a letter to my kids on the eve of the inauguration

pexels-photo-129112Dear kids,

As you know, tomorrow is a big day for our country.  Donald Trump will be sworn into office as the next President of the United States of America.  Occupying that same big, white house and following in the footsteps of such predecessors as Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Thomas Jefferson, all eyes will be on President Trump over the coming four years.

That’s the thing about leadership, kids- it’s a responsibility that should not be taken lightly.  People watch their leaders closely.  People listen.  People mimic.  Leaders set social mores and solidify cultural norms within their sphere of influence.  It just so happens that the presidential sphere of influence is deep and wide.

But, guys, listen.  As a new president steps into the oval office this week, and as we stand witness to the inevitable change he has promised over the coming weeks and years, I need you to know something.  I need you to know that even the most powerful human in the world would have no bearing on your own moral code.  And I need you to hear me when I say that our family will never be swayed or defined by behavior and attitudes deemed “normalized” by our society.

Kids, here’s the deal.  This is how it’s going to go down tomorrow:

You’re going to wake up, and you’re going to get dressed and go to school.  It’s going to be business as usual.  You’re going to work hard and obey the rules and show kindness to your classmates.  And then, you’re going to come home.  And when you do, we will have a new president.  And you know what?  The American flag will still be flying, and our God will still be in control.  Truth will still be truth.  Our hope will continue to be firmly rooted in Christ.  And our family’s rules, expectations, and norms will be completely unchanged.

Because, in our home, we will not live in fear of any leader or policy or perceived threat, for we know our Keeper, and we know that He alone is sovereign.

In our home, we will not place our faith in promises of economic change and prosperity, for our God is the manna-provider, and we believe in radical generosity no matter what.

In our home, we will throw open our doors to those on the fringes of society, knowing that those are the very people to whom Jesus gravitated.  When the world’s eyes are closed to the outsider, our eyes will lock in and say, “I see you.”

In our home, we will be slow to speak and quick to listen.  We will speak the truth in love and will use our words for good and not evil.

In our home, we absolutely will not support the normalization of anything that goes against scripture, no matter how counter-cultural this may be.  We will live by the norms set by Christ Jesus Himself, chiefly love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

In our home, we will respect others.  This means that we will respect our elected officials and those who voted for them.  Likewise, we will respect those who stand in adamant opposition and who are mourning the transfer of power.  We will look around and see our peers, colleagues, family, and president through the lens of the gospel, recognizing that we are all broken sinners in desperate need of grace and mercy.  And that not one of us can be saved by our own merit or goodness.

Listen, kids.  Learning to lead well is so very important.  Still, our lives do not rise and fall based on the power of any earthly ruler or authority.  And no role model, no matter how charming, competent, or smart, is worthy of our complete allegiance.

So, in summary, I guess my message is this: Don’t be like Donald Trump.  Or Abraham Lincoln.  Or Rosa Parks or Malala Yousafzai or Steph Curry or Beyonce.  (Though, let’s just be real.  If you’ve got pipes like Bey… I claim lifetime first row seats at your concerts.)  Don’t strive to be like Moses or Peter or Paul.  And if you have your mom and dad on some pedestal, I hereby give you permission to knock us down.  Because, you know what?  Every one of us is deeply flawed, and we’ll all ultimately lead you astray.

Carson.  Mary Grace.  Elizabeth.  Hang with me; this is important.

In our home, we will always, always point you back to Jesus.  You’ll see plenty of leaders and influencers come and go.  So, go ahead and take note of the good.  Of the ways in which they lead with excellence and model what is right.  Meanwhile, don’t forget to learn from the bad.  From their mistakes and missteps.

But, at the end of the day, remember- any good you see in this world is found in its fullness and completion in Jesus.  And kids, no person is ever, ever too broken for His mercy.

There’s only One who keeps His promises every. single. time.  One who loves perfectly, no matter the sacrifice or inconvenience.  One whose kingdom will never, ever fade and who will be worshipped by every nation and tribe, color and dialect.

And I have one clue for you: it is certainly NOT our president.

So, let’s land there tomorrow, kids.  And every single day that follows.

Love,

Mom

21 Comments on a letter to my kids on the eve of the inauguration

  1. Brittany Salmon
    January 19, 2017 at 4:14 pm (9 months ago)

    Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. YES.

  2. Helemarie
    January 20, 2017 at 5:17 am (9 months ago)

    Beautiful said, Our Hope is in our Lord. We are called to Pray, and walk in Love.

