Election Day.

Hillary Clinton

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Bernie Sanders

25196039674_66387db7f4_o.jpgBernie Sanders” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Gage Skidmore

Donald Trump

29496467614_705445fafb_o       “Donald Trump” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Gage Skidmore
Brilliant list of songs to Trump here.

Ted Cruz

8571613486_2192245db0_o.jpgTed Cruz” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Gage Skidmore

Ben Carson

16398673351_6018d2cd64_o-1Ben Carson” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Gage Skidmore

Marco Rubio

24612452556_acfffb202f_o.jpgMarco Rubio” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Gage Skidmore

John Kasich

23990066154_35515b0a00_o.jpgJohn Kasich” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Gage Skidmore

Jill Stein

25619634422_5c366af3d8_o.jpgJill Stein” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Gage Skidmore

Gary Johnson

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Gary Johnson” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Gage Skidmore

What songs would you add to the list? Comment below!

♥ MM