Chelle Wilson with 3 lessons learned during this election season

God routinely stuns me into silence at the endless ways He teaches me grace. I have learned more about faith, worship, and the active practice of Christianity during this clearly contentious election cycle than I ever imagined possible. I am first to confess that even as I am a woman of a certain age, there is still much for me to learn. What I find so beautiful is that I seldom learn the lesson I think I’m learning, and the method or direction from whence they come makes it abundantly clear in that inimitable water-into-wine miraculous way, that it could only be God.

Maybe you’ll see yourself here. If not, please partake in the blessings I’ve received. Who knew from shenanigans would bloom such grace and peace?

Lesson #1
You’re probably being most Christian when you’re thinking least about it.

This is a lesson in authenticity. I give all honor and glory to God that I was caught in the act of being a faithful servant, because if I am honest, I’m not betting that I’m always at His Best. An online friend recently reached out to me in a personal message to thank me for my continued friendship and support during the last few weeks of this national election cycle. Rhetoric has escalated beyond anything I, a student of politics and history, remember experiencing or even studying in the modern era. I never considered how divergent our positions were and I discovered during our conversation that we were likely further apart than ever I realized. However, and this is Only God, her message to me was direct and humbling….

” I know you and I don’t see eye to eye on politics, but thank you for staying my friend.”

Stunned, I offered up a prayer of thanksgiving and quickly tried cataloging all the things I’d posted, comments I’d liked or articles I’d shared. I asked myself, have my statements been aimed at positions rather than individuals? Have I ever attacked or demeaned anyone personally? I remembered a couple times I took issue with comments people made on my posts. Either I deleted them (if they were from someone I did not know), or undertook a conversation offline with a friend to move things along. I don’t fight online, and don’t need to convince anyone that I’m right and they’re wrong. Many of my offline conversations end amicably in agreement to disagree.

I remember telling someone (who asked me if I really believed the position I articulated) that among my favorite attributes of the Body of Christ is that it’s big and sufficiently differentiated to make room for us all at the Throne of Grace. We don’t have to be right. We don’t have to agree. We just show up fully and serve Him with our whole hearts, earnestly seeking His Face and to do His Will. That’s it.

Lesson #2
What Would Jesus Do (WWJD) covers way more real estate that you realize

I’m trying to live a whole, authentic life for Christ. I don’t always get it right, or even usually do, but I use WWJD as a filter through which I sift. It’s not necessarily the what but the how, although it is very often the what as well. What do I mean?

When I think about the Gospel, I realize that I am a “least of these” kind of girl. Separate from my own position, advantages, perspectives, etc., Jesus wanted us to live out the Gospel truths, not just with the people we like the most, but for the people who need Him most.

Let’s take the Fruit of the Spirit. I try to filter everything through Love, Joy, Peace (more on that later), Patience (that one’s hard), Kindness (I’m getting better), Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control (Lord, help us all). As I understand the Gospel, it doesn’t say that we will or should always walk together in lock-step; a fruit salad IS NOT a bowl full of red apples. However, living out the Gospel should mean that we treat one another as the reflections of God’s Perfect Image that we are. That ought to have a chilling effect on all we say or do, but not necessarily.

When it comes to political matters, I’m challenging myself to think, act, and consider from a Gospel perspective. It is not always easy, but living an easy life was never our calling.

Lesson #3
Peace. Making it, and keeping it

Thank God for Grace that I have managed to get through this season with friendships intact. I actively practice the pause, refusing to engage in contentious disagreement on social media. Mama taught me not to air dirty laundry in public, so when I disagree, I take those conversations offline.

I have learned that the people who need the Love of God from us are usually the LEAST lovable. Let’s be honest, sometimes we ARE those people. I bristle most when I can’t see any common ground. It would be human to give up. However, that is when I prayerfully try, unless I don’t feel any good will come of it, to make peace. It is okay to know when to walk away. That’s discernment, liberally dosed with self-control.

Finally…at 52, I live one authentic life. It’s occasionally hard, but I persevere. Despite the acrimony and sheer nastiness that has been the hallmark of this election season, I am grateful for the testing of my faith and my walk that it has been. I believe I’ve mostly honored God by doing my best to be the Christian I claim. People care little about whom we say we are. Our actions speak loudly in support of our beliefs, or in stark contrast to them. I am reminded of the encouragement we receive from Paul’s letter to the believers in Colossae.

Colossians 4:2-6 (NLT) an encouragement for prayer…
Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. That is why I am here in chains. Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should.
Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive[a] so that you will have the right response for everyone.

Our conversations should be gracious (as in filled with Grace), not only during the election season but always, as is our calling. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it, but we are not regular. We are peculiar, and we are called.

See, I promised. Not a single thing about politics, except this….please exercise your right to vote.

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Frail, flawed, skeptical and stubborn, God loves me, unfailingly consuming my resistance with limitless Grace. I adore that He has a sense of humor. Mine is a quirky though deeply reverent perspective on God and Grace. Dance is my prayer language. I find writing humbling, occasionally terrifying, always enlightening. Flannery O’Connor wrote “I write because I don't know what I think until I read what I say.” I get that. Bios tell readers who you are. I would rather not tell; engage me and decide for yourself. I clutch inherited pearls while tossing my dreadlocks. Contentedly enigmatic, read my words if you really want to know. What’s on my playlist as the rhythm of my soul? Hymns, anthems, jazz AND jazz vespers, hip-hop, Gospel and Gregorian Chants. My gorgeous Boxer Sando taught me so much about Faith, Love, and Trust that I wrote a book about him. My first love married me nearly 25 years ago, and together with God we made two beautiful people and a life. I am a regular contributor and founding writer at God Sized Dreams. For four months last year, you could find me each Thursday morning on NBC’s Today Show. Who knows where I'll turn up next??

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