And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed… - Luke 16:26
Full disclosure: I support Hillary Clinton for president in 2016, and I have since the primaries.
Like many of you, the disturbing audio that leaked of Donald Trump’s 2005 abusive language about women coupled with the nasty personal attacks during the second debate left me wanting to stick my head in the sand until it’s all over. I don’t want to hear any more insults. I don’t want to read anymore headlines. I don’t want to talk to anyone from the “other side.” I want to completely disengage. Goodbye.
However, in addition to my anger and nausea at Donald Trump’s behavior in this election, at some point during the second debate a new feeling emerged. I began feeling sorry for him. Not sorry the way you feel for someone who’s the victim of something outside of their control, but sorry the way you feel for someone who is the victim of himself, someone who has so disconnected himself from others because of narcissism or pride or lack of empathy or feelings of unworthiness that he is totally miserable. I must not be the only one feeling pity for Trump because the always eloquent David Brooks’ op-ed “Donald Trump’s Sad, Lonely Life” is at the top of the most-read and most-shared list on the New York Times website today (you should read it).
Donald Trump’s self-imposed isolation reminds me of a story my pastor preached on a few Sundays ago. In Luke 16:19-31 Jesus tells about a poor man, Lazarus, and a rich man. The rich man wore fine clothes and ate like a king every day. Lazarus was poor, hungry, and covered in sores, and he lay in the street outside of the rich man’s gate begging for scraps from the rich man’s table. In the story, both men die; the rich man goes to hell while Lazarus is carried by angels to Abraham’s side. From hell, the rich man begs Abraham to send Lazarus to bring him even a drop of water. When Abraham refuses telling the rich man that a “great chasm has been fixed” between them that no one can cross, the rich man begs Abraham to have Lazarus go warn the rest of his family the fate that will befall them if they don’t change. Abraham again refuses saying that if the rich man’s family doesn’t listen to the prophets, they won’t listen to a risen poor man either.
Let me be clear. By invoking this story I am not saying that Donald Trump is going to spend eternity in hell. What I am saying is if Trump is separated from God and from others, he’s already there.
During his life, the rich man from Jesus’ parable was so distracted by his lifestyle and his power that he didn’t even realize that he was missing out on some of the best things life has to offer. He missed out on the joys of serving others, including Lazarus. He missed out on what could have been a beautiful relationship with Lazarus. There’s no telling who or what else the rich man missed out on, but it’s clear that his life was much poorer from an eternal perspective than it was meant to be because of his inability to connect.
What about me and my desire to disengage during this election cycle? Will turning inward put me on a path to narcissism and a lack of connection? Could my very heart and soul be impacted? Yes, I think so. Already on a number of occasions I have found myself writing off in my mind every Trump supporter…until I remember that members of my family who I love and respect are most likely voting for him.
I may not be able to avoid the pervasive, negative election coverage, but perhaps I can make it through with more grace by changing my perspective. Perhaps by moving from anger to compassion I will feel expanded rather than shriveled. Perhaps instead of disengaging from everyone who thinks differently from me, seeking bridges to understanding will lead to a powerful connection. Perhaps instead of hating Donald Trump, I can…pray for him.
What?I Pray for him!? Are you kidding me?
No, I’m not kidding. Isn’t that how I respond with compassion to anyone I think is hurting?
So, I’ve decided that I am going to pray for Donald Trump for the next several weeks. To be clear: I’m not praying that he gets elected. #ImWithHer I’m praying for something that I believe is of even more consequence.
What do you think? Is praying for Donald Trump crazy? Would you join me? I would love to hear your comments below. And thanks for reading!