I’ve been praying for the president. That may not sound radical to you, but it is for me. I long for a president who sings “Amazing Grace;” one who understands kingdom building; even one whose policies I don’t agree with but one whose humanity I never once question. I long for a president whose call is to build people up with opportunity, not to tear them down with fear. I’ve been praying for those traits, but not necessarily for the person.
Anne Lamott recently posted about praying for the president in this current environment, and it changed my perspective. She reminded me that we are all “precious children of God.” I know this to be true in my head. Admittedly, I have a harder time with this in my heart. I’m flawed. We all are, though, aren’t we? Lamott explains how she still hates the things the president does, “But less. Twenty percent of me remembers that he is a man who has never once been loved, never once, except maybe by his kids. His brother was destroyed by the lack of love and committed suicide. Twenty percent of me aches for the total barbaric ruins of his inner life. Twenty percent. That is a miracle. And on top of that, I’ve realized that God looks at Trump and sees His own suffering son, never leaves him and aches for him, too, pulls for him to be transformed by Love, loves him as a mother does her child. Love is WAY beyond what I am personally comfortable or familiar with….” If Anne Lamott can do this, so can I. I can at least TRY. Twenty percent.
I’ve shared with you before how running is my spiritual practice. I tend to choose a word or a phrase to focus on. Frequently, it’s a song from Taize—”in the Lord I’ll be ever thankful…” or “Within our darkest night…You kindle a fire that never dies away…” How should I pray for the president? I started with “Dear God, I hope…” That was what I could offer. Twenty percent. I shared with one of you that I had started this practice. You said it was really bold. I confessed that I was probably only five percent effective because I got distracted by my music. Sara Bareilles singing “Brave”, Cloud Cult praising “you were born”, Kendrick Lamar pondering, “How much a dollar cost,” and Cynthia Erivo asking “…the color purple, where do it come from?” (Look what God has done…). We can talk about the odd mixture of music on my phone another day, but if you look up the lyrics, you might see a theme. Truth be told, I don’t feel bold. I feel small, petty and hopeless about the current state of our country. Perhaps my prayer should have started with “Forgive me,” followed by “I hope.”
Only a week has passed since I started this practice. It feels like a lifetime ago. I find myself angry at the news, once again. But, I’ve committed to this practice. I am going to work toward twenty percent. And when I get there, I’ll work toward twenty-five percent. What I have realized this week—and really, I’ve known this all along, but it’s a lesson, for some reason, I need to keep learning—is that WE are the kingdom builders. That is OUR call together. We are called here to love one another NOW. We cannot wait for a leader who acknowledges that call. We must continue to be a light for the marginalized. We aren’t called here to be comfortable or free from conflict. We aren’t called here to be free from anger or obstacles. We are called here, to this corner of Chamberlayne and Walton Avenues, to show a radical love like the world has never seen. We are called here to shake things up. To put more chairs around the table. This call is not easy—it never has been. It wasn’t meant to be. It takes a leap of faith every single day. Some days, every single hour. Some runs, every single step. I’d like to invite you to join me in this practice (running not required, but you are welcome to join me anytime). I suspect it will change us more than it will change the leaders for whom we pray. Let’s be bold together. It could be a miracle.
Kimberly Carswell is a longtime contributor to our blog, where we always appreciate her thoughts and reflections. She and Scott are parents to three boys of middle school, high school, and college vintage. Kimberly is a marathon runner, with Richmond’s November race next on her list.