Our relationship has been a rocky one, the President and me. When he took office, I cried at his inauguration and was proud to see him standing there, a black man from little means, now the leader of a nation that has been ripped apart by race relations. I didn’t vote for him, true enough. I would have preferred someone else standing there; but I tried to remain hopeful.
Within the first year of his first term, dark clouds rolled in as I saw very clearly his philosophies coming to play. He was ushering in policies that I believed would hurt the poorest in our country and weaken us as a nation. After having traveled throughout Europe, parts of Indonesia, Africa, and the Middle East, I had become more convinced than ever of how unique and wonderful American is among the nations. I was loathe to see her harmed. By the end of his first term I couldn’t watch the news anymore and just the sight of him gave me a sense of dread. I felt helpless as he made decision after decision with which I wholeheartedly disagreed.
When it was re-election time, I was giddy with the prospect of getting someone – anyone – new in office. I contributed to political funds for the first time in my life. I was living in a foreign country at the time and, somehow, this made me care about the election even more. I felt like the hope of our country was wrapped up in that vote, as if we were standing on a precipice and this decision made all the difference.
So, when President Obama won again, I was literally devastated. I cried. I ranted. I threw up my hands to the heavens and screamed, “Why?!” And then I did the only logical thing I could do and withdrew completely. I tried to stop caring about health care laws and immigration reform and international relations.
Once we moved back to the States and I could hardly hide my head in the sand anymore, I was pulled back into the vortex of negativity that is our nation’s political scene. Once again, I found that I couldn’t stand the sight of my President. The old resentments flared again, but something else was stirring in me as well and this thing was surprising…I was feeling conviction about my resentment.
I’m familiar with the biblical passages on honoring governmental authorities and the command to pray for them (1 Tim 2:1-15; Rom 13:1; 1 Pet 2:17; Titus 3:1-2). How I’ve applied these to my life has depended totally on who is in office. If it’s someone I agree with, then I piously add them to my prayer list. If it’s someone I disagree with, I somehow never do.
What’s the point? He or she is set in her ways. The strategy has been written in stone and there’s nothing my prayers can do to change it.
These are the sort of thoughts that creep into my mind; but, there’s more to it than that if I’m going to really be honest here.
The truth is: how can I resent someone that much and pray for them? How can I bad mouth them and share mocking and biting articles about them and rejoice when they fail and also come to the throne of God Almighty on their behalf?
And the truest answer is: I can’t.
For far too long I’ve chosen to be “right” in my own eyes and to completely disobey the Word of God because of the bitterness and resentment and fear in my own heart.
And you can’t tell me that’s not affecting my life. That kind of cognitive dissonance, that kind of hypocrisy, will seep down into my soul and change me in ways that I may not realize until its too late.
I don’t want to walk the earth with resentment. I want to walk in freedom. I’m invested in my country but I’m much more invested in the Kingdom of God.
President Obama is a person created in God’s image and he has a soul that will one day stand before the judgment seat of the Lord, just like me. Furthermore, nothing going on in the world is out of the hands of the Creator. He is working and His will is going to be done, one way or another. My heart posture should be one of humility and love. And I won’t allow myself anymore excuses for why it isn’t.
So, here I am, a libertarian who disagrees with nearly everything President Obama stands for and I am committing myself to pray for him on a regular basis. Because, I believe that the directive to pray for my leaders is not just for them, but for me as well. Praying for the President and for Congress will necessitate that I relinquish my grip on resentment and, as it always does, it will change my heart from one of bitterness to one of love. I want you, my readers, to hold me accountable.
Here is what I won’t pray:
- That the President has a complete change of mind and heart on all of the issues with which I personally disagree. (That’s not humility)
- That any embarrassment or shame comes upon him or that his legacy will be one of dishonor (That’s not love)
- That his plans/agenda are frustrated (Again, not humility)
Here is what I will pray:
- That the President has eyes to see and ears to hear the voice of the Lord.
- That he will have the courage and wisdom to do the right thing in all circumstances.
- That he will be surrounded by good and wise counsel.
- That he and his family draw close to the Lord and are protected from all harm, spiritually, physically, and emotionally.
- That the Lord’s will be done in the President’s life and in our nation as a whole.
- That there will be a growth in unity and a decline in division.
These prayers might change over time, but I know with certainty that my heart will. It already has.
I don’t know what the future holds and I don’t know what is in the President’s heart, but I do know that there will be at least one person standing for him before the throne of the Lord with no other agenda but love.
Because in the end, that’s who I really want to be – not a political genius who has all the answers – but a person filled with the love of God and who actually (tries with her whole heart to) practice what she preaches.