Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God (Matthew 5:8).
Whether your candidate won yesterday, I hope you feel relieved that the campaign is over.
For months the media in tandem with political operatives buffeted us with a hurricane of scary messages to manipulate what we want. It takes great integrity to hold our values together in this kind of storm without watching them come unhinged and fly away like the boards, wires, and feathers of a chicken coop in a tornado.
Yet, if we get back to normal this post-election season, remember that normal for us is constant gale force winds. We take for granted the bluster of commercials telling us we’re not good enough unless we buy this car, that insurance, or the other mascara. We indulge in people’s idealized selfies and stories on Facebook that make us look plain in comparison. And the news media will not stop hooking us with fear.
No wonder I spend my days counseling beautiful, bright, energetic college students plagued by convictions that they already failed in life. No wonder so many of them will go home for Thanksgiving to parents who feel the same way about themselves and want a better outcome by reliving their lives through their children.
Let’s resolve this post-election day to turn this around with purity of heart.
Purity of heart takes so much more than innocence. It takes grit. For purity of heart is to will one thing, casting all else aside. To get there, one must turn inward and clear out your inner attic’s accumulation of extra junk.
Separating the junk from the one thing worth willing takes rigorous honesty with yourself. It takes repentance, apology, letting go, and allowing God to show you what that one thing is. Politicians, entrepreneurs, and journalists understand that we do not know what we want and need help naming and claiming it. If we do not ask God to show us, they will gladly step in.
Purity of heart is to will one thing, and not just anything. The only thing we can will by itself without add-ons like profit or prestige is the good of the Beloved. The Beloved is God, of course, God known to Christians in and through Christ. But Christ also shows up in friends, family, strangers, enemies, and even yourself.
How purity of heart plays out for you and for another may look very different. You landed in your particular place and time with the people about you and with your own peculiar set of gifts and limitations. Wherever you are, you look within and pray, “What do I want?” And that does not mean, “What suits my fancy?” Rather, it means, “What am I passionate about here and now in God’s presence?”
Contemporary politics frightens me. Commercial messages trigger self-doubt. Seeking purity of heart does not elevate me above the fray, and I can only claim that I seek it, not that I have arrived. But the seeking still gives me a sure foundation in high winds. By nightfall, it gives me a spiritual place to rest. And in the morning, it gives me a job to do, however small, in God’s great work toward making the peace we cannot make on our own.
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