“Is Your Life Better Than It Was 4 Years Ago?” – Reflecting on Our Presidential Elections Post 2

It’s quite the question because it assumes so much context. As far as campaigns go, it seems to be powerful. As far as taking an honest look at it, it’s a bit audacious. They mean to ask it rhetorically as it obviously assumes that all of us ought to answer uniformly with a loud and emphatic “No!”

But what if after thinking about it, you find yourself having to answer “Yes” thereby negating the rhetorical nature of the question? Among the problems with the question is that it’s pre-loaded with arrogance and it assumes that the President has more responsibility than he actually does. He’s only the President, he’s not God.

Quick rabbit trail here – For those convinced that the Obama campaign is running the “liberal media,” the question is posed to the public at the same time we are told that gas prices have never been higher. If anything Romney must have drafted the news that day. Even further, news outlets are reporting that Obama’s approval rating is the lowest they’ve ever been (I’m sure the DNC will give it a bump up but I think they teach you in Dictatorship 101, not to issue these types of media releases if you control the media). Then again, it could simply be an oversight says by conspiracy theorist friend ;)

It’s interesting to me the Obama camp has responded to Romney’s question over the weekend. They’ve made comments like “Osama Bin Laden is dead and Ford Motors is alive.” Do they really believe these two symbolic names actually represent a national improvement worthy of a re-election? The problem is that we still have countless troops overseas and a 9% unemployment rate. Terrorism isn’t caused by one person nor does Ford employ the nation. It’s something but it’s clearly not enough.

Don’t get the wrong idea, this blog is not about politics, it’s more about perspective from my Christian point of view.. I am not anti-Obama, anti-Romney, pro-Obama, or pro-Romney. Both candidates insist they can relate to the middle class, both candidates insist their opponent cannot, and I am fairly certain that neither really can. And it’s ok, because they are only men pursuing the US Presidency. While it is the “highest office in the land,” it is not the most important matter of life.

Now the reality for me and my family is that our lives are better than they they were for years ago.
4 years ago, we only had one child, now we have three.
4 years ago, I was serving in ministry full time and studying full time, now I’m grateful to have completed my MDIV from Biblical Seminary and serving in a local church.
4 years ago, though it was nice, we were living in a parsonage, now we own a house.
3 of the last 4 years, we had medical insurance that carried an extremely high deductible for my salary.

Some of these issues were improved by our move to Massachusetts last year but it would be naive to assume that some of our challenges were not due to the declining economy. A helpful question for all of us simply is what would have been different had the economy not slowed? What would really have been different? It requires honestly, but you can add all sorts of follow-ups questions too. There are other considerations for me personally that I will not get into here not the blog but the reality is our lives are better.

And here’s my pushback against Romney, my pushback against Obama, and my pushback against those who take politics and presidential elections too seriously. If we are being honest, it’s a nearly impossible question to ask and adquately answer.

Some of this is about personal responsibility.
Some of this is about moving on from situations and contexts that are not to one’s long term benefit.
Some of this is God’s providence and leading.
Some will call some of this work ethic, gifting and probability.
Some will call some of this luck.
Some will call some of this foreordination.
Hence, the need for prayer, the need for reflection, the need to act and pursue change accordingly.

Still, I am not prepared to measure the quality of my life in 4 year intervals however. My grandmother died 4 years ago. I lost two of my uncles and other close people to me and my family. I’ve grieved with friends who have gone through miscarriages, received terrible health diagnosis, got divorced, those who have been laid off, and other painful scenes.

Even the candidates themselves know they dare not promise the prevention of such things nor am I insulating that they are saying this. My point here is to be careful how we dare to answer such questions when it applies in such a deep way in this life.

I hope the next 4 years bring a more stable economy, more jobs and offers solutions to many of our national and global problems and concerns. But the President is only a human – God is God.

For Susan and I, these past 4 years have brought us children, children to my sister and brother-in-law, and to relatives and dear friends. These 4 years have brought wonderful changes to people in my life circle. Friends have gotten married, got new jobs, been promoted, found love, some have even found Jesus.

My prayer for the next 4 years is that we see the hand of God moving in our lives, neighborhoods, churches, throughout our society and throughout our planet in powerful, life-giving, love-infused ways.


  1. Debispragetti says:

    4 years ago I was working for you. so yes, my life is better. I’m very much kidding about that. (you were one of my best bosses and I’ve had many.)
    However I am in 100% agreement with you that life is better after grad school and with a good job that fits who you are and where you are in life. I appreciate your turning rhetoric into an honest search about what actually matters for me as an individual. I think my life has improved over the last 4 years because I’ve worked hard and in His good timing God brought me to the right location for me. I still can’t afford health insurance. I still have student loans. I still have many of the problems these guys are campaigning on to try to win my vote, but I don’t care. My life and my decisions effect me twice as much as anything they do. I can choose my attitude and values. God willing and the creek don’t rise I’ll be here in 4 years wondering who might be leading us then.

  2. Realistically, I have a lot more serenity than I had four years ago. And that is huge — probably more than any other factor in making me feel that I’m better off than I was.

  3. Ha! I’m sure your life is better with a different boss now. Thanks for the kindness though.

    Grad school is a crazy time – so glad it’s over. Looking forward to going back one day though.

    Grace and peace Debi.

  4. Serenity, that sounds nice. What is that again ;)
    Glad to hear that Jim and hope the next 4 bring you more. Thanks for reading.

  5. Very good post! As Debi said, “I appreciate your turning rhetoric into an honest search about what actually matters for me as an individual.” –I think so many people (yes, even Christians ;) get swept up in the fervor of campaigns/candidates that they lose sight of The Bigger Picture of what God has done & is doing in their lives. (*Not to say that Christians -or others- shouldn’t be interested & involved in the political process!)
    Yes, so many people–including Christians–could easily/instantly answer “Yes” or “No” to that faux-rhetorical question.
    But your post reminds us Christians not simply “not to neglect that–” but to Preeminently Remember that God is above all and over all …and that His work in our lives transcends or even occurs ‘beneath’ the political atmosphere of the day.
    Thanks for the reminder :-)

  6. Hey Andrea, thanks for the kind words. Yes, the question is designed in the Yes/No and of course, implies the No. What I also find interesting is that I think some interpret the question in an entitlement sense like, “Well my life could be better” and answer in a way that expresses dissatisfaction with the powers that be.

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