What began as a means for communicating my personal thoughts to others, now serves me better to think out loud (personal journaling) . Of course, being that this blog is public, I’ll try not to be self-serving or in any way damaging to others, which is always possible when politics is a part of your calling.
Wow, what a difference 72 hours can make in one’s life. I woke up early on Election Day and did my normal routine of devotions. I then settled into a time of prayer, as I sensed that our council’s vision was at risk; in fact, our entire community had been challenged earlier by misinformation, which I mistakingly assumed we had dealt with earlier and adeqautely.
I wasn’t bothered so much by the thought of write-in candidates being elected, nor incumbents being unseated, but moreso the vision, developed by so many hard working people. No one knows the pain of politics until one has poured most of their personal time into a community for 2-4 years, only to see it disappear as for nought.
We were facing well-organized resistance conceived by trusted men who had earlier put out incorrect information, to create fear among the many who typically do not vote in off-year elections. Their goal, to gain control of the council; as one replied to me in the field, “welcome to small town politics.” I was expecting integrity from all now that Election Day had finally arrived. Yes, one of my weaknesses is idealism!
I had no idea of what was about to unfold during this long day, nor the surreal atmosphere generated when good people are misled. I was caught off guard by myself as well, given how much anger would well up in me as I watched this atrocity. Call it righteous indignation if you like, but by nightfall I was as guilty as any!
Then as early morning came, the pain of the reality hit, for I alone had been re-elected, not necessarily a win. Hindsight is 20/20 and we certainly misjudged our community’s readiness to consider debt for the first time. Given the current economic climate, we had hesitated but then chose to move forward with a bond referendum in hopes that the project costs would come in lower than projected. Capital projects attempted during a time when so much competition exists often can be done for much less.
As well, having an extremely low tax rate and tax cap, the only way to afford this much-needed project was through a bond referendum, which allows a community to override a tax cap.
Little did we expect that this referendum would be turned into a vendetta against current council and even councils past. Nor, that trusted community leaders would invest as much energy and possess so much skill at organizing a weekend write-in campaign. None of these men and only one of their sponsors had ever publicly protested our actions, during a period of extensive public discussion and mailings as far back as 2007.
That’s the context, but the message offered here is the phenomenal work that is occurring in my life as I attempt to regroup from my failure as a leader. I am appalled at the wretchedness that can lodge silently in one’s heart, only to be stirred by such actions. My bitter anger came spilling out in blatant disregard for others. The very thing I prayed against, I allowed to occur because of what must have been harbored deep in my heart. I better understand these words from Romans 7: “Oh wretched man that I am!”
Yet, a mystery to me is how that God can take scriptures, written by men centuries ago, as well as devotionals by the likes Oswald Chambers and the Ravi Zacharias team, and walk in lock step with us through both the conviction of our own shortcomings in the heat of battle, as well as provide wisdom, to walk us out of the weeds of words not so fitly spoken.
On top of that, God would give me the grace to take another breath, “suck it up” so to speak, and encourage myself; and even pursue those whom I earlier offended, so that we might move forward for the benefit of all.
I can no longer respond like a wounded dog in the road, snapping at everyone who tries to help, but rather step back and self-examine myself and our community. Though still somewhat raw, as are my comrades who helped guide this vision, the reality is that we must once again become whole, renew our integrity and repair the fabric of our community. Humiliation is a precious gift for leaders.
“God gives us a vision, and then He takes us down to the valley to batter us into the shape of that vision. It is in the valley that so many of us give up and faint. Every God-given vision will become real if we will only have patience. Just think of the enormous amount of free time God has! He is never in a hurry. Yet we are always in such a frantic hurry. While still in the light of the glory of the vision, we go right out to do things, but the vision is not yet real in us. God has to take us into the valley and put us through fires and floods to batter us into shape, until we get to the point where He can trust us with the reality of the vision. Ever since God gave us the vision, He has been at work. He is getting us into the shape of the goal He has for us, and yet over and over again we try to escape from the Sculptor’s hand in an effort to batter ourselves into the shape of our own goal.” –Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, July 6th.
I will press on!