I was pondering these last few weeks about the interesting similarities between the pre-presidential election season and pregnancy…the main difference being that I wish the pre-presidential election season only lasted 9 months!
It seems that each year the political season gets longer and longer…names are thrown into the running so much earlier than in years past. In a way, it seems to me, that the last two years of a reigning president’s term in office can be a rather pointless one. If the president was planing on a second bid, his energies are diverted towards the campaign ,and off of the leadership our country and world actually elected him to accomplish. If the president’s term is coming to an end, or if there is not a second bid in the works (I know, that’s beyond rare), they become marginalized. Our elected officials in Washington vote and speak out in attempts to gain party favor, and our loyalty, for the next election rather than negotiating on what needs to get done today.
Now, I know that is too broad-brushed for all elected officials, but much of that rings true, yes? Right now, at this point in the process , various candidates are tossing their hat in the presidential ring, is much like the newness of pregnancy. There is excitement in the air…new possibilities…freshness…new hope.
The candidates are for the most part unknown. We see many faces and read about many names that we know very little about. This shrouds the candidate in mystery and potential. I remember when Amy and I found out when our babies were to become a reality…man, what a mind-blowing time. The newness, the unknown kept us preoccupied and living in the now, not really thinking about what lay ahead, or what changes were coming down the pike…none of that really mattered, we were going to have a new baby!
Right now, the political scene has that feeling to it…there’s a new baby coming, name after name crosses the airwaves and we wonder who and what the next president will be like…That is phase one eh?
The second phase of pregnancy is when reality slowly creeps into the process. In the election contrast we also experience the reality of the candidate and the process slowly materialize. Every person promises to run on their platform, and vows to withhold from the temptation of political slander against their opponent.
As this season begins, we begin to see the differences or similarities between party candidates, and for the most part…I say that slowly…the candidates keep to the issues, and we begin to think and contemplate the various running platforms. This phase in pregnancy is very much the same. You have the ultrasound and begin to see the new life forming inside of mom’s belly. Mom and Dad are still excited and hopeful, but reality unmasks itself as they see the future baby moving, stretching his/her hands and fingers, and moving their head around in-utero.Thoughts begin to quickly contemplate the reality that a new life is joining the family, and there will be change in the near future.
Phase three is when the candidates are feeling the heat, and the possibility that they will not get the party nod, so the heat turns up, the promises of a clean campaign miraculously vanish and the television is filled with pictures of opponents that look like they were edited in hell. The floodgates are unleashed and the ugly side of politics is unleashed upon us.
You wonder what happened to that smiling face that was kissing babies in front of the camera and making promises about integrity and honor. Of course, they say, they had no idea and would never have approved those ads…right, sure, we know, call me a cynic but a presidential election is to big to make those kinds of mistakes. Humanity is capable of incredible darkness and has a brilliant ability to justify the means as long as it reaches their ends.
In pregnancy this might be the time when you get some ugly news that came from the results of the ultrasound. What was previously all joy and hope, enters a world of fear and anxiety as you saw deeper into the womb of life. I remember with Emma, my daughter, when the doctor called to say there were some results from the AFP test (alphafetoprotein) that were a concern and we would need to talk about our options.
The doctor told us that the test gave indication that our baby could possibly have Down Syndrome, so if we wanted to abort, now would be the time. Man, talk about the wind getting kicked out of your sails. Amy and I prayed. We questioned God. We questioned our ability to handle this. The dark side of pregnancy had visited our home.
Our hearts told us to move forward, life offered us the possibility for some refining decisions, but to us life is life, and it comes from God, so with fear and trepidation it was forward ho. The fear didn’t go away, but the reality that God was with us in this carried us through the worries. I remember cutting the cord, holding Emma in my arms, and the whole process of days filled with confusion and anxiety were gone. As it turned out, Emma was fine, but God had given us a pop quiz in the midst of the journey.
Even in the presidential-election season, God is giving pop quizzes to see how His people, and our candidates act with honesty and integrity. Sometimes we have done well, other times we see the dark side of politics and humanity.
Of course the final phase for both areas is often the most painful! There are commercials every 10 seconds where the final candidates shred each other, shred the other party and move to the birth process of the final election!
The last two major elections I have been in Africa. Being an absentee ballot kind of guy, I watched the news from a different perspective in a foreign land. Just as an aside, being a man, I can enter into the experience of birth only so far…my wife has a much deeper insight and connection into the process than I do. It was great to be there, but there was something going on at a much deeper level with Amy. I can’t enter that zone, but to see it and sense it is like a glimpse into the divine. In an election, there are many life experiences, teachings, and traditions that consciously and subconsciously form a persons choice, and those experiences are also something that I cannot totally understand. But when I open the dialog and enjoy the conversation, there is a deeper connection and understanding that transpires even if I can’t completely enter their journey.
The birth process involves alot of pain. I am amazed at the strength that a woman has for the life-giving act! I remember being so proud of Amy with both births. Birth exacts a toll on the mom and election night exacts a toll, and alot of pain too. Maybe the nation should get an epidural before tuning in to get the pole results!
It was interesting being in Africa, surrounded by a large number of people who were against the person I had cast my ballot for. I felt uneasy, unsafe to express my position, yet they sure felt fine with theirs! A life of integrity is forged in moments like that…when we choose to listen and not retaliate…to hear even when unheard. Jesus dealt with encounters like that almost daily!
Regardless of which party line you vote, if your candidate loses, there is often a sick feeling that morphs in your gut.This is only natural because you have become invested ideologically, theologically, and sociologically in a person. I know that feeling myself, and I am sure at some point, so have you.
The pain though, is the portal to the joy that comes after.
My heart’s desire is that we would learn to walk in community with integrity in the days ahead. No matter which lever you pull, or which chad is hanging on your election ballot. I pray that we would chose to walk with honor. There will be a candidate that wins and one that loses. Within your community of faith there will be people for either candidate. God will be giving us all a pop quiz in the season ahead to see if we will seek Him and keep the unity of the community of faith first…above losing our integrity by shredding each other, whether in the pews or in the papers revealing the dark side of politics or the painful journey of birth.
Right now there is the joy of anticipation and newness, but in the days to come there will be the beginnings of the dark side…it will come.
My challenge then is, may we live in such a way that God is honored, and we all pass His pop quiz of integrity instead of someone asking…"man, I think that baby needs a diaper change!