  3. Amy
    January 20, 2017 at 8:53 am (9 months ago)

    Wise words, thank you.

  4. angela
    January 20, 2017 at 9:02 am (9 months ago)

    Perfect

  5. Loretta
    January 20, 2017 at 9:04 am (9 months ago)

    Amen

  6. Rachel
    January 20, 2017 at 10:32 am (9 months ago)

    LOVE this!!! Thank you for the beautiful reminder!

  7. Name*
    January 20, 2017 at 1:16 pm (9 months ago)

    Ironic how this letter is penned now rather than when we had a president that was non Christian, against Jerusalem, supported Islam and made homosexuality gender transformation and whatever you want to be that day the norm. Explain to me how trump is so against anything in the bible.

    • Ginny
      January 21, 2017 at 2:24 pm (9 months ago)

      As I read this tender letter from a mom to her children, it seemed to me it was strictly pointing out (and no doubt NOT for the first time) how prone to failure all leaders are and pointing the way to our loving Savior, and was not in any way trying to put on a scales the comparative failures of all human beings. As in Romans 3:23, ALL have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. To me this letter is simply a timely reminder for our next generation of kids that we don’t judge others but simply try in our human weakness to follow Christ, Who had no sin. And really the only way to do that is to start by examining our own hearts in light of God’s Word.

    • Tara
      January 23, 2017 at 12:24 pm (9 months ago)

      Maybe her kids weren’t even born when pres Obama was elected…. someone always has to criticize !!! #thisiswhywecanthavenicethings

  8. Ashley
    January 20, 2017 at 2:22 pm (9 months ago)

    Amen! So beautifully said.

  9. Zola
    January 20, 2017 at 4:06 pm (9 months ago)

    Amen so glad we have a choice well said

  10. Jeanette
    January 20, 2017 at 6:04 pm (9 months ago)

    Thank you. This is beautiful and strong and true.

  11. Lenore
    January 20, 2017 at 8:15 pm (9 months ago)

    What about people who do not believe in Jesus and really believe in God? I’m tired of people thinking that Christian people are the only right people.

    • Catherine
      January 21, 2017 at 9:09 am (9 months ago)

      Hey there, Lenore. Thanks for reading! I definitely hear you- thanks for the comment! My faith is the lens through which I see all that’s happening in our nation and throughout the world. It changes the way I view politics and, in this instance, the way I communicate with my children. That lens also informs the way I believe others should be loved and valued, no matter their faith or views. Healthy dialogue with people who see things differently than me is so crucial to to learning how to truly love others and love the world…. thanks again.

  12. Lisa Bates
    January 20, 2017 at 10:04 pm (9 months ago)

    Love your perspective!

  13. Barbara B. Berry
    January 21, 2017 at 6:34 am (9 months ago)

    I have read your posting with much interest and I’m assuming much older than you, as I have married children and grandchildren.
    We are blessed to live in a Country that allows us to speak our minds. Men and women have died for us to have this right among others. As you have done, so will I.
    Our new POTUS was duly elected by a process that was set forth hundreds of years ago by men guided by Godly principles. I do not worship or pray to the POTUS but I will pray FOR him and respect the office he has assumed. Do not hide behind religion or faith in God to disengage in civic responsibility. Because one serves in Government does not mean that one does not believe and acknowledge the wonders of our Lord.
    Like it or not, we have a new President, NOT a new God and it would be a wise parent to teach your children respect for the office.

    • Catherine
      January 21, 2017 at 8:54 am (9 months ago)

      Hey, Barbara! Appreciate your thoughts. I, too, am so grateful to live in a country that values free speech and the democratic process. Absolutely agree that, while Christians should never elevate politics above the gospel, we are to take seriously our civic responsibility. I join you in praying for President Trump and his administration and will continue to model to my kids what it looks like to love God, love others, and love the world. Thank you!

  14. Debbie
    January 21, 2017 at 12:20 pm (9 months ago)

    We all look at and read things with our own lenses and filters firmly in place. That some inferred criticism of the highest office in the land simply shows that they are unwilling to voice their discomfort regarding the person they have chosen to occupy that office. Read with an open mind, you are simply reinforcing for your children the moral code and acceptable standards of behavior with which you have raised them.

