Sometimes people have a hard time admitting when they’re wrong, but I’m no stranger to it. I can’t count the times I’ve said “I’m sorry” to people I’ve hurt or disappointed. I’ve been wrong about all kinds of things. Some people have forgiven me, and others haven’t. I’m sorry, and I can admit that. I should admit that.
I used to be an arrogant, Fox News-loving, NRA-supporting Republican. I once described myself as a free-market capitalist on the Today Show, and at the time, I was smug and even proud of it. I once measured success by status and income even though I had little of either one. I took pride in being a bit of a snob, and I lived a life of smoke and mirrors in the hopes that I could reinvent myself into someone who was powerful and important. I thought that would lead to a good life, but I was so wrong.
I thought that if I aligned myself with the most fiscally conservative party that I’d somehow become like them, and in my ignorance, I thought that would be a good thing. I was a lot more socially liberal than many in my party, but I didn’t believe that citizens of the United States had a fundamental right to healthcare (even when I didn’t have it,) nor did I see the problem with disparaging people who disagreed with me.
When I recommitted my life to Christ in 2013, I promised my blog readers that I wouldn’t become a Jesus-loving, Bible-thumping fanatic, but I didn’t exactly keep that promise. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve never actually thumped anyone with a Bible or attempted to argue that my view of God is somehow superior to their view, whatever it is, but I did become pretty vocal about my love for Him. That’s what happens when He radically and completely transforms even the darkest, most broken parts of your life into something for your good and His glory.
As my love for Christ grew, and as I recognized the incredible amount of grace that I received from Him, my political ideology shifted. And my view of success could no longer be measured by my ability (err, more accurately, my inability) to buy a $20,000 Birkin bag.
Now, a decade later, I measure my personal success by my ability to fulfill my purpose and to live without fear, stress, or anxiety. I feel most content when I’m able to encourage people and to love people (even the ones who make it challenging). Michael and I have a good life. Our needs are met, and while I no longer waste all of my money at Starbucks, I’m able to go there when I want to. I’m able to enjoy my life and the incredible people in it. And Michael and I both enjoy going to work every day, which feels like a success too.
I no longer see anything attractive about the divisive, fear-mongering, hate-perpetuating political party that I once admired, and this isn’t new. I didn’t vote for the president even though I predicted his victory long before he clinched the nomination. I voted for his opponent because while we didn’t see eye to eye on every issue, I believed that she would make a better president. Millions of Americans agreed with me, even if only by default.
I live a much quieter life now than I did prior to 2012. I limit the time I allow myself to watch CNN, and I’m happier that way. I’m still aware of the non-stop barrage of breaking news, but my soul is no longer tormented by it 24/7. As much as I disagree with almost everything I see on the news from both sides of the aisle, I don’t say much about it these days because I have no desire to add to the discord. There are enough people in this country doing that already.
At the same time, I think it’s important to note that, as someone who professes to love God, that He is love. There are people all over this nation who claim to be Christians, who are more focused on forcing NFL players to stand for the national anthem than recognizing that there are hurting, innocent children being ripped away from their families and abused at the hands of our own people. It’s repugnant and devastating and categorically opposite of what Christ calls us to do.
I may not be in a position of power that affords me the opportunity to change the despicable things that are currently happening on American soil, but I want to be very clear about something. I love God, and this darkness is not coming from Him. Christ died for those children. He loves them, and He expects me to love them. He paid the ultimate price for my sin and the sins of every human being – even the ones who are advocating for the hatred and torture happening at our borders now.
Those of us who believe in Him are commanded to love one another. Every other commandment hinges on that one. Love one another.
It’s so easy to become judgmental when we don’t have to bear the burdens or the consequences of it. That’s not what I’m trying to do here. I know that a lot of folks who disagree with me have good intentions, and though I don’t understand how they can possibly see these issues the way they see them, God loves them too. His mercies are made new every day, and His grace is big enough to cover every sin…every sin.
As someone who loves Jesus and desires for others to experience the love I’ve received in Him, I want to be clear that I disagree with what’s happening in our country. I love being an American, but I think it’s time for those of us who claim to have the love of Jesus in us to actually reflect the love of Jesus in us.
I don’t know how to fix what’s happening. It feels so much bigger and more overwhelming than I can express, so I’ve spent a great deal of time this week thinking about what I can do to make a positive impact with what I have.
What can I do to love someone today? How can I shine light into someone’s darkness? What can I do to promote peace?
We live a dark world, and nothing that’s happening is a surprise to God. The thing is, He’s not going to force us to choose love. We get to decide whether we want to be bearers of peace or facilitators of fear and hatred, and I’ve made the wrong decision so many times. I’ve failed to be gracious when I could have, to show empathy instead of trying to convince people that I was right, to promote goodness when it wouldn’t have cost me anything, and it’s likely that I’ll fail in the future as well. We’re all human, and we all make mistakes. I’m just admitting mine right now because I don’t want to make the same mistakes in the future.