What does the Lord require of me?

November 8, 2016 was a spiritual turning point for me – the date that my country, a nation founded on the principle that we are all created equal, elected as its president a man who promotes bigotry. The election outcome was the catalyst for some deep soul-searching on my part. I am one of the 19% of white evangelicals who voted against Trump because his self-centered and meanspirited message is antithetical to the gospel. That voting statistic alone makes me question the purpose of American evangelism. But the election also shed light on my own purpose and need for spiritual growth in a way that only something really dark can do.

When I think about how soul-changing this election is for me, I am reminded of another important date in my spiritual journey – April 20, 1999. That was the day that two high school seniors massacred twelve students and a teacher at Columbine High School. It shook me to the core. Safe and secure in my suburban oasis, I had not attended church in years. Columbine reminded me how much darkness and evil there is in the world and reawakened my desire to “walk in the light, as he is in the light.” An unimaginable tragedy renewed my faith in God and reaffirmed whose side I am on.

The presidential election also shook me to the core. My prayers were not answered, but my faith was strengthened. The election showed me how significantly politics and propaganda have corrupted American evangelism over the past few decades, but also confirmed my purpose as a wholehearted disciple of Jesus:  to love my neighbor as myself. I sought and found comfort and courage from others who share my sorrow and my desire to make the world a kinder, more loving place to those who don’t know Jesus.

In trying to figure out where to go from here, reflecting on my desire for social justice, I find myself drawn to the words of the prophet Micah:

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8, NIV)


My sorrow at Trump’s election stems from empathy for my neighbors – not just the ones in my mostly white, upwardly mobile neighborhood. To love your neighbor as you love yourself requires the ability to see with the eyes of another, hear with the ears of another and feel with the heart of another. Empathy is the ability to step outside of your own emotions, out of your own self-centered point of view, and to see things from the perspective of another.

For me, the seeds of empathy were sown when I was a child living in poverty in a small town in the Midwest. I was ashamed when people in our community looked down on me and my family because we were poor, especially when we lived on public assistance after my parents’ divorce. My shyness made me feel even more socially inadequate. I felt like there was something wrong with me because I didn’t open up to people or make friends easily. I understood what it feels like to be marginalized because people don’t think you are good enough.

By loving me for who I am, by forgiving my sins, by providing everything I need, God showed me what is good – love and mercy. He showed me my inherent worth and the worth of all human beings. He planted a seed of empathy in my heart.


I did not realize how deeply the seed of empathy had been planted in me and how well God had watered it until I started thinking about the social issues that face our country today. Like Martin Luther King, Jr., I believe that we should be judged based on the content of our character and not the color of our skin. I believe in the American Dream, that we should all have the opportunity to reach our God-given potential regardless of the circumstances of our birth. I am concerned about income inequality because I have seen how corporate America takes care of those at the top, even if they don’t perform. I feel for Muslims and others who might face religious discrimination because I believe in the freedom to choose what to believe. The LGBT community deserves to be treated with compassion because we are all human beings, regardless of sexual orientation or marital status.

The founding fathers of my country recognized that we are all created equal. They wrote that our Creator gave us certain unalienable rights, rights that should not be restrained by human laws – rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Unfortunately, our founders were fallible human beings who did not extend these rights to everyone. Others had to fight for social justice.


To be merciful is to be forgiving and compassionate and to not give people what they deserve. Most of us want mercy because we are imperfect and we make mistakes. We want a second chance. We want the benefit of the doubt. But while we want mercy for ourselves, we tend to want justice when others do wrong. We think they should have to pay for what they did. But you can’t have it both ways. If you want mercy, in all fairness, you must be merciful yourself.

Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy (Matthew 5:7,  NIV). It is easy for me to be compassionate towards people I like but Jesus set a much higher standard. He said, love your enemies, even pray for them. He said “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful (Luke 6:36, NIV). God is kind to the ungrateful and to the wicked. He makes his sun shine on both the evil and the good. He sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:44-45).


After the election, when I shared my grief on Facebook, my uncle told me to consider the points of view of people who are distressed about the direction the country is going. He said that millions of people prayed for divine intervention and that when we pray that God’s will be done, we must accept it. The implication was that since Trump won, he is God’s answer to what ails America. Although I believe that God does have a plan for mankind and his plan includes letting the wicked rule nations, I would caution anyone who assumes that Trump has God’s blessing. Read the Sermon on the Mount. Read the parable of The Good Shepherd. Read the parable of the sheep and the goats.

