I was utterly unprepared for the impact – mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically – of election day 2016. I was away from home, taking a weeklong course at Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta as part of my Pastoral Study Project grant. I became more anxious through the day, despite the class focus on discernment. As precincts began reporting and the outcome became clear, I started furiously doing push-ups in my guest room. I was hardly able to drag myself out of bed the next morning to join the other zombies who couldn’t believe what had transpired.
Though next Tuesday’s election is a midterm, it is perhaps the most consequential one of my lifetime. I expect it to be a hard day, so I’m going to be proactive about my self-care. I have blocked off my calendar for the day, because I don’t anticipate being my most focused self for coaching calls. I will bookend my day with barre class, which makes me feel stronger in body and mind than anything else I do. I have signed up for a Get Out the Vote phone banking shift so that I will know I am contributing to civic engagement. I will play with my son after he gets home from school and eat dinner with my family, which will help me stay grounded in my most important relationships. I will offer prayers of thanksgiving and petition throughout the day in quiet moments. Somewhere in there, I will cast my ballot. And in the evening I will watch the results, holding in my heart and brain the reminder that though God calls us to join in justice-making, our ultimate hope is not in human processes.
If you anticipate that election day might be anxious for you (no matter what your political persuasion), how do you need to plan for your self-care? Here are some prompts to help you start your strategizing:
- How do you want it to be with your spirit on election day?
- How do you hope to show up for your loved ones, the people in your care, and your larger community, both on election day and in the days that follow?
- What do you need to say no and yes to in order for these things to happen?
- What can you use as a touchstone throughout the day, whether a word, a verse from scripture, an image, or an act?
Whatever happens on election day, let us seek out connection with others, be generous in our thoughts and with our resources, align ourselves with the most vulnerable, and continue to partner with God in bringing about God’s reign.