  15. Lisa
    January 22, 2017 at 3:44 pm (9 months ago)

    Letter to my child

    Dear Son,
    I have raised you to be kind, to tell the truth and respect others. I’ve tried to teach you to do the right thing, even when no one is looking, even when it is hard. I’ve taught you to choose your words carefully, what you say can leave a deep womb in others. Reach out to others, not just to those you agree with, but to those you don’t, get to know their hearts. Be prepared, do your homework. Although you are an intelligent young man, there is always much to learn from others, be willing to admit to what you do not know and educate yourself so that you do. Remember to be humble, don’t let your pride keep you from listening to those you disagree with or keep you from apologizing when your wrong. Don’t make excuses or blame others for what you say and do or when things aren’t as you wish them to be. Be respectful to those you agree with as well as those you don’t. Don’t pick your friends because they tell you what you want to hear, pick them according to what they do. Don’t decide your value based on who likes you or not. Don’t spend any energy attacking those you believe have personally wronged you. If you continually do so, you will be viewed as petty and it will cause far more damage to you to be invested in such negativity. Always know that your life rests in the hands of a loving God that sent His son to our world as proof of that love and as an example of how we are to live our lives. Today our country has a new president, a president that was fairly elected by the laws of our great country. It is my opinion that he does not reflect the values I work so hard to instill in you and that makes me sad. Although I did not support him I will respect the office, however I will always question the man that holds it, for he has great power that can effect the lives of many. When you are old enough to vote, vote for those who reflect your values. Be cautious of those who say they reflect them, yet they don’t live them. God has told us there will be false prophets. If they show you who they are, believe them. Don’t place your faith in any one man, to “save” our country, for we have seen too often what the consequences can be when we place our faith in men. This very belief places us at risk of compromising the things we believe when we give a man that much power. For the past year we have watched as the election unfolded. Our family has always voted from a conservative position as they had seem to more closely reflect our values. This year we had more candidates to chose from than most any other election. Many of them had not only voiced the values that we hold dear, but also seem to have a history of doing their best to live them. Were they perfect? No there will never be a perfect candidate because man is not perfect. But never excuse someone’s behavior as “no ones perfect” if they continually hurt you or others. If someone is not willing or can’t see their faults or make little effort to change, then they must be held accountable. I can not explain, how we as conservatives nominated a man who I see as far removed from the values we hold dear in our family and as Christians. A man that started his campaign off by blaming an American war hero for getting caught. A man that called each of his opponents derogatory names, even to those who shared the conservative positions, he professed to believe. A man that has difficulty controlling his impulse, even when it is his own best interest as we saw when he spent his time and energy in a Twitter war with Ms Universe, thereby allowing the media and his opponents to continue their nerative, and then blame them for doing so. A man who gave legitimacy to a story from The National Enquirer that his opponent’s father murdered another president. I can not explain him or defend him. Although I am greatly concerned that we have chosen this man to be our president, I am thankful to live in a country that doesn’t resolve our political and religious differences with war. Son, know that even though we don’t recognize Christian values in our new president, that doesn’t mean those who voted for him don’t have them. People have various reasons for voting ther candidates. But know, as a Christian, the reputation of Christianity is in serious jeopardy. If you choose as your leader, a man who says he is a Christian, but it’s difficult to recognize by his actions, then people will question your sincerity, especially those who don’t believe. Many will defend their support of this president as they felt he was the lessor of two evils, but we must be honest with ourselves – we know that’s not true, we had a field of 16 other candidates to choose from. What made many of the Evangelical leaders help him become our nominee? There were a few who didn’t and have been criticized for not doing so, but I admire their willingness to follow their hearts instead of what was popular within their community. This is a good lesson to learn. Son, I do ask that you respect the highest office in our land and respect one’s right to choose differently than you, but live up to the values you have been taught; be kind and respectful, for your words and actions have consequences and they will define who you are and your reputation. Always stand strong for what you believe in and pick your leaders accordingly. Try to remain objective whether your candidate wins or looses, for they are human, they hold great power and we must hold them accountable. If your candidate wins, don’t become so invested in “being right,” that you justify their actions when their wrong or become unwilling to be objective. If your candidate looses, same advice, be objective and admit to the opponents successes. Always hope and pray for the best, even if you have concerns about your leaders, we are all God’s children and we are blessed to live in this great country. Stand up for your values, vote for leaders that mirror your values in thought and in deed and always hold them accountable.

  16. Andee
    February 1, 2017 at 9:51 am (9 months ago)

    Excellent letter.