To my brothers and sisters, we must weep with those who weep.

In the wake of this election, I am not primarily concerned with the well-being of our country. America is my home-in-exile, but the Church is my country and family. My primary concern is for the Church. She is deeply divided, and, to be frank, the last few weeks have felt like a shouting match rather than a family meeting.

In this election, many white evangelicals voted for President-Elect Trump. For those who did so, most viewed their vote as a vote against Clinton rather than a vote for Trump. However, the majority of Christian minorities supported Clinton (See the Washington Times, Christianity Today, and the Pew Research Center). This break-down along racial lines is deeply disturbing.

Even more disturbing than these voting patterns are the conversations in the aftermath

I hear my black and brown brothers and sisters expressing grief and fear over Trump’s election. Fear that the extremists who supported him will feel encouraged and harm; Fear that Trump will not respect them as image-bearers, as he has failed to respect many in the past; Grief that their white brothers and sisters do not appear to have considered these fears; Grief that their white brothers and sisters felt convicted to vote to protect unborn life, but did not appear to feel that same conviction about their brothers and sisters of color.

When these fears and grievances are voiced by others or myself, I feel unheard. I am told “do not sin by being anxious,” or “our citizenship is in heaven,” or “Clinton is just as bad.” I believe that these statements are well-meant. But, true as they may be, I think they reflect false assumptions about my heart and concerns. I am white, so I can only imagine that my brothers and sisters of color feel even more ignored or misunderstood.

I am not sinning by being concerned and grieved, and my concern is not faithlessness. Jesus wept over Lazarus, knowing that he would be raised by his own power. He lamented over Jerusalem, an earthly city. Many of the Psalms are laments. When Elijah was utterly hopeless in the desert, God did not rebuke him; he sent an angel with food and water. I will not stop expressing my distress; my Father God welcomes and commands it (Ex. 3, Psalm 55, Matt. 5, Luke 19, Eph. 5).

I am not sinning by having compassion for the fears of my brothers and sisters, or trying to raise awareness of their concerns. Our citizenship is indeed in heaven, and we are commanded to live in such a way in this world while waiting (Jer. 29). True and undefiled religion is caring for the oppressed, the hurting, the ignored (James 1). We are commanded to weep with those who weep (Rom. 12), as we wait through the labor pains of this world.

I am not condoning the sins of other leaders by highlighting the sins of one. Just as to highlight concerns of systemic racism is not to say that only black lives matter. It is utterly true that there were serious moral objections to both the major candidates in this election. This was a major part of evangelicals’ choices in the voting booth; it is not directly relevant to my concern. Both candidates were sinful, both loaded with baggage. This does not nullify the fears or grief of my brothers and sisters of color.

We do not need to focus on defending our choice in the voting booth; we must listen to each other. We are all children of God. Our hopes and tears are precious to him (Psalm 56). We have shown and continue to prove that we are not living in unity as we are called. Now is a great opportunity for conversations we have been avoiding. It is also a great opportunity to do horrific damage to the peace and purity of the church. We must learn to listen well.

I am a counselor. I have witnessed many friends and clients deeply wounded by their church families in the aftermath of loss. I have had a friend told “you’ll have more children” after the loss of an unborn child. I have witnessed grieving families rebuked for their “spirit of depression.” The dialogues I am witnessing feel similar. Discomfort with negative emotions is natural. Correcting godless despair is Biblical.

But rejecting grief and fear without first listening and understanding is not Biblical; it is foolish (Prov. 18). It may be true that your lamenting sister has forgotten Jesus is on the throne — but how can you be sure without a conversation?

For those eager to offer encouragement, be sure your brother knows you have heard him first. Without this, he will feel condemned and isolated, not encouraged. We must all learn to listen well, or else continue down a path of increasing resentment, disunity, and bitterness.