Can we all just soak that in? Really ponder it and be honest with ourselves when we analyze our own responses and reactions to people who have different opinions than us? I've valued those words from Aristotle since undergrad. I've changed a lot since then (thank you, Jesus), but one lesson I began to learn early on is that people get really really worked up when you don't agree with them. The moderate sized university I grew up at (at least a little) was smack in the middle of the bible belt, sure...but it was a university and liberalism seeped into every classroom. Stick with me--I will not be discussing politics, I promise. Due to the nature of my studies, I had many psychology, sociology, and other social science classes. Often topics of morality and politics came up in discussion and I sat around while the more vocal students spoke up with their opinions. Usually it was the more liberal, outspoken students who wanted to share. I considered myself a middle-of-the-road gal myself, but I couldn't stand to listen to only one side of the opinion brought up over and over again knowing that so many of my classmates must be conservative on some topics, at least. I remember vividly the first time I said anything political in class. I was immediately put in a category by some. It was the She-is-a-crazy-right-winger-and-therefore-dumb-and prejudice category. I believe my comment was on education, too. I recall one girl in particular talking about me after class as if I couldn't hear. She flunked out later, much to my delight. But I still remember her at times. I think it was one of the first times, as an adult (again, sort of), that I felt zeroed in on by another woman for no other reason than a difference of opinion on policies in education. You must be thinking, who cares? And I don't care about that particular situation, but what I do care about is the overall theme that keeps creeping back into my days: WHY ARE WOMEN (or people in general) NOT SUPPORTING EACH OTHER?
If I'm speaking candidly, I'll admit I do not give a crap about your opinion on this election. Why though, are we being downright ugly to those who decide to talk about their own opinions that don't line up with our own? Newsflash: There's a way to discuss, if you choose, without being rude, condescending, and mean.
As promised, it's not even about politics per se, it's about the Mean Girls Tendency. Jordan told me a story tonight about a nurse he was working with who said some fightin' words about me, someone she has never met or laid eyes on. I think he had said something along the lines of, "I'm gonna go and get home so I can fix dinner." Jordan enjoys cooking. It's a hobby of his and he does most of the cooking in our home (at dinner time anyway). Her response was, "Does your wife have a job?" When J told her I was a homemaker, she went off on a tangent about how she couldn't stand stay-at-home moms who couldn't actually accomplish X, Y, and Z at the house. My innate, sinful reaction was, "What's her name? What's her number? I will punch her in the face." And I would, y'all...before Jesus. I calmed down quickly enough because the last few days especially I've been in the Word about this very topic. Aren't we the hands and feet of Jesus? Those of us called into His family, aren't we to be loving others as He does? I was so mad at her (ridiculous) comment because it's obvious that she has never done anything like what I do on a daily basis. She couldn't have known that I've not been home at all today because stay-at-home parenting isn't exactly staying at home when you have a child with special needs. Oh, no. The day is spent in the car driving from appointment to appointment. It's spent bouncing the baby through three hours worth of therapy. It's spent managing times for driving to the sitter for one, school for another, stopping to nurse another, and listening while the deaf three year old voices how much he hates being in the car all day at the top of his lungs, for the love. It's spent on hold with insurance companies. It's spent budgeting and balancing the massive medical bills we accrue. That nurse didn't know that I came home today after a long day and started doing the dishes, preparing dinner, and putting four beautiful children to bed by myself. I bet she didn't take into account the time I spent going over my five year old's scripture he's committing to memory even though all I wanted to do was throw everyone in bed and sit down at the tv to shut my mind off. No. Her resounding message was that I was lazy and that just runs all over me. I certainly don't vent to her husband how her job is because...wait for it...I have no idea how hard it must be for her each day. I just trust that it is. I've never met her. I don't know what she's going through. Who am I to judge?
And that is the problem. We form these big opinions from behind our computer screens about what women are supposed to be and we forget to love and support the women right in front of us unless they are exactly like us in every way. A sweet friend recently pointed me toward Galatians 1:10:
"Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people I would not be a servant of Christ."
Do you need applause or likes when you put someone down harshly? I mean that sincerely not confrontationaly. And if I may speak to the other side of this coin, do you (I!) need this person's approval? Why? We needn't place value on the opinions of others apart from God's own opinion. Our identity comes from Him.
What does God say? This verse is plastered around my house because I need it in my role as a mother, but it is applicable in this conversation, too-
"Rather, let it be the inner person of the heart with a gentle and quiet spirit that is precious to God." 1 Peter 3:4
It's the same thing your mama probably taught you- "If you don't have anything good to say then don't say anything at all." I just think that a lot of times we are caught up in being right and loud about it that we forget that the people we are shouting at are people God loves tremendously, too. I'm not advocating that you don't stand up for something you believe in; I'm advocating for growth and appreciation for women (or men) who don't feel like you. Certainly continue challenging your beliefs and know why you feel the way you do, but don't let it compromise your love for following Jesus wholeheartedly. And Jesus loves the sinner. Despite their wrong actions. Despite their shortcomings. Jesus loves us. Amen. I'm so thankful for that love- that my King would die for me. His approval is what I seek. I can't worry about yours. It's a challenge for me every day. My tendency is to base my mood on others and if they're not happy with me then I'm down in the dumps. Almost daily, I have to remind myself that it doesn't matter what the world thinks of me, only God. Some of us aren't cut out for open dialogue on touchy subjects (ahem, me), but we are all cut out to stand for Jesus if He is indeed our King and He is mine. And what He has told me during this election period and during this season of my life is this: I am not called to blindly accept, but instead I'm called to love. If I have beef with someone's misguided opinion, I will focus on that in prayer. Seeing love in action is so much more powerful than someone's opinion being delivered unkindly.
As y'all vote (or whatever), I ask that you remember the people in front of you, beside you. You will still have to live with them despite who is elected. There are good Republicans. There are good Democrats. There are good Independents. There are good white people. There are good black people. There are good people and let's give them the benefit of the doubt.
Sorry for the novel!