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Don’t Waste Your Election Season

By July 28, 2016 6 Comments

by Kate Kooyman

Photo credit: flickr user GPS

We still have fourteen weeks to go before this torture is over, and I for one am weary. My friends are announcing Facebook sabbaticals and avoiding family reunions to escape the election season rancor.

I’ve learned from teachers wiser than me that conflict and challenge are often our best opportunities to grow in our discipleship journeys. So I’ve been wondering: what would it look like to turn this election season into a school of growth for the beloved community — to see it as an opportunity to do the hard work of better following Jesus?   

Here are a few ideas I think I’ll try.

    1. Get curious. Less outrage, more questions — specifically questions that are intended to help me understand, not seeking to sneakily prove how right I am.
    2. Be able to articulate the opposing view. If I can’t explain an position, I will resist picking it apart.
    3. Pray. I find it really difficult to be holier-than-thou when I’m talking to God. I will commit to praying for the ones who anger me, and for my own humility, and for the kingdom of God to be revealed.
    4. Diversify my news intake. I clicked over to Red Feed, Blue Feed, and it scared me. I can mix a little National Review in my NPR as a tangible “no” to my own tendency to find media that supports my already-held beliefs.
    5. Laugh. They can take our lives, but they’ll never take our Stephen Colbert (or whoever makes you laugh if you hate Stephen Colbert. Just laugh. It’s really good for you)
    6. Take a challenge. Give a challenge. Last week a stranger emailed me because he disagreed with something I’d written about police officers. We’ve been corresponding (respectfully, and vehemently) via email, and he issued me a challenge: schedule a ride along with a police officer in my city. And then he asked me to suggest an experience that would challenge him to think differently about the Black Lives Matter movement. This is, I think, the community of saints.
    7. Talk about the election in front of a kid. With little ears listening, it’s entirely irrelevant whether I’m right or witty or articulate, only that I’m truthful and kind.
    8. Thank someone in public office. I often give feedback when something happens I don’t like, but I’ll offer a word of thanks to the public servants who represent me. Especially with the ones I didn’t vote for. I’ll find something. Really.
    9. Start listening to someone new. The internet offers an amazing gift: there are people out there who are completely different from me, and they are on Twitter. I’ll follow someone whose perspective is missing from my social circle.
    10. Vote local. What do my sheriff candidates think about how to end mass incarceration? How will county commissioner candidates work toward fair housing practices? I’ll seek opportunities to make my values align with my vote as close to home as possible, even though it’s more work and feels less like cheering for my favorite NFL team.

Someone wiser than me once said, “All shall be well, all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well…” While I know that Julian of Norwich was not subjected to #RNCinCLE or #DNCinPHL, I still maintain she was right. We’ll get there, friends. November 9 will come. The tomb will still be empty. Jesus will still be King.

Until then, let’s not waste this chance to be “devoted to one another in love.”


Kate Kooyman

Rev. Kate Kooyman is a minister of the Reformed Church in America who lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.


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