As a child, I frequently suffered from canker sores. Have you ever had one of those? They can be nasty. Most of the time, my canker sores were the result of brushing my teeth so passionately that the toothbrush slipped and stabbed me in that space between my gum and the inside of my cheek.
The initial stabbing was always more gentle than the resultant canker sore. Those bad boys were painful. So very painful.
I once stood in line, late at night, at a CVS, behind a gentleman who was nursing what must have been an excruciating tooth ache. Standing before the cashier, he piled Extra Strength Tylenol, Anbesol, and some sort of temporary tooth filling composite on the counter, then waited for his purchase to be rung up and bagged. In the minimal vocal exchanges between the man and the cashier, the man with the toothache was extremely careful not to move his mouth too much, lest his tongue graze the offending tooth.
He had the look of a person in agony. The tooth had compromised him, draining the color from his face and the pep from his step. He needed a doctor but, for reasons I can only speculate, CVS was the best option at the moment.
After I’d made my purchase and walked outside, I saw the gentleman in the driver’s seat of his vehicle, hunched over the steering wheel, a grimace on his face, jaw cupped gently in the palm of his hand.
I’ve known that type of pain. I remember holding the inside of my cheek between my top and bottom molars, hoping to protect my canker sore from any wrong movements that might send piercing pain through my own jaw. Those of a different generation might say I was favoring that side of my mouth — protecting its temporary weakness from further damage and pain.
Anbesol did a great job of numbing the pain of a canker sore. I’d use the foam-tipped applicator to soak the open wound in the magical potion. The entire area would go blissfully numb, long enough for me to forget I even had a canker sore. I could eat and talk and whistle and sing, as long as the Anbesol was doing its job.
But eventually, the Anbesol wore off. It usually wore off right in the middle of a bite of a sandwich and the searing pain that followed was the first reminder to me that I had a sore and needed to be careful.
For the past year, I’ve gradually stepped away from conversations about politics and the person who currently occupies the White House (I call him 45). You may also have noticed I’ve decreased my engagement with people who voted for and/or support 45. For me, keeping my distance and holding my peace has felt akin to dousing a canker sore with Anbesol. It’s the best treatment I’ve discovered so far, for what I have found to be a deep and persistent wound. Smarter people than I would say I’ve drawn boundaries for myself. Others might tell you I am favoring my sanity.
So, here is the first time I’ll publicly state it was profoundly devastating for me to learn that people I have known and loved, voted for 45 and continue to support him. In many cases, I can excuse their November vote. But, the continued support is inexplicable to me. And, I know it’s “only” politics, please don’t get me wrong. That part of it I get. I’m not surprised at all that this is America. I’ve always known this is America. I just didn’t realize (call me naive) how wide the gap that still remains between me and so many others. I knew there was a gap. I did. But I guess I thought we were hundreds of years apart in our thinking, rather than light years apart from one another.
Favoring my sanity by stepping away is like being soaked in Anbesol. I forget about 45 altogether, for long stretches of time. But then, I’ll overhear a snippet of an update — shithole nations is the latest — and it’s like the Anbesol has worn off and I’ll say out loud, “I had forgotten all about him!”
For now, forgetting is good. Protecting myself from painful reminders of wounds that lay gaping open is wisdom.
A few years ago, my husband took me to Germany, to see the little village there where I was born. As part of our journey, we rode in the back of a sedan while a tour guide took us to see an idyllic-looking suburban community with tree-lined streets and magazine worthy homes. It was just like any middle class community you might imagine in your mind, except for this: during World War II, if you or I stood at the kitchen sink in one of these homes, with a window looking out onto the back yard, we would have seen — just over the rise of the hill — a stop on the railroad. At that stop (and we’d be able to watch as we cleaned plates from that morning’s breakfast), soldiers loaded Jewish mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles, neighbors and friends, teachers and bakers, bankers and jewelers, into packed railway cars that were headed to Auschwitz.
There was never an uprising from the people at the kitchen sinks, looking out from their windows onto the railroad stop. On our trip to Germany, I stood beside the train tracks and let my gaze rest on a window at the back of a house just a few hundred yards away. I don’t want to ever forget that.
America sends drones to bomb countries across the ocean, killing children and mothers and pregnant women and soldiers and teachers and neighbors and friends and bankers and bakers. America does this while Americans protest in front of Planned Parenthood.
