Hurricane Donald

I recently had to face my offensive harshness with telemarketers. For the first time I saw one as a fellow human who was struggling, stressed, and locked into a job he hated. And my glorious Edness had just made his load heavier. That epiphany broke something in me that needed breaking.

The sudden exposure (even in private) of a bad habit or hurtful way is one of the most humiliating and painful episodes in life. I fully understand the Apostle Paul’s harrowing question, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

But, those moments are also essential and helpful. We all need those interruptions of cosmic kindness that disrupt our forward movement. They come to break, refine, and equip us with more grace.

The Beauty and Power of Disruption

Nations, cultures, and groups also need that refining force. Well, guess what. We have it; we are living through a powerful and historic disruption. It’s called “Trump.” But it has very little to do with policy or politics…or Trump. In fact, if he doesn’t already know it, he’ll soon learn that he’s caught in it too.

I think it’s dealing primarily with our arrogance and attitudinal sclerosis. In other words, it’s confronting our swagger and inflexibility. And it is applicable across the board. Like a hurricane, it is staggering across the land, bearing down on every person, group, relationship, event, and institution.

But why?

I believe it is because disruption brings newness into the present, “new” as the invading, explosive, and transformative power of the future. That new will—like a hurricane—rip and splinter old ways.

And that is for our good!

Have you noticed that most people seem to know our present national path is not healthy and not sustainable? So everyone claims to want change—but as a tool they can deploy to manage the future. It doesn’t work like that; real change invades. It’s not controllable by anyone or any agenda, and that’s the secret of its power and beauty.

From time to time, we all need to be so challenged, provoked, and terrified that body fluids leak through our clothes. That’s why and how we change. The great kindness of our Creator always has and always will tear up old ruts, comfort zones, and corruption in order to bring renewal. He will always cut across me; His purposes are too important to leave me (or you) intact.

Where did we ever get the idea that we and our tribe don’t need disruption? Why would anyone think that we get to create, educate, innovate, and negotiate only with those who feel exactly as we do about everything? That’s silly. Maturity requires the ability to work with different and difficult people.

Right here, it gets personal. I didn’t vote for Trump. He was the proverbial “bridge too far” for me. OK, so now what? Looks like I have decisions to make about adaptation, humility and learning new skills and rhythms.

I appreciated seeing the Tech titans—none of whom could be called Trump supporters—actually sit down and talk with the President-elect. For years some have lectured us on the need to sit down together, to “cross the aisle” to work with “the other side.” Oddly, so many of those voices never did that. But Tim Cook, Jeff Bezos, Sheryl Sandberg, Elon Musk and several others did. Furthermore, they agreed to keep meeting together with the new President.

Maybe they understand how the world works.

All Things New

Over the past year I have learned that loss always feels personal. But it never is.

Human instinct seems to always view loss from a close and immediate angle…it happened to me, took something from me, and now forever diminishes me and my future. But that is a distortion, like one cell in a drug addict’s body contorting in pain when he goes cold turkey. That cell cannot see the larger picture and purpose.

Much of what we’re seeing now is the contortion of individual cells. Too many bloggers, political elites, media voices, entertainers, and college students are only looking at Hurricane Donald from a very personal perspective.

To all of them I would say, “Close your eyes and take deep and long breaths. Humble yourself. Walk outside. Look up. Reconnect with the deeper rhythms of the universe. This is not personal any more than a hurricane is personal.”

Relax, trust, and prepare to live in a renewed and beautified landscape – one you didn’t design and one that lies far beyond the ramshackle real estate of your own habits and preferences.

8 thoughts on “Hurricane Donald”

  1. William H Dieterich

    Good thoughts, Ed. We all see a need for change around us but we have difficulty embracing the change needed within us. I relate to the telemarketer example. Struggling in a crummy job he probably took out of desperation, he doesn’t need my annoyance projected upon his personhood. In those few moments on the phone, how can I connect him to God’s righteousness, peace and joy when I have abandoned those attributes in myself? It’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of change.

  2. I always appreciate your fresh perspective, Ed. I identify with those moments when I get a glimpse into what I am acting like, and more seriously, what am in danger of becoming. I don’t think I could face that truth unless I knew God to be as Jonah disappointedly acknowledged him to be “a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.” I hadn’t thought of the application to the country as a whole, but can see it and see it as a healthy thing. Obviously, a collective change requires individual change and the more we think we are right the more we need the change. C.S. Lewis saw this when he called God the Great Iconoclast (icon destroyer). We all develop these pleasant, comfortable images of ourselves and of God. Though it is often painful, it is a true act of grace that He destroys them. We don’t need our image of Him. We need Him.

  3. Thanks, Ed, you’ve touched me again. In reality, you grabbed me from the first moment with your confession for I discovered we share a weakness. Those for whom words are their craft and livelihood often find that words are also their greatest stumbling block for we have the ability to slice and dice others more effectively than the average person can. Even worse, we often have the inclination to do so. James was right when he said that if we could control out tongue we can control the whole body.

    As to the hurricane, I seriously, honestly don’t have a clue what to think, even though I’ve spent 4 decades studying American society and politics. I am now at a loss. We have gone off the tracks, but I question whether we can get back on those tracks… or even if those tracks are still there, behind us somewhere. People who have dreams of “restoring” something in this world seldom grasp the human cost of even attempting such. I wish there were easy answers, but I can’t see any other than simply to trust the one who has already insured the ultimate victory and keep our eyes on that kingdom which cannot be shaken!

  4. Thanks once again for challenging my view of the world. I appreciate your unique perspective and am grateful for your input.

  5. Thank you Ed for your words in this post from you today. We harm ourselves as we withdrawal and circle the wagons in our attempts to preserve that which we hold to be truth. With the passage of time we become hardened in our hearts, minds and lives imprisoned in ways tending towards a lack of grace, mercy, gratefulness, civility and friendliness. We delude ourselves into a particular set of ideas that are used as a litmus test of what is acceptable. We alienate ourselves from the grace of God in others that don’t pass our test of acceptability. You speak so well to this situation and God’s disturbing love and kindness as it comes across our path with these words:

    “The great kindness of our Creator always has and always will tear up old ruts, comfort zones, and corruption in order to bring renewal. He will always cut across me; His purposes are too important to leave me (or you) intact.”

    Who are we to know what is best for us, for our neighbors, for our country and for our world? We do need God’s hand to disrupt all of our deliberations so that the poise of our hearts are directed towards him and not to the many causes and personal perspectives that so easily ensnares us into pits of despair.

  6. shelley edwards jeffries

    Well said. During a natural disaster you truly realize what was always most important…. People….our neighbors, our family, our friends, people we serve and those who serve us, those we lost…..they matter so much more than situations or dare I say…politics.

  7. Thanks, Ed. You write very thoughtfully and with hope. Time heals all wounds. Wounds are a matter of perspective. We need to drain the swamp but how will that be done? We might be surprised with the actions of the president-elect. His action to reinstate the Ethics Committee is a positive sign. I have hope too. An awful lot hangs in the balance. Disruption can go too far. There is little history of demonstrated compassion, benevolence, or reaching out to one’s fellow man in our new president. We go forward in faith and pray for the best.

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