The Quiet Confidence Of Ivanka Trump

I’m continuously impressed with Ivanka Trump and how well she carries herself, even when met with the most humiliating and hostile sentiments of those around her.

This photo was taken today at a women’s summit in Germany, where she was booed and “hissed” at (do women seriously hiss at other women? that’s grotesque) for referring to her father as a “champion of supporting families and enabling them to thrive.”

The moderator of the panel acknowledged the hostility of the crowd and confronted Ivanka, saying, “You hear the reaction from the audience. I need to address one more point—some attitudes toward women your father has displayed might leave one questioning whether he’s such an empower-er for women.”

And once more, we witness her incredibly poised demeanor in the well-spoken and gracious response she gave (per POLITICO):

“As a daughter, I can speak on a very personal level,” Ivanka Trump said. “I grew up in a house where there was no barrier to what I could accomplish beyond my own perseverance and tenacity. That’s not an easy thing to do; he provided that for us.” She said that her father treated her exactly the same way he treated her two brothers, who now run the family business. “There was no difference,” she said.

Her tone was not defensive, nor did she so much as grimace at the question she received. There’s a level of self-awareness and restraint here that we fail to give her credit for.

It’s very easy for us, as both consumers of the mainstream media and American voters, to forget that these people are just that—they’re people.

When we think of Donald Trump and his relationship with women at this point in history, our minds jump immediately to the recording released prior to the election of his conversation with Billy Bush. The things that were said were shameful, wrong, and have no place in American society, let alone American politics. It is appropriate to acknowledge that and to hold him accountable for what he said.

Nevertheless, as a daughter myself, I observe Ivanka’s willingness to stand by her father with admiration. She has not defended his behavior, which would be wrong—rather, she’s chosen to remain loyal despite his character, however deeply flawed it might prove to be.

I fight the urge to compare her to Chelsea Clinton as a public figure because I think my bias in comparing them would be obvious. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that the media approaches the two women from very different angles. While some outlets continue to, for all intents and purposes, plead Chelsea Clinton into a campaign announcement, Ivanka’s media coverage from those same outlets is critical, negative, and maintains, however subtlety, that she should be personally held responsible for her father’s splintered relationship with the female gender because she, herself, is female.

This is a difficult position to place a man’s daughter in. I struggle to recall a time that Chelsea Clinton has ever been asked to defend her own father’s promiscuity, and the one time I can recall was met with such aggressive criticism by the mainstream media that no one ever dared ask such a question again. And while she is placed on a pedestal, Ivanka is “hissed” at by her fellow woman, even as she speaks of promoting women and families at a public forum.

I was especially impressed with Ivanka in her interview with Gayle King earlier this month. King asked Ivanka if she had a response to critics who accused her of being “complicit.” Her response was commendable (via CBS):

“I would say not to conflate lack of public denouncement with silence. I think there are multiple ways to have your voice heard. In some case it’s through protest and it’s through going on the nightly news and talking about or denouncing every issue in which you disagree with. Other times it is quietly, and directly, and candidly. So where I disagree with my father, he knows it, and I express myself with total candor. Where I agree, I fully lean in and support the agenda and, and hope, uh, that I can be an asset to him and make a positive impact. But I respect the fact that he always listens. It’s how he was in business. It’s how he is as president.”

And in this one statement alone, we witness the quiet confidence of Ivanka Trump. She feels no need to justify herself to the public, and there’s something to be said for that level of self-assurance. It is clear she does not receive validation from the American people, which is important: it means her commitment to her values is not contingent on the approval of others. This is remarkable.

I fear that women are missing out on an incredible role model by so quickly jumping to criticize Ivanka. Many could say—and probably do say—that her loyalty to the President is self-serving, or necessary for her own professional success. I see it differently.

Ivanka has earned what she’s built. While I recognize the opportunities that inevitably come hand-in-hand with having the name ‘Trump’ on your birth certificate, she’s not been given all that she has. She is educated, professional, and successful by her own right. And yet, she has chosen to leave her empire behind (in some sense) to serve her father and the public in the White House.

