In the waning weeks of 2020, I started hearing from people who were seeking help. All of them had the same basic issue that I’ll summarize like this: “How do I process the toxic political environment in a more healthy way?”
They were NOT asking me to help them with their political views. If someone asked me for that, I would kindly refuse. Politics is not my role.
But what people seem to be struggling with is the constant bombardment of rhetoric that raises temperatures, elevates anxiety, and feeds division. Democrats blame Trump and his supporters. Many Republicans talk of a nefarious conspiracy. Now there is unprecedented rioting in unthinkable places. There is even talk of civil war. All of this following a 100-year pandemic, racial tensions we’ve not had since the 60’s, COVID-19 deaths in the millions, lockdowns and shutdowns, and the economic uncertainty from all of it.
No wonder we’re all losing our minds.
But you do not have to lose your soul. There IS a way to navigate all of this in a way that is healthy. Let me help you.
First: YOU get to decide what you think about.
Most of the time, we allow our thoughts to lead us. And usually, that’s ok. But when the world around us is spinning out of control, the one thing we CAN control is our minds. You do NOT have to keep chewing on the turmoil. You can choose to stop the churning. Don’t give in to the chaotic, frantic, end-of-the-world voices inside and outside of your mind. Shut it down.
I learned to do this a few years ago when my family went through a serious meltdown. A close relative decided to send his life over a cliff and make really hurtful choices that had far-reaching implications. For the first few weeks, I replayed in my mind our interactions, the things he had said, the steps I and others had taken. I played the ‘what if’ game, working out a million different possible scenarios. I couldn’t sleep. I was gaining weight by the day. (I’m a stress eater. Food is my drug of choice.) In short, I was obsessed.
Then one day I had a revelation. It sounds so simple as to be flawed. But it’s not. I CAN control where my mind goes. So I decided. Everyday, I would allow myself 15 minutes to think about this family disaster. I would allow my mind to wander around and go wherever it wanted, think whatever it wanted, imagine any scenario it wanted. But at the end of that 15 minutes, I was done. No more.
Later in the day, it might surface again (this happened often at first) and I would say, “No, no. I gave that energy already today. I’ll allow it 15 minutes of energy tomorrow. But I’m done thinking about that today.”
You know what? It worked. And the battle got easier as time went on. For the record, the decision my relative made was never remedied. But I was able to keep my soul intact even when it felt like my world was falling apart.
Second: Give your mind something better to do.
Our 18-month-old granddaughter is a ball of energy now. Every Friday, we’re running, play-doh-ing, looking for squirrels, riding in the wagon, coloring, cooking, eating (she’s an eating machine!), reading, doing puzzles and playing with toys. Sometimes Kensley wants to do something she’s not ready for, like holding her baby sister or changing a diaper. I could just say, “No,” but she’ll just keep trying. Instead, I have to redirect her. “Let’s go outside and look for sticks!” I’m not sure how long looking for sticks will work, but today it’s magic!
The truth is that it’s not always enough simply to say “No” to your mind. That can still leave a void and, like my granddaughter, your mind might just keep trying. Instead, you have to redirect it.
The Apostle Paul understood this when he wrote these words:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8, NIV)
So try this: Whenever your mind gets wrapped up and amped up by the happenings in our world that are out of your control, deliberately think about something good. What’s the best part of your life? What are you thankful for? What do you see, when you sit outside and observe, that is beautiful? What do you love about your family? What do you see happening around you that is ‘praiseworthy’?
You can do this. You can.
Third: Keep a “Jesus wins” mindset.
There are a lot of people right now examining the book of Revelation, trying to decipher its code to figure out if this is ‘it’. Is Jesus coming back now? Is this the beginning of the end?
Some who feel that they have been betrayed or robbed of a truthful and honest election (which I’m not here to argue one way or the other) are so completely obsessed with what they feel is an injustice that they’ve forgotten a critical spiritual reality: Jesus wins.
No matter who runs the country, controls Congress or sits on the Supreme Court—Jesus wins.
No matter what laws are passed or what flag you wave—Jesus wins.
That’s the entire point of the Revelation of John: Jesus wins. Nothing can stop that. Nothing can change it. Nothing can alter the timing.
So calm down. Even if you weren’t treated fairly. Jesus wins. That’s what matters.
Lastly—and listen carefully:
Jesus is Lord. No one else.
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11, NIV)
Some of us have elevated political affiliation above spiritual allegiance. For the follower of Jesus, there is no entity—or person—who gets my absolute devotion more than Jesus himself. No one. Brian Hughes is NOT the chosen one. Neither is Steven Furtick. Neither is Donald Trump nor any president.
If you hear the words I just wrote as a political statement, you are missing the point. More importantly, it may be an indication of something gone wrong in your soul. I don’t care who he or she is, no one can be elevated above Jesus. I follow Him alone. People come and go—and that includes me and you and every spiritual or political leader you can think of. Only Jesus gets the distinction of being exalted to the ‘highest place’. Only at the name of Jesus will every knee bow and every tongue confess that He—He alone—is Lord.
Jesus existed before America was born and He’ll be around long after America is gone. You can find the calm for your soul that you are looking for when you place your trust in Him alone. I do have political views. I do love my country. I do vote. But none of that is nearly as important to me as Jesus is. He alone is Lord.
If you apply these things and live into them fully, you’ll find your anxiety going down and your sense of peace going up. And in the process, you’ll find healing for your soul.