Dear Jeremy and Jackson,
This morning, after your math tests and vocabulary tests, and a quick lecture about staying organized, the three of us sat down to watch Donald Trump’s inauguration. You have been listening to your dad and me talk about the election for so long now, and then the three of us laid in our bed the day after the election trying to figure out how Donald Trump got elected.
I had few answers for you then, and though I found answers for you over the last few months and I now understand why so many Americans wanted a significant change in governing, I was still an anxious pacer this morning as we awaited the inauguration to begin.
Even though Donald Trump did not earn my vote, he earned the votes of people you know and love. Hillary Clinton did not earn my vote either, but she earned the votes of people you know and love. I tell you this because America is a country sprinkled with diversity, and we are blessed to have folks in our circle of influence who possess a wide range of beliefs, traditions, and cultures. This is a good thing. I hope you surround yourselves with the same diversity throughout your adult life.
I kept looking at you both as we listened to the singing of “America the Beautiful” and as various people of faith prayed at the podium. Oh how I long for you to know how truly blessed you are to live in a country with so much liberty at your fingertips. Life is hard, and it is often unfair in so many ways, but do not let those truths discourage you from always choosing what is right and just. May you not be cowards who are all talk and no action. Rather, be honorable men of action and precious little talk.
You will get angry, but you will not win over anyone with your anger. I promise you that.
You will get bitter, but you will not win over anyone with your bitterness. Trust me.
When previous presidents and their spouses took the stage, I told you who each one of them was and explained how mature and respectful it was to attend. There are many congressmen and women who did not attend as an act of protest, and they are within their right to do so. This is freedom in action. But my hope for you is that you go on to recognize this occasion as historical rather than political. Two people who disagree can still be polite to one another and honor the traditions of our country. There will be plenty of time and occasions for debate. Today was not that day.
We watched Mike Pence take the oath as Vice President, and I held my breath. Then Donald Trump stood up and walked forward for his turn. I began to cry just a little, but then as he repeated the words of promise to our nation, I wept openly. I didn’t hide my emotions from you.
Jackson, you asked me why I was crying, and I know it was because you are the epitome of a Mama’s boy. You don’t like it when I’m unhappy. Bless you! When President Trump was finished, I wiped my eyes and told you, “This is not what I wanted, but it will be fine.”
You probably don’t know what I meant, but you will understand when you are older. Simply, our president is not God and the government is not our religion. As soon as another person, be it a movie star or a politician, or even your future spouse, takes that space on the pedestal in the deepest part of your heart, there is little room for God.
Root for people, but do not worship them.
Jeremy, you asked why there was so much prayer, which is hard to answer because I don’t see President Trump as a particularly religious person. I told you that there are diverse faiths in this country and it is good to provide several voices on the matter, particularly when faith and politics so often become intertwined.
Please hear my heart: When people of faith speak on politics, listen to them respectfully, but consider their words carefully before you accept them as more true or less true. They are human just like you and me. You have the right to your own beliefs, which will develop as time and life experience influence you.
Speaking of, your belief system and political persuasions will likely change from one decade to the next, and that is perfectly fine. We are not meant to be the same person at 20, 30, 40, and 50.
Yet, there are a few things I believe to be true and unchanging at every moment of your lives:
First, God made you, carefully and intentionally. He loves you more than even I could hope to. I pray you never lose that knowledge.
Second, your dad and I love you. It isn’t a perfect love like God’s, but it’s an honest, unfailing love that has no conditions.
Lastly, your liberty in this country is a precious gift. It is enjoyable among those who agree with you and challenging when you’re among those who oppose you. Regardless, every American has the freedom to believe however he or she chooses, and even when the differences seem too great to bridge, I pray you will not let spite or prejudice take up root in your heart. God made you, but He made everyone else too.
As I type this we’ve each gone back to our regular life. School is over for the week and you’ll be asking me to watch television or play video games soon. Boys, whether this election cycle had any impact on you at all, I hope you will remember this day as significant because it’s the day your homeschooling mother made you watch a boring inauguration because she believed it was the right thing to do.
With hope and love,