How many celebrities are estranged from their famous family members? How many women wrestle with their self-worth (or lack thereof)? And how many experience behavioral crises at the hand of their damaging fathers?

It is clear Ivanka Trump is not one of those women. So why are we so quick to condemn her?

The Problem With Joy

In a thread of Instagram comments I recently came across, a friend-of-a-friend/mommy blogger/kindred creative spirit referred to her young son as her “melancholic child.” She said in the comment that sometimes, when he’s grumpy, she tries to approach his grumpiness by reminding him to be joyful. Recent to that post, he’d responded to her suggestion with: “I don’t know HOW to be joyful!” This made me chuckle, but man oh man, did I deeply identify with the words of her five-year-old.

I think I might have been this “melancholic” child when I was growing up. I think I’m still sort of this melancholic child, in fact, even at age 24—and while my family loves me very much, they will probably read this post and silently agree.

My grouchiness has been, at times, chronic and scathing. It’s a phenomenon I can’t explain and one I’ve thought, for many years, I couldn’t necessarily control. I remember feeling the internal conflict inside myself as a teenager of wanting to be cheerful with my family and feeling guilty for being short with them, but also feeling like I could not muster the energy for even so much as a smile.

Why? I still don’t know.

I’ve pondered this in my heart a lot over the past year. So last spring, I developed the habit of praying the joyful mysteries of the rosary on my way to work every day. As I made the drive from Joliet to Aurora, I’d pray the rosary on my fingers, starting with the Annunciation—the Visitation, the Nativity, the Presentation in the Temple, and finally, the Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple.

So when I was in Rome this past fall, I was sitting in the adoration chapel at St. Peter’s Basilica one morning, praying the joyful mysteries for the umpteenth time, when I realized something—these “joyful” moments we reflect on are actually surrounded by circumstances of suffering.

Consider the story of the Annunciation. The angel Gabriel appears to Mary and tells her that as a virgin, unmarried woman, she’s going to conceive a child who will be the Son of God. As Christians who know the end of the story, we see this moment as an immensely joyful one—how could the divine conception of our Lord in Mary’s womb not be a joyful moment? But for a young and unmarried virgin, this moment was one with remarkably heavy implications. This, for Mary, was likely a time of great suffering.

The circumstances surrounding the Nativity are another excellent example. Christ is born—and we rejoice! Again, as Christians who know the end of this story, we celebrate this moment. But for Mary and Joseph—new, expecting parents traveling for a government-mandated census, forced to stay in a barn—could have only been tempted to fret as our Mother went into labor. Inevitably, there was suffering surrounding this moment.

And yet, we refer to these moments as ‘joyful.’ Why? How could such suffering illicit such joy?

Mother Teresa sheds light on this.

Her approach to suffering, in any shape or form and regardless of circumstances, was the belief that suffering is always a gift. When she encountered people in her work who were deeply suffering—whether because of physical ailments or some other spiritual form of suffering—she’d tell these people, “how much the Lord must love you, to give you the opportunity to suffer.”

The Lord suffered what has been called one of the (if not THE) greatest physical sufferings in the history of the world. The pain of the Crucifixion was immeasurably intensified by His body’s exhaustion after carrying His cross to Golgotha. Add to the equation His head-to-toe wounds from the lashings He received at the scourging, not to mention the crown of thorns that He wore. Also consider the fact that mere hours prior, He was under such physical stress at the knowledge of what was to come that He was literally sweating blood (a real medical condition called Hermatidrosis). All of these very real, tangible physical sufferings He endured make up what was likely the most painful death in the history of the human race.

And He did it all for us.

So when we suffer, in any shape or form, it goes not unnoticed by our Lord, who suffered greatly. Our sufferings become an opportunity, then, to unite our hearts with His. Our sufferings become an offering the way that His were an offering for our souls.

