The Eagles, the Senate, and learning to loosen my grip

The senateThe wear and tear of the election

Yes, like Rod, I am tired of the election. The political system is so devoid of hope, that it can really wear on me. One of the reasons it’s so painful is because I know a different way and I am anxious to tell the world about it.

Jacobin calls the Senate of the most undemocratic legislators in the world; the opposing sides act more like enemies than a team working on something together. They make threats to each other, blocking and obstructing legislation. For example, John McCain just told us he was ready to block any Supreme Court nominee Clinton offers. It is a commitment to not cooperating. A commitment to not listening. Hardly a commitment to governance and leadership.

With the power of the filibuster, they literally use dialogue for the opposite reason for which it should be used. Rather than bringing people together in mutuality, it divides them up and cements them in their positions. Unwavering stubbornness is a virtue in their bizarro world. They hold so tightly onto their power, that the people that they purportedly represent are slipping between their fingers. They don’t seem aware that they have a dismal approval rating. They don’t know how to have dialogue in love.

A tight grip can oppress us

Normally, I can tune all of this stuff out, but in this season it is particularly hard to do. I promise you, though, I may critique Eagles gameour legislators, but I am hardly in a position to. I hold on tightly too. Sometimes my words can cut like daggers. I have my fair share of repentance to do, too. You should’ve seen me during last week’s Eagles came. My words were violent threats against Washington. My grip was tightly grasped onto a win for my beloved football team. I told Greg that I’m still not over the loss.

As I reflected on why it was affecting me so much, why my face was so downcast, it was generally because of good things: loyalty, ambition, collective experience. I enjoy meeting a goal and doing good things. It is a good feeling. But the harder I hold on to that feeling, the uglier it can become. I can start acting like a Senator (or a Cowboy fan): interested in power, domination, and even bordering on violence. It’s an ugly thing. I might need a fast from the Eagles. Or at least to loosen my grip.

Sometimes our expectations can be so great that the criticism that we offer ourselves after we fail them is paralyzing. I was reminded again this week after the Birds’ loss that I too can be the very thing that I am sick of. Perhaps what repulses me so much about the violence of the Senate is that is comes close to my own shadow self.

The freedom I find in loosening up, in the dialogue of love

But what gives me hope about overcoming my shadow self and discovering my true self is the very community that I am part of. I’m not alone. I’m doing it with others. People who will walk with me in my journey. They love me, even when I fail. They know me and my triggers. As I was longing to move beyond my typical pitfalls, a brother told me that it sounded like I wanted to change my personality. He didn’t think it was a good idea. The Lord gave me my spirit and rather than changing and using it for good, it is tempting to just try to throw it away. Unfortunately, holding on so tightly to myself that I injure myself just isn’t going to cut it in the Kingdom of God. It isn’t the Way of the One who says his yoke is easy and his burden is light.

That’s why I love the covenant that we hold together in Circle of Hope. It is rooted in a dialogue of love. It is based on holding the work we are doing loosely and letting the Spirit lead us. It is a commitment to love and a commitment to receiving love. When the covenant-makers tell their stories, they talk about the kind of people God is fully making them and what they bring to our community. They love themselves, and begin to see themselves as God sees them. They aren’t measured by their accomplishments, by their power, or by how “unwavering” they are. They commit to cooperate, to work together, and aid each other in changing the world. They learn to act differently than our elected officials to. They are the anti-Senate.

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