There is no denying that this past election year — yes, the past 365 days — has stirred up more emotion, caused more conflict, and created more enemies in America than any time since the 2015 Deflategate Super Bowl season.
After a grueling political season and with so much pent-up emotion, some people have greeted Wednesday with rejoicing, while others look into the void with dark despair.
Don’t let this political season steal your happiness for the rest of the year or beyond.
“I come from a ‘Christmas card’ family that is very close and does everything together,” said Olivia Smith (not her real name) of Lakeland, Florida. “We are very like-minded on most things, so when this election season came along, it really caught us all off-guard on how very passionately we disagreed. We went from speaking on a daily basis to going for weeks without talking at all.”
She added, “Every time I have gone to see any of my family members, the visit turned into a full-on political blowout — and I always left in tears.”
Just when you thought you might have experienced the most intense disputes with family members, the season has likely pushed the limits of a house divided. (And the holidays aren’t even here yet.) Whether or not you’ve chosen to engage the conversation with your family, no doubt it’s come up more than once.
Now the results are in and a president has been selected. The sun still rose the day after the election. And God is still God. As hopeless and as depleted as many people may feel about the outcome, as Christians we still have the greatest reason to be joyful. While it may feel out of reach, joy is still accessible and right within our grasp. Don’t let this political season steal your joy.
Here are six ways to restore your family’s joy (and kill any remaining hostility) at the end of this 2016 presidential election:
1.) Read to restore your joy.
Read the Bible together as a family, study a new verse each week, and listen to the Psalms on your Bible app on your commute to work. When times are shaky and families are tense, Scripture is a family’s most vital source of joy and certainly the most solid. Whether this is with the whole family or on your own, the more we read the Word, the more we engage the joy our souls thrive on. “The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart” (Ps. 19:8a NLT).
2.) Meditate on the sweet things.
Make moments as a family to thank God for all the good things in life. We can feel so run-down with the things that aren’t going our way that we overlook all our blessings. The simplest prayer before dinner offers a moment to think on the goodness of God, and encourage your kids to acknowledge all the ways He continues to provide — regardless of who sits in the Oval Office.
3.) Get together for a good time (and that means no politics).
Get outside for a day of apple-picking, go see a movie, or just enjoy dinner together. Turn off the news for one night, as painful as it is, and DON’T TALK ABOUT POLITICS. Get away from the conversation and iPhone notifications that have been regurgitated dozens of time and just enjoy relaxing together.
4.) Set your sights on the holidays.
“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas …” Yes, it is (even though Thanksgiving isn’t here yet). Though you may be thinking, “Who are you kidding? It’s beginning to look a lot like Election Day PTSD!” — just breath. Thanksgiving is around the corner and Christmas is just weeks away. Make some popcorn, put on the Christmas tunes (if your family is anything like mine, they’ve already been on to muffle the sound of the news) — and don’t let this election make you a Scrooge.
5.) Take a family road-singing or karaoke trip.
Take a day road trip to explore the scenic foliage outside that you’ve been missing while glued to the TV. Cram everyone in the car, turn up the music, roll down the window — and sing to your heart’s content. Not only is it a scientific fact that music has the power to change your brain, but when people get together to sing together, it increases music’s ability to alleviate depression and increase joy.
What’s done is done. Throw away the bitterness you’ve harbored with others — that’s just one more thing taking up room where there could be joy.
6.) Choose joy.
In our faith, joy is a virtue one can’t always feel, but must choose.
The great C.S. Lewis once said, “Moods will change … I know that by experience. Now that I am a Christian, I do have moods in which the whole thing [i.e.: Christianity] looks very improbable: But when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable … That is why faith is such a necessary virtue: Unless you teach your moods ‘where they get off,’ you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound atheist.”
The 2016 presidential election is over. Now we can all breathe a sigh of relief, find joy in each other’s company again — and return to our own reality TV.