The cross is the epitome of suffering. But when Christians see the cross, we are joyful. We are overwhelmed at the truth of the cross—which is that God loved us THAT much… to endure THAT level of suffering, all for the sake of our good.

Fr. Mike Schmitz, in a recent podcast, said that “joy is the secret of the Christian.”

Joy without suffering, he said, is not really joy. The two are married. You cannot have one without the other.

I believe, to some extent, there’s a level of mystery in the relationship between joy and suffering that as human beings, we’ll never understand. Just the same, I see how we should be joyful at the realization that our sorrows are not without purpose. I see how a life lived in pursuit of faith, and sorrows offered on behalf of souls, could not possibly be lacking in joy. There is SO MUCH hope in suffering. How do we know? Because there is SO MUCH hope in the cross.

So how could we not be hopeful?

How could life be possibly lacking in joy when there is so much reason to be hopeful? When we have such a wonderful God, who took care of Mary in her unplanned pregnancy? Who gave Elizabeth the gift of a child, even in her old age, who became the greatest prophet in the Bible? Who cradled the baby Jesus as He slept in a manger, and protected Him as His family fled genocide? A God who spared Simon’s life long enough for Him to look upon his Savior’s face? Who led the child Jesus to the temple, where His parents observed His teaching and knew He was willed for remarkable things? How could we know these stories and not be hopeful? And when there is so much reason to hope, how could we not have joy?

There is so much sorrow. Truly, deeply—there is so much sorrow. But without sorrow, there would be no joy.

Without sorrow, there would be no need for God.

And how could we not be joyful at that?

Finding Peace In Divine Mercy

I was sitting up in bed tonight, listening to music on my phone and scrolling through social media (as I often do), when I came across a comment someone had left on my blog’s ‘Contact Me’ page that I, for whatever reason, had not noticed before.

This person who commented did not like me or my blog, haha. That was obvious. He called me “a character,” accused me of white privilege, and shamed me for “backtracking” after a piece I wrote in my full time writing position for a political blog online.

This isn’t the first hateful comment that’s been directed at me on the internet, nor will it be the last. Especially in my current job, I’ve been on the receiving end of more than a handful of nasty tweets and social media comments. It’s simply in the nature of being a political writer today. I think most of my colleagues would agree that this is true.

It’s a little ironic though, because as I find myself on the receiving end of such comments online, I’m reminded that I’ve been the subject of similar scrutinies in my personal life—my real life—as well. Recent events have increased my awareness of a truth I’ve been vaguely privy to for some time, and have given it a greater foothold than it has had in the past: that some people just don’t like me.

I’ve always had a strong personality. Growing up, that fact won me both friends and enemies. Kids can be mean. Like, really mean. I got a little taste of that in junior high. Sometimes, I feel like those same opinions of my character have followed me – first, into high school. Then, into college—and now, most recently, into my mid-twenties.

That seems silly, right? It seems silly that I could feel threatened by the same voices that spoke out of turn when I was 12 and 13—more than a decade ago. But for those of us who’ve had this kind of experience, in whatever form it takes, I think it’s important to find peace here.

I said recently in a Facebook post: There will always be people in this life who do not especially like us. There will always be people who are judgmental, or rude, or who gossip, and there will always be people who are just simply mean. But we have to find peace in this place. We have to find peace in the knowledge that the Lord sees into our hearts. 1 Kings 8:39 says “…for You alone know the hearts of all the sons of men.” We have to find peace here—in this place where the Lord’s opinion is the only one that matters.

Sometimes how others treat us is more about them, but sometimes, it really is about us. Humility starts when we accept our own weaknesses and leave them at the foot of the cross, where Christ reminded us that His power is perfected in those weaknesses. And that’s what confession is for: to actively pursue that humility, that awareness of our own imperfections and our own inclinations to sin, so we can pick up and try again tomorrow.

