Today the President of the United States is likely to be impeached. I had hoped that through this process, public opinion would unify and that a large majority of Americans would agree that a Mike Pence Presidency would be better to heal a weak and divided America. I had hoped that, especially in the Senate, that Republicans would do the right thing. My disappointment at the recent comments from Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell is overwhelming. Every day I read tweets from John Cornyn, my senator, and can’t believe he is the same man I voted for six years ago. It seems surreal that his words could be so at odds with the facts. The speeches by Republicans in the House today were so jarring, I couldn’t listen to some of them. To hear my concerns and fears dismissed and minimized and attributed to some moral failing or political machinations was hurtful and confusing.
Narratives. They are everywhere. We all have selective memories. We all assemble those memories into narratives that make sense of our world. My parents had a narrative for me. I had an ideal childhood. My parents loved me more than anything. I grew up in the church which made me important and special. Because of all that I had received, I was obligated to live a perfect life and make them proud. I was supposed to put myself last, serve my husband and children, and put all concerns about myself and my life aside. I was supposed to raise my children the way I was raised.
And then depression happened. And then Ben’s dad happened. And then counselling happened. My narrative shattered. I had to accept the reality; that my childhood was far from perfect and that the mental and emotional burdens of past generations had been set upon my shoulders. It wasn’t right and it wasn’t fair. I was angry at the extra work I had to do to try to resolve problems I didn’t create and didn’t deserve. The harder I tried to progress in my recovery, the more my relatives and friends fought to instill their narrative back into my mind. Rather than applaud my efforts to bless their grandchildren with a healthier life, instead I was pathologized and patronized. My memories and my pain were minimized or attributed to a moral or mental deficiency. The mental health professionals I trusted in were looked down on and even blamed.
In the midst of all this turmoil, the Republican party was overtaken by Trump. I had always believed that the Republican party was good. We were the guardians of the constitution and conservative values. We were the protectors of the world order and the spread of freedom around the world. In a few short years, that narrative was dashed. Just like my family narrative, I was forced to accept the reality that much of what I had believed was true, was not.
Now I accept that I was raised by fallen parents who loved me, but hurt me. The ideal childhood that they remember giving me, is their reality. Not mine. There is a lot of pain there for me. They hurt me. That doesn’t mean they were or are bad people. They were loved and hurt by their parents and step parents and caregivers. If the truth were known, my parent’s parents were likely also loved and hurt by their parents. It is not my job to judge these people. They were fallen people doing their best to make their way in a fallen world. They were dealing with financial problems, career challenges, church responsibilities, sickness, and death. They made mistakes and some of those mistakes were very serious with long term consequences. The same things can be said of my husband’s family. We all hope that progress can be made and that a better future lies ahead for our family in the next generations. Rooting out family dysfunction takes work. It takes humility. It takes asking for help and accepting difficult truths. It takes work to see other points of view and gain understanding beyond the limitations of our own reality. It takes rejecting the need to assign blame, and the courage to take responsibility for the future to make sure that tomorrow is better than yesterday was. It takes a submission to the Savior and the faith that he can heal relationships and families when we confess and forsake harmful traditions and patterns of behavior. As I trust in him and the sources of healing he has guided me to, my confidence begins to strengthen. My emotional disabilities were and are a blessing. They have led me to seek help and knowledge that has lifted my life.
Like my family narrative, my political narrative has been dashed. I’ve had to accept the reality that the Republican party was far less good than I thought it was. It is far less rational and compassionate than I thought it was. It is far less committed to spreading freedom around the world and to constitutional principles than I thought it was. The reality is, I chose to see the Republican party as I wanted it to be and not as it truly was. Otherwise I would have recognized the warning signs long ago.
The kind of people with the character and vision to create a country of peace and prosperity that can serve as a light on a hill have never been common. Even in the best times of our country’s history there has been turmoil, polarization, and even serious systematic injustice. There is only ever a small percentage of rational, compassionate, moral individuals who make difficult right choices against their own self interest. Civilization relies on those people. Every new generation of Americans has had the opportunity to more perfectly realize the American dream; to create and exemplify the best of what is within us; to promote and reward and elevate as leaders those who show a commitment to the values we all hold dear. I’m afraid this generation is failing and I fear that our failure will have devastating consequences. When the wicked rule, the people mourn.
Even as I see so many troubling trends; as I see Satan’s power growing and his influence blanketing the Earth; I also see God’s hand. I talked to a friend today who is going through a terrible ordeal. She has done tremendously hard things in the last six months and has faced opposition that dwarfs the imagination. I have seen the hand of God moving in her life. I have seen friends come to her when needed. People have come together to serve and have been blessed. There have been times when I was discouraged and didn’t know how it was going to work out, but the Lord was there. He was enough. It has been difficult. It has required a network of people willing to give and sacrifice. Miracles happen. The Savior and those who work in his name rarely make the headlines, but their influence is real and powerful.
Where there is great evil, there is also great good to balance it. As long as there are Americans who are willing to stand with courage and faith, it will be enough. The Lord will make it enough. There are difficult truths to face and tough problems to solve, but I believe we can do it. We will survive the Trump Presidency and the tumult created by new technology. We will weather the storm of right wing populism and authoritarian ideology. We can and we will rise to the occasion of this turbulent moment in history. We can unite behind common values and principles and reject political, ethnic, religious, and economic divisions. We can choose to change course and vote for those who can be trusted with power; people our children can look to as role models. We can right the wrongs of the past and choose a better future as a nation. As I pray for my nation today and in the weeks that come, I pray that the Savior of mankind will have mercy upon us and help us to see the path forward. I pray that eyes will be opened, partisan and political concerns will be set aside, and that the elected representatives of the country will guide us away from the disastrous place in which we have found ourselves.