While I empathize with those who worry about the economy, sexual immorality, terrorism, and other issues, I do not believe that God wants this nation to put its trust in a selfish con man. No matter how hard I try, I can’t understand how good people can put their trust in a man who promotes hatred against the “others.” Donald Trump showed me the kind of man he is with every careless word out of his mouth. Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. Jesus said that a wicked man brings evil out of the evil stored up in him. I have no reason to believe that Donald Trump will suddenly become a righteous man who does good things just because evangelicals voted for him.

Those of us who mourned the results of the election have been told to shut up, suck it up, stop throwing stones at sinners, stop using all those words (bigot, misogynist, racist, xenophobic, etc.) that describe Donald Trump to a T. These words just divide us, they say. The truth is, these words make Trump’s supporters uncomfortable. By attempting to silence those of us who reveal Trump for what he is, they are doing what they can to try to reduce that psychological tension known as cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is the discomfort we feel when our beliefs or behaviors conflict with each other. So they tell themselves that a conservative Supreme court nominee is more important than any of the unrighteous things Donald Trump has said and done. They tell themselves that the fiscal deficit is more important than Christian values. They tell themselves that everything will be okay if Trump just surrounds himself with good advisors. They tell themselves that Hillary Clinton is the most corrupt politician that ever lived.

I will never understand how Trump’s supporters, especially the Christians, were able to strike a political bargain with an evil man. You give me X, I’ll ignore that command to love your neighbor as yourself. But I can understand the power of deception. We were bombarded with more propaganda and outright deception during this campaign than ever before. And I understand the power of confirmation bias. We are prone to disregard facts that conflict with our preconceived notions.

What does the Lord require of me

For many of us, Trump’s victory was a call to justice, a call to stand up for the oppressed and the marginalized. I don’t yet know what this will look like for me but I am praying that God will put my compassion into action. I certainly never imagined myself as an activist but maybe that is why God gave me the courage to quit my meaningless job just a  month before the election.

The discomfort of the good people who voted for Trump has shown me that I need to be merciful to them. I don’t know what they are struggling with or how they were able to come to a decision that I could never make. I do know that no good will come from constantly criticizing their decision. What is done is done. I will give them the benefit of the doubt. I will pray for them because I believe they will eventually realize that they made a huge mistake.

And as much as I don’t want to, I will pray for the wicked man who will soon occupy the most powerful position in this country. He doesn’t know my Lord but I want him to be a good leader. I want him to be a good man. I want him to walk humbly with my God. My God is merciful to the wicked and the unrighteous and that’s what he requires of me.

The Power of Perspective

This is a post I wrote at the beginning of 2016 on Blogger. Perspective is truly powerful. I find that I often have to change my perspective when things do not work out the way I hope they will. And sometimes, I have to dig deep and find the courage to change the things I can.


Last year I struggled with job dissatisfaction. I found myself see-sawing between hope and despair, complacency and desperation. The year began with anxiety about upcoming layoffs and the reorganization of our department. My boss and a few other people were laid off. Within months several other people resigned and we struggled to fill the voids. I also struggled to adapt to new management styles. My department was reorganized a second time at the end of the year and I was assigned to a new manager – my third within a one-year period.

Towards the end of the year, my pastor encouraged me with a sermon about Jesus being with us in the storms of life. He asked the congregation to share our prayer requests. I am not comfortable speaking in public so I kept my struggles to myself. But in listening to the concerns that were shared that day, it put my own struggle in perspective. Being unhappy with a job pales in comparison to worries about cancer or the illness of a child.

After the year-end reorganization, I was offered another position in our department. Again, my perspective changed. I felt hopeful. Even though not much has changed, I decided to see this as a fresh beginning.

Perspective is powerful. If you change your perspective, you can completely change your attitude. Here are just a few quotes on perspective that I found on Google Images:

  • What you see depends not only on what you look at, but also on where you look from.
  • If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. – Dr. Wayne Dyer
  • Perspective is the way we see things when we look at them from a certain distance and it allows us to appreciate their true value. – Rafael E. Pino
  • Some see a weed, some see a wish.
  • A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; An optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. – Winston Churchill
  • We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses. – Abraham Lincoln
  • When life gets blurry, adjust your focus.
  • Life is like a camera – focus on what’s important, capture the good times, develop from the negative and if things don’t work out, take another shot!