Peace in this truth gives us freedom. Because once we realize the truth, which is that only the Lord’s opinion matters, and that our worth is founded in HIM—not in what others’ think or say of us—we are free to be “in the world but not of the world.” We are free to live with the approval of the Lord in mind, rather than the approval of the world and our peers.

Whenever a fellow sister or priest criticized another to Mother Teresa, it is said she often met their gossip with something to the effect of: “I’m sure if you or I had been in their situation, we would have done much worse.” We would do well to seek the best in people’s hearts and pardon the wrongs they commit. The mercy of the Lord is limitless; our mercy for one another should aim to achieve this same goal.

I’m a far from perfect person. I deserve much of the scrutiny that’s thrown my way. I am hopeful in the Lord, however, who sees my heart and hears my confession. I believe in His love, I believe in His mercy, and I’m grateful His cross has made all things new.

Blockin’ Out The Haters & Finding Peace In Divine Mercy

I was sitting up in bed tonight, listening to music on my phone and scrolling through social media (as I often do), when I came across a comment someone had left on my blog’s ‘Contact Me’ page that I, for whatever reason, had not noticed before.

This person who commented did not like me or my blog, haha. That was obvious. He called me “a character,” accused me of white privilege, and shamed me for “backtracking” after a piece I wrote in my full time writing position for a political blog online.

This isn’t the first hateful comment that’s been directed at me on the internet, nor will it be the last. Especially in my current job, I’ve been on the receiving end of more than a handful of nasty tweets and social media comments. It’s simply in the nature of being a political writer today. I think most of my colleagues would agree that this is true.

It’s a little ironic though, because as I find myself on the receiving end of such comments online, I’m reminded that I’ve been the subject of similar scrutinies in my personal life—my real life—as well. Recent events have increased my awareness of a truth I’ve been vaguely privy to for some time, and have given it a greater foothold than it has had in the past: that some people just don’t like me.

I’ve always had a strong personality. Growing up, that fact won me both friends and enemies. Kids can be mean. Like, really mean. I got a little taste of that in junior high. Sometimes, I feel like those same opinions of my character have followed me – first, into high school. Then, into college—and now, most recently, into my mid-twenties.

That seems silly, right? It seems silly that I could feel threatened by the same voices that spoke out of turn when I was 12 and 13—more than a decade ago. But for those of us who’ve had this kind of experience, in whatever form it takes, I think it’s important to find peace here.

I said recently in a Facebook post: There will always be people in this life who do not especially like us. There will always be people who are judgmental, or rude, or who gossip, and there will always be people who are just simply mean. But we have to find peace in this place. We have to find peace in the knowledge that the Lord sees into our hearts. 1 Kings 8:39 says “…for You alone know the hearts of all the sons of men.” We have to find peace here—in this place where the Lord’s opinion is the only one that matters.

Sometimes how others treat us is more about them, but sometimes, it really is about us. Humility starts when we accept our own weaknesses and leave them at the foot of the cross, where Christ reminded us that His power is perfected in those weaknesses. And that’s what confession is for: to actively pursue that humility, that awareness of our own imperfections and our own inclinations to sin, so we can pick up and try again tomorrow.

Peace in this truth gives us freedom. Because once we realize the truth, which is that only the Lord’s opinion matters, and that our worth is founded in HIM—not in what others’ think or say of us—we are free to be “in the world but not of the world.” We are free to live with the approval of the Lord in mind, rather than the approval of the world and our peers.

Whenever a fellow sister or priest criticized another to Mother Teresa, it is said she often met their gossip with something to the effect of: “I’m sure if you or I had been in their situation, we would have done much worse.” We would do well to seek the best in people’s hearts and pardon the wrongs they commit. The mercy of the Lord is limitless; our mercy for one another should aim to achieve this same goal.

I’m a far from perfect person. I deserve much of the scrutiny that’s thrown my way. I am hopeful in the Lord, however, who sees my heart and hears my confession. I believe in His love, I believe in His mercy, and I’m grateful His cross has made all things new.