America kills unarmed black men live on Facebook and the killer walks free. Perhaps, “I feared for my life,” should be a new card in the stack in the game of Monopoly. Collect $200 from the man over there who can’t breathe.
America builds, defends, and maintains monuments to traitors who lost a war and then wonders why “those people” riot in “their own neighborhoods” forgetting those neighborhoods can’t ever really belong to “those people” in the first place. But they aren’t truly America’s either, right?
America grabs your pussy, makes you give her a blowjob, and gives her penis a standing ovation, praise the Lord.
America drinks us dry and makes us bow the knee, then whines about Beyonce’s Lemonade and Colin’s posture on the sidelines.
America opines about land of the free in her acceptance speech for Most People Incarcerated in All the World.
America does not see color. Except for red, white, and blue. And white. And black or brown if it’s on the “wrong side” of town.
America backlashes and blacklashes and whitewashes it all so her children can snort it instead of smoking it.
The wound hasn’t healed, yet. And even though it’s not my wound, I’ll drench myself in Anbesol until the opiods make their way from your system and the jarring pains of withdrawal finally wake. you. up.
Photo by Don Ross III on Unsplash
I was raised to respect the office and person in it, but I just cannot these days. I do not understand the continued support and justification. I just do not! I’m thankful I cast my vote for Evan McM.
I am dumbfounded… as you said… maybe November… the Supreme Court… but now… over all these months… thanks Deidra… sitting stunned by I don’t want to be silent!!!!
God rest Eric Garner, and now his daughter Erica…I can’t breathe either. Deidra, thank you for the words.
Thank you Deidre for your posts and sharing your heart. I recently started following you this past fall after taking part in the “We Saved You a Seat” women’s study through my church. As someone closely tied to the law enforcement community, I know how difficult the job is- the training, the mental preparation, the lack of sleep, the millisecond decisions that have to be made, seeing evil and heartbreaking situations day-in and day-out, not getting support for real issues (PTSD, suicide, alcoholism, etc.), and the hope that one never has to use lethal force. With that said, the job is one that is meant to serve and protect the community. How awful it is to see that some who wear the badge, take advantage of it- take advantage of others? It does take my breath away. And then there’s the gray area- split decisions rightfully or wrongfully made, not knowing a person’s heart (intentions) in the situation, the public not understanding the specifics behind the training, or labeling a decision or person. I pray for our nation. I wish there was more communication, more listening, more humble hearts- on all sides of this. The history of law enforcement is one to be studied and known. I pray for God to break us free- to find men and women who protect and serve their communities to the best of their God-given abilities. And for a public to trust the men and women in this position again. Like you said in your book- God is always working in the chaos, even if it feels like there’s no hope. He spoke into chaos. Related to the election, I’m heartbroken that we ended with the candidates that we did in the fall of 2016. I think most people were torn- there’s lack of trust on both sides, and personally, I’m tired of it all. I have to pray for our leaders- I have to, and I have to pray for my own heart. What can I do? How can I show others the love of Jesus day-in and day-out? I pray for hope.
Oh Deidra. I knew you were still there. Just this week, a friend/acquaintance sent me a FB message saying that my posts on 45 were as offensive to him as Trumps tweets. I hardly comment. But i have been convicted lately to shut my mouth about 45 from the Lord. So I told this guy that i would take down offensive posts. And then the very next day he says his vulgar language about Hatiians and people from Africa. God is testing me.
Racism is ugly, hateful, evil and just wrong.
Ambesol wont work with 45 because a day doesnt go by hardly without him opening his mouth or tweeting something horrendous.
Last January my husband limited my time watching the news. I need to do it again.
I am with you tho. I dont understand how someone who voted for him can still support him- especially those who call themselves followers of Jesus. I long for the day when i dont have to confess my sin of judging 45.
Thanks for this post. It was honest and real and needed. Sending you love.
I don’t even know what to say to what’s been going on lately in our country (politically, socially, physically, or even spiritually in the Church). There is no human understanding to some of the things we hear/see each day. There is anger, bitterness, hatred not only with those outside of Christ but also those hidden in Him. How is this possible? I don’t know if there are any good answers to a lot of what’s going on…not until Jesus comes and things will be set right by Him Who is the only one who can judge.
