We had so much fun traveling in our RV in 2016, and have treasured the memories ever since our return to Minnesota.
However, there were some challenging days…
October 5, 2016 in Portland, Oregon. We were still newbies, having been on the road for exactly 2 weeks. We were looking for a good place to stop, but there were no options in sight. We drove and drove until we finally reached a rest area, almost 2 hours past when we hoped to take a break. We stopped…in the rain…checked everything over, and found the battery in the Honda we were towing was dead. We unhooked the Honda, pushed it up to where the engine was in the RV so we could jump-start it. It was tense. Neither one of us felt very friendly. Mostly we felt rained on. But this was not the worst day.
October 13-14, 2016 in Yosemite.
We crawled up the mountain in the RV. There was no guard rail. It was scary. We didn’t have a plan. We kept climbing and climbing until finally we came across a campground. Nearly panicked, I went in and asked, “Do you have any vacancies, or advice?” I was so relieved they had space that I booked 2 nights at a premium rate. After we got settled, Jeff asked the campground manager what the best way was to get back out. As it turned out, we had to exit the same way we entered. This was not good news. In fact, it was so scary, we barely slept that night and decided we needed to leave the next day to get the dreaded descent behind us. I texted the 3 most committed prayer warriors I know, explained our situation, and asked for prayer. Jeff unhooked the Honda from the RV for me to drive separately, to remove any unnecessary weight pushing him down the mountain. I took Brooklyn with me, and then we said our goodbyes! The drive was so stressful and the ultimate arrival at the end was such a relief, we checked into a hotel to recuperate.
But this was not the worst day.
November 7th and 8th, Zion National Park, our new favorite national park. It was beautiful…breathtaking…magical. We ate at a local café for breakfast both mornings, right outside the park.
We fantasized about moving to Hurricane, UT where I would get a job at the café, and Jeff would get a job as a shuttle driver in the park and we would live happily ever after, surrounded by beauty, warmth and good food. But it was time to move on to the next stop. It was the only night we stayed at a Walmart, but it was in Hurricane, UT so we didn’t mind.
We woke up the next morning and it was the worst day–November 9, 2016, exactly one year ago. I got the text from one of my BFFs at the same time we heard it on the news. The results of the election. I was stunned. I’m still stunned. I was horrified. I’m still horrified.
He had already mocked a disabled person. He had bragged about sexual assault. And he still won.
It gets worse. I found out 81% of white Evangelicals voted for him, some of the same people who said “character counts” during Bill Clinton’s presidency when we were outraged by his behavior. Thus started a year-long identity crisis that many of us in the minority 19% experienced. We aren’t sure what we are anymore. Are we still Evangelicals? Did they change or did we change? We read the Sermon on the Mount over and over to make sure we hadn’t misunderstood who Jesus is. We hadn’t. And we grieved, and shook our heads, and reached out to like-minded people, trying to make sense of an unexplainable outcome. The most committed ones marched. God bless them.
Since the election, and even during the campaign, there were times I avoided people and gatherings and events because the differences I perceived between us became too great. I have tried to understand. I have kept my mind as open as I was able, and learned of various reasons people felt forced to choose the president as the lesser of two evils. Sometimes I understood their reasons. But what I could never understand, will never understand, are those who embraced him. Those who were excited to vote for him.
Some of the things that have happened since the inauguration seem trivial now….like Kellanne Conway introducing the phrase “alternative facts” or offering in an interview, “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff is what I would say.” Other things are silly and bizarre like the May 31st Tweet, “Despite the constant negative press covfefe.” Other things are downright hateful, like the July 26th policy change via Twitter, regarding his intention to prohibit transgender people from serving in the military, as though he takes pleasure in creating pain, division and fear. His response to crises, of which there are too many to discuss, is abysmal. Regarding our citizens in Puerto Rico, who are still suffering, he said “…This is an island surrounded by water. Big water. Ocean water.”
Then typically, he goes golfing.
But, there is good news. Although I don’t comfortably wear my former labels, I have found some new people, and they are amazing. Inspiring. Motivated. They are teaching me things. I’m listening. I’m taking notes. I’m learning to speak up. I’m less afraid. This will not last forever. I don’t know what the president’s religion and that of his supporters is, but it’s not the same as mine. Mine is not defined by demanding more rights, or feeling empowered to say “Merry Christmas.” It is defined by humble servanthood, and standing up for those whose rights are being threatened.
We are one year in. We are stronger. We are resolved. We will stand together through another day, or another 3 years, whatever it takes, and that “worst day” – November 9, 2016 will be remembered as a powerful turning point. Thank you for standing with me. Cheers.