Perspective is often thought of as a choice between optimism and pessimism. I think of the image of a glass half filled with water with the message: Optimists see a glass that is half full. Pessimists see a glass that is half empty. Pessimists see a weed; optimists see a wish. Pessimists see the thorns; optimists see the roses. Pessimists see the difficulty; optimists see the opportunity.

Although I see the wisdom in choosing an optimistic attitude, I have to admit that I am not naturally an optimist. I would like to be optimistic but my natural inclination is to worry about what can go wrong. It is not that I always expect things to go wrong, but I am realistic. Things do go wrong. There are thorns. There are obstacles. I’ve learned to expect the unexpected.

Perspective is not just an attitude; it is a point of view, a way of looking at life. That point of view is influenced by our personalities. According to David Keirsey, author of Please Understand Me II, people with my temperament, Guardians, are the pessimists. My type tends to be “fatalistic” in looking back, believing that “pain and suffering are unavoidable.” Guardians are also more likely to think that events are part of a divine plan. On a day to day basis, we are stoical, enduring pain and hardship without complaining or showing emotion.

It is humbling to see my personality type described in such dark terms. Galen, a Roman physician, thought that the balance of the four humors or bodily fluids determined behavior. No doubt, I would have been deemed “melancholic” – prudent, cautious, realistic.

Given my natural tendencies, in my search for the right perspective, a more positive perspective, I have to make a conscious decision to reframe my point of view. I have to intentionally adjust my focus when life gets blurry, as it did for me last year. I have to focus on what is important, develop from the negatives and take another shot!

As I look around me, I see so much to be grateful for – my faith, my health, friends and family, and even my job. I see that other people are struggling with issues that are much more challenging. My heart goes out to them. I am learning to see the world with grace-filled eyes.

As I look behind me, I see the lesson learned from my struggle. From a certain distance, I see that I let myself become bitter about the corporate layoffs, so much so that it colored my outlook for the future in a bad way. I was more irritable and less kind. Things weren’t the way I wanted them to be so I made a mountain out of a molehill. It is time to let it go. It’s time to focus on what’s important.

As I look ahead, I don’t expect to see nothing but roses. I expect that there will be thorns. I do not find strength and inspiration in imagining a glass that is half full. Instead, I think about the lessons I’ve learned in running. Don’t think about how far you have to go. Run as far as that tree up ahead. Then focus on the next tree. If you need to take a break and walk awhile, that’s okay. Every step gets you closer to your goal.

I envision the steps of the Challenge Hill at Philip S. Miller Park in Castle Rock, CO – two hundred steps that climb 178 feet in elevation. From the bottom, the hill looks steep. But if you see the stairs as individual steps and keep your eyes on the steps in front of you, the challenge is not so daunting. Step, breathe, exhale. Step, breathe, exhale (gasp). 50, 100, 150, 200. You did it! And the view is much better from the top.

A Letter to My Evangelical Pastor

Dear Pastor,

Like millions of Americans, I went to bed on election night shocked by the early results of the presidential election. I couldn’t bear to watch it. I cried. I slept fitfully. I woke in the middle of the night to look at the news on my phone and my fears were confirmed. I wept some more. I prayed. As I lay in bed, I sung the words to Isaiah 41:10 in my head: Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee;  yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

But I am dismayed. I am among the 20% of evangelical Christians who voted against Donald Trump – yes, not for Clinton, but against Trump. I did not expect Clinton to save my country but I know that she is well informed and capable and I trusted her to be a decent human being. Flawed, but decent. I voted against the man chosen by evangelicals because I find Trump’s words and behavior not just deplorable, but the complete opposite of my Savior, Jesus Christ. I cannot excuse his words away in exchange for political power. I cannot listen to his voice because over the loud clanging of throw them out! I hear the voice of Jesus, the voice of the Good Shepherd saying Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

I am dismayed with the election results because non-believers are watching. A year ago, my atheist niece posted an article about evangelical support for Donald Trump and I had to respond to it because I could not fathom how anyone who believes in the gospel could support him. Anyone can say they are a Christian; many people culturally identify as Christians but have no personal relationship with Christ. I thought about how the word evangelical has lost its meaning – spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ. I became so uncomfortable with the label evangelical that I changed my Facebook profile to born again believer. On my blog, I wrote about the puzzle of evangelical Christian support for Trump, trying to understand how this could be possible.

