Reading through old journals Friday was an illuminating experience. One thing I noticed was that I have been having depressive symptoms for a long time; much longer than I wanted to admit. That probably explains why this depressive episode is lasting so much longer than I expected.
One thing that really stood out to me as I read was the fear that I had as Trump secured the Republican nomination and was sworn in as President. Fear saps my energy and drains my motivation. It is a crack in the vessel of my emotional wellness. My worries and fears did not make Donald Trump a better President. It is so much easier to look objectively at my fears as I walk yesterday’s path with my former self.
I still check Twitter somewhat obsessively, looking for the latest political scandal, the most recent developments in the Russia probe; I taste the tribalism and witness the stark divisions that rumble under the peaceful veneer of our civilized world. Fear snakes across my left shoulder and into my neck where I usually hold my tension. I massage it habitually to ease the pain, but the fear remains. Of course the scriptural cure for fear is faith. My faith has certainly been stronger, and I’ve noticed that as I testify on this blog, my faith grows.
It’s hard to have faith when you are aware of all the things that are going badly wrong. How do you have faith in the economy when tariffs are threatening global markets and the national debt is soaring? How do you have faith in the U.S. government when it is constantly at war with itself, lead by an autocratic, mercurial, and unpredictable man backed by what appears to be deluded enablers fed information from Fox News which has increasingly become a propaganda outlet for the President? How do you have faith in your church, when as you develop your testimony, you find yourself feeling increasingly out of step with other church members? How do you have faith in yourself when you are laying on the couch overwhelmed with the responsibilities of parenthood and unable to force yourself to face the next thankless task?
There are no easy answers to these questions. The truth is, we are commanded by God to have faith in one thing; that Jesus is the Christ. All other things are transitory, temporary, and fallible. Even the Prophet Joseph Smith, whom I believe to be the prophet of the great restoration of Christ’s church in these last days, was only a man. The leader of our church today, whom I honor and revere as a prophet, is only a man. Jesus Christ is the only true source of life and truth. As I seek for him, and have faith in him, I will be able to cast out my fear.
I recorded a sacred experience that I had as I prayed for my country during the Republican primaries. I won’t go into a lot of detail about that experience, but one thing I want to share. I had asked specifically about who I should support in the Republican primaries and had asked about Ben Carson, one of the candidates I liked best. I liked his calm and reasoned responses to the issues, his focus on reconciliation and forgiveness, and his remarkable journey from poor black boy in a single parent home, to world-class neurosurgeon. I hoped that as President he would calm some of the deep divisions in the party and the country. I thought that as an outsider, he might have some insight into how we could improve our government traditions in ways that someone with more experience might take as just the way things are done. I hoped that if he led the Republican Party, that it would show the nation that the party was not racist and is willing to embrace minorities who find our message of freer markets, lower taxes, and traditional religious values resonates. This might invite minorities to investigate Republican candidates and messages and broaden party appeal. At that time, I thought that the Republican Party was better than it was. I hoped that a Republican President would unite the country, restore U.S. credibility abroad, and reign in zealous progressive forces. Of course, I have been disappointed.
I prayed to know if I should support Ben Carson or keep looking for a different candidate. He told me that Ben Carson was a good choice because he was humble and willing to seek after the will of God. He then said, “The choice is clear. The American people will decide and the character of the nation will be revealed.” Looking back on that statement was chilling. In electing Donald Trump President, what have we revealed about our national character? Many things can be said about Donald Trump by his supporters, but I don’t think anyone would characterize him as humble and willing to seek after the will of God. What will the be the consequences of our decision to value bombast, bullying, flattery, and lies over honesty, civility, humility, and faith in Jesus Christ? Truly, the country is in a perilous place.
George Mason, a little known but tremendously important founding father, said, “By an inevitable chain of causes and effects, Providence punishes national sins, by national calamities.” This is not good news for us. It is inevitable that we will suffer because of how far we have strayed from the true path of our Savior. Reading about George Mason, his thoughtful nature, his eloquent expressions of moral conviction, his dedication to the Savior, and I think; these are the men and women who built the foundation of the country I love. I have read the Federalist Papers and the Anti-Federalist Papers. I have studied the lives of the founders. At one time I had the Declaration of Independence memorized. The whole thing! I studied the constitution prayerfully and reverently as I would my scriptures. I say unapologetically and without reservation that the Constitution was and is an inspired document. We cast it aside at our peril.
As I watch the Constitution be slowly disrespected and dismissed I am assured that we are headed for hard times. Zealous progressives have no love for the Constitution or the “racist white males” who founded our nation. Trump supporters have no use for it either, as it restricts their leader’s ability to “drain the swamp.” Everyone has an opinion about the direction we should go as a nation, but we lack the patience, humility, and self-awareness to see that the Constitution is everything. If the Constitution is not rooted in the hearts of every American, our country is already gone; drowned in a sea of outrage and identity politics, false narratives and petty ambition.
I talked to a reader last week and he gave me some feedback about my writing. He said that my passionate views can come across as judgmental. Also, he has felt personally attacked at times as he has read my words. I’ve pondered a lot on that. This was shocking to me, because I can’t think of a single blog post in which I was thinking of him at all. At times I have probably written things regarding relationships that would be better dealt with in a direct way. I am working on that. It takes a lot of courage to deal face to face with people, but it isn’t fair for me to send passive aggressive messages via blog post. I write on here about things that I think about, almost never do I think of specific people as I am writing, especially in politics.
I love my progressive friends. They have taught me so much. They are without question, the most loving and courageous people I know. They have supported my fight against depression without judgment and that is the greatest gift I could ask for. When I see these friends I don’t think, “There’s a zealous progressive out to undermine the Constitution!” I usually don’t think about politics at all when I am with them, and if I do, I want to know what they think so I can benefit from their views.
I have many friends that are Trump supporters. Again, I don’t think, “There is an enabler of tyranny,” when I see them. I see my friends. There are a handful of people that I have offended with my critical views of Trump and things are a bit awkward with them, but for the most part, I don’t care who you voted for or what news channel you watch. I’m not going to hate you or judge you because of your politics. Politics, in my opinion, is like religion. It is extremely complex and personal. One might question why I choose to write about it at all. The answer is, purely for selfish reasons.
I criticize the progressive and Trumpist philosophies on here because of the way they don’t fit in my brain. It is about me, not about anyone else. I find the blog is a useful tool for me to process the bizzard of current events and endless conflicts in my inner world. Perhaps as you read my blog, you might feel dissonance in your own brain. If that’s the case, I highly recommend writing. It clears the brain, clarifies the thoughts, and improves cognition in general. At least for me.
So, I have precious little faith in the temporal and transitory things of this world. My nation, my church, my family, my friends, and all my material possessions are in real danger right now. That fear is justified and clear-eyed. Still, that fear does not need to paralyze me. I need not cower before difficult circumstances.
The Lord is my Shepherd. No want shall I know. I feed in green pastures; safe folded I rest. He leadeth my soul where the still waters flow. Restores me when wandering, redeems when oppressed.
In the valley and shadow of death though I stray, since thou art my guardian, no evil I fear. Thy rod shall defend me, thy staff be my stay. No harm can befall with my comforter near! No harm can befall with my comforter near!
The Savior is ever mindful of us. He knows what we have need of. He is mighty to save. No bomastic autocrat has power like that humble shepherd of men, and he stands ready to make his arm bare in defense of his people. May we be worthy of his leadership for now is the time to prepare to meet Him. Blessed be the name of the Most High God!