To be honest, I don’t often listen to the news, although my husband works for a news station. It was very hard for me not to get upset considering that day’s news…I hesitate to even call it that as it seems to be more like potshots volleyed by conservatives at liberals, liberals at conservatives, whites at blacks, blacks at whites, citizens at police, police at citizens, whites at whites, blacks at blacks, conservatives at gays, gays at conservatives, Christians at non-Christians, non-Christians at Christians, and even Christians at Christians. Maybe God will use all that’s happening to draw non-believers to Jesus and refine those “hidden in Christ” to be more like Him. That would be good news! 🙂
Janet from FL
I cannot understand why people still support 45 either! It’s crazy! I too have friends and family who voted for him, and it makes me angry. Try asking them why, and they just say, “I don’t want to talk about it.” They should be ashamed! My way of avoiding the pain — not watching TV news, not reading any of 45s tweets, not talking to the people who voted for him except to say “hi” or with close family members we agree that we disagree. Coping is what I do day by day and hour by hour. Hoping is also what I do each day — I pray and I support Democrats who are running for Congress this year. God won’t abandon us, even if other people have. It was actually encouraging to read your post. Finally an opinion that made sense! Thank you for sharing with us.
It hurts to see America… bleeding.
It is so disheartening, the ongoing descent. I pray it births us into a truth we have needed to acknowledge as a nation.
I applaud the work of those who, in the face of great discouragement, or maybe because of it, keep chiseling away at the enormous rock with the tools God has given them. You introduced me to the work of Ta-Nehisi Coates with the book club discussion of “Between the World and Me.” You wrote the honest yet sensitive “One,” a call to unity. I have just finished reading “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas. I couldn’t put it down.
Do not let grief keep you from using the tools you’ve been given, as He directs. Waiting for that direction, and watching for it, is not a wasted season.
This is a beautiful, raw piece. Thank you for sharing.
I tried to engage this year. I really did. But, I unplugged and stepped away long ago. I can’t take the collective contention. I actually had to look up what your post was talking about.
Do I like what he said? Absolutely not.
Forgive me for stepping back away from all the ugliness. I want it to change, I am glad for the change-makers. Whether I agree or disagree, they make me think. I am more aware by stepping into the experience you share and listening. Hearing the raw, ripped wound. It makes my heart ache and wonder about a lifetime that brings such pain and hurt. I’m sorry there are so many hateful and hurtful people in the world.
Personally, I am raw and bleeding from the brutality of living in this broken world. I have to keep it small, minimizing energy drains and emotional exhaustion. The way I can be true to what God wants me to so is one small thing at a time. Buying groceries for the single mom who can’t put food on the table. Soothing raw and raging emotions of a business in ruins. Finding ways to be Jesus in someone’s hurt. Praying for wayward family deep in regrets. Merging your life lessons with mine.
I pray we can continue to be friends. I know my life is better because of you, Deidra. You are a challenger and I’m proud you are. Praying God leads you every step of the way. Much love, L
Dear sister Deidra, I’m hoping for some kind of spiritual balm, instead of the mental Anbusol we seem to need just to breath in the midst of all the dung piles of sin, brokenness, and foolishness that seem to pile up in our world day by day. Maybe one of those Psalms where David calls for the Lord’s wrath on His enemies would not be uncalled for. I wouldn’t be surprised if we really are reaping the harvest of the sins of our ancestors – God help us, how can we go on in such a place?!
When I hear about situations like 45″s most recent slur, I can’t help but ask the Lord if there were any bold, genuine Christians around before or during that event. The prophets of old had no problem speaking hard truth to the people who needed to hear it. Are there any people of God anointed today to do the same job?
I’m afraid that in order to rightfully and righteously fight our way through the American shithole will take a lot of pain, confession, struggle, and battles with people who should be our allies and people who are truly our enemies.
President Trump, if you really want to see a genuine shithole, I’ll show you one. It’s in the heart of every human.
I, too, have had to step back in the last year. I do not understand how people I know and love, people in my own family, could vote for and support him. I can’t watch the news or keep engaged because it sends my anxiety through the roof. I want to fight against all that he is and all that he promotes but I feel so completely powerless. A few years ago I read the Dietrich Bonhoeffer biography by Eric Metaxas and I have thought of that book frequently. It feels disturbingly similar, especially the reaction/ actions of the “church.”