You suggested that the reason Christians might worry about a Trump presidency is a lack of trust. You reminded us that God is big enough. You seem to think that the faith of those who grieve this election outcome is not big enough, that we put too much faith in a candidate. You are wrong. Jesus is my King of Kings and Lord of Lords. When I pray the prayer that Jesus taught me, I pray that His kingdom will come, that His will be done. I know that He is God and I am not. But still I grieve – because I love.

Those of us who vowed Never Trump worry for others because we know that millions of non-white Americans live in fear. We worry that Muslims will be targeted for their religious beliefs. We worry because racism still exists. We saw Donald Trump shamelessly promote the “birther” lie in an attempt to delegitimize Obama’s presidency. We saw how easily and quickly whites dismissed the concerns of the Black Lives Matter movement. We worry because we believe that women deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and that no man, not even a celebrity, has the right to touch a woman without her consent. We worry about Mexican immigrants who live with the threat of deportation and being separated from their families. We worry about all the “others” who have not yet put trust in God because we know how wicked people can be, especially when they are swayed by the words of a demagogue.

My faith is strong. I know that my God is in control of this. I know that my God was in control during the Holocaust. My God was on this throne during the Inquisition. My God had a plan for the American Civil Rights Movement. He had a plan for Apartheid in South Africa. But knowing that God has a plan, knowing that God is in control, knowing that God is big enough for this – this does not lessen my grief.

Today, I feel disconnected from the church because I don’t understand the people who sit next to me in the pews. I look around me knowing that as many as four out of five of my Christian brothers and sisters voted for a man who is motivated by anger and a desire for revenge, not by the desire to love God and to love one another.

What are they hearing when they hear love your neighbor as yourself? Are they asking of Jesus, who is my neighbor? Today, when I read the parable of the Good Samaritan, Christ’s response to that question, I see the Good Muslim, the Good Refugee, the Good Mexican. What are evangelicals hearing when they read, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me?  Do they think it only means other Christians? I don’t think so. Jesus was a contrarian and he pushes us to love in a way that is hard. Love your enemies. Bless those who curse you.

The world is watching to see how Christians respond to a Trump presidency.  Although I worry about what lies ahead (worrying is part of my nature), I trust that God will use this for good. God has lit a fire in me – I will use my voice to stand up for the objects of Trump’s anger – fellow human beings. And though I cannot bear to watch or listen to your president-elect (I can’t put the word “my” in front of his name), I will pray that good people will advise him. I pray that he will be humbled. I pray that the same God who redeemed Saul will redeem the unrepentant man who will soon hold the most powerful position in this country.

With Deepest Sorrow,

A Born Again Believer

Mourning for America

Tuesday night I watched the election results until it was clear that Donald Trump had a really good chance of winning. I was shocked that such an evil man was embraced by millions of Americans. I cried and went to bed hoping the final results would be different. I slept fitfully. I dreamed that there were big hairy tarantulas on the walls of my living room. When we hit one of them, a bunch of smaller spiders came out. Then they got bigger right before our eyes. We searched the house frantically for insecticide and sprayed it liberally all over the place.

In the middle of the night, I got up and checked the election results. I wept again, worrying about my country. I went back to sleep and dreamed that Trump was walking through the streets in a victory march, triumphant. I was angry; this should not have happened. As I struggled for sleep, I remembered a verse I learned as a teenager:

Isaiah 41:10 King James Version (KJV)

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

I was comforted by these words because they remind me that God is with me.  I believe that my God is in power regardless of who the president is. He will strengthen me as He always has.

But in this  moment, I am dismayed. I had been praying every day that Trump would be defeated, not because I am a fan of Hillary Clinton but because he is a narcissistic demagogue. Hillary was a flawed candidate, certainly not the person I would have chosen if her opponent had been a decent human being. But Trump is not a decent human being. His message is the complete antithesis of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I will not listen to or respect a leader who is motivated by anger and hatred and by the desire to elevate himself onto the highest public pedestal so that he can continue his spectacle of self-worship. I will keep my eyes on the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

I feel like a modern-day Jeremiah weeping for my nation. My pastor and other people of faith have tried to reassure me that God is in control. I trust that He is. But that does not minimize my grief. There is a time for lamenting. God understands this. He feels the pain of my grieving heart.

I mourn this outcome and what it says about the hearts of the American people. I mourn the loss of decency in the way that we communicate with each other. I mourn the lack of compassion for immigrants, refugees, blacks, and Muslims. I mourn the lack of respect for women. I mourn the lack of sensitivity towards the disabled.

I feel betrayed by friends I thought I knew. Now I find myself asking (to myself, obviously), who in the hell are you? What kind of person are you? Why does it not bother you that the person who will hold the highest office in this land treats women as objects, worthless unless they are model-perfect? Why does it not bother you that he thinks women are his for the taking because he is a celebrity? Why does it not bother you that he shamelessly mocked a disabled person? Why does it not bother you that he does not respect the religious freedom of Muslims? Why does it not bother you that he threatens the freedom of the press? Why does it not bother you that he threatens to sue anyone who angers him?

I feel let down by other people of faith. I read that over 80% of white Christians voted for the unrepentant man who clearly does not love others as he loves himself, who clearly does not love God with all his being. Yesterday I read a story on the Sojourners website, O My Soul Faint Not, from another Christian woman who is struggling with the thought of how she can go to church knowing that she will be sitting next to people who voted for Trump. I struggle with that too.

“How can I go to church again?” I asked my mom this morning. “How can I sit there, soaking in the Gospel of grace and love, beside people who chose fear and hate over compassion and justice?”

Tomorrow, I am supposed to get together with a group of five women from my church for a Bible Study. I struggle with this too because my faith is vastly different from theirs. I don’t despise President Barack Obama. I don’t believe that Hillary Clinton is a corrupt criminal. I don’t think America should turn its back on Syrian or Latin American refugees. I don’t resent the needy. I don’t fit in and I don’t want to. Because I hear his voice: Love your neighbor as yourself.

It will take some time for me to come to terms with my new reality. As much as I don’t like the election results, it strengthened my resolve. It clarified my purpose. I struggled for years as an introvert to find my voice. Now that I have found it, I know how to use it: to be a light in the darkness, to spread the message of love that my savior taught me.

Knowing God

On the Proverbs 31 Ministries Facebook page, Lysa Terkeurst wrote that she has been saying a simple prayer each morning:

Lord I want to see You. I want to hear You. I want to know You, so I can follow hard after You.

I love this simple prayer. It reminds me of Lauren Daigle’s song “First” which is also about seeking God and knowing Him.

Before I bring my need

I will bring my heart

Before I lift my cares

I will lift my arms

I wanna know You

I wanna find You

In every season

In every moment

Before I bring my need

I will bring my heart

And seek You

To know and follow God is my heart’s prayer too, especially lately, with all the negativity in the world. At times like these, when faced with difficult choices to make, I want to follow God wholeheartedly and trust that He is in control.

Just a few weeks ago, I took a leap of faith and left my job of eight years not knowing what I am going to do next. I want to hear God and know what His plan is for me.

What does it mean to me to know God? To know God is:

  • to see a glimpse of his power and intelligence through the wonder of Creation
  • to revere Him because he is holy, all-knowing, all-powerful, and omnipresent
  • to see myself realistically; to be humbled. In seeing God’s perfection, I see how flawed I am. In seeing God’s power, I see how helpless I am.
  • to know just what is so amazing about grace because I know how wretched I am
  • to fully experience His mercy and forgiveness
  • to know that I am loved more than I can fathom
  • to trust that He will work everything out for my good. He has my back.
  • to trust that He is in control
  • to understand the kind of heart He has as demonstrated by Jesus Christ.
  • to know that He will never leave me nor forsake me
  • to fear Him and to desire to keep His commandments, knowing that He is a just and jealous God.
  • to be comforted in my sorrow
  • to be comforted when I am afraid. He is my refuge and strength.
  • to be thankful for the way He takes care of me and makes sure I have all I need
  • to have hope because He has promised that someday everything will be restored to its original glory. He will triumph over evil.
  • to want to glorify Him with my life
  • to know that I will spend eternity in his glorious presence

As much as I know God today through His word and His presence in my life, there is so much more I want to know. Lord, I want to know You. I will bring my heart and seek you first.