Today is the Michigan primary, so the boys and I trekked over to our neighborhood elementary school so I could participate as a Michigan voter for the first time. The teacher in me thought about digging through my bins of children’s books to grab whatever I have about presidents and elections and America, but of course my boys are much to young to understand any of it.
Today is also International Women’s Day, and it seemed like a divine coincidence that I could exercise one of my greatest privileges, one of my hardest fought-for rights on this day, with two little boys in tow.
Like many, I am more discouraged than ever about American politics. On some days, I read article after article in an attempt to uncover a nugget of truth, a flickering understanding, a sense of hope. Other days, I avoid the news like the plague because I can’t handle one more second of it.
And I struggle. I wrestle hard with my political opinions, wavering back and forth between them, often never able to land on solid footing. I am a woman, and I am also a mom. I am wife to a man whose career relies heavily on government funding, and I am the daughter of a small business owner. I have lived in Florida and in Michigan. I have travelled to France and to Malawi. I both attended and taught in public schools, but I’m not sure how I will educate my own children. I am up to my eyeballs in student loan debt. I am a Jesus follower. And this strange conglomeration of roles seems to have resulted in beliefs that run the gamut from left to right and every spot in-between.
I think about our little family and my boys’ futures. I think about my community and the ones nearby. I wonder if it’s best to vote based on ideals or practicality. I think about Jesus and what he seemed to value, and I certainly can’t deny that much of it doesn’t seem very practical at all. And yet, if we’re to actually build his kingdom in the here-and-now, we’ve got to work within the system, right?
Do you want to know the truth? I just don’t know what’s best. And I’m tired of how everyone else in the world seems 110% certain that their way is best and everyone else is not just mistaken, but perhaps wrong at the deepest heart and soul levels.
I was reminded as I prayed this morning that the two most repeated phrases in the Bible are “Fear not…” and “Remember…”
So, I will remember what I love about our country. I will remember that the world is a big, diverse, complicated place. I will remember where I’ve come from and where I hope to go. I will remember that behind every candidate and every voter is a person and a story. I will remember what gives me hope. I will remember that this does, indeed, matter. I will remember that for every privilege I have, there is someone in the world or even on my street without it.
I will not fear a losing vote. I will not fear legislation or the lack thereof. I will not fear hard decisions, complicated issues, or a missing answer. I will not fear those with difference faces, different languages, different parties, different lives.
I will remember that I place my hope and trust in Jesus, who has overcome the world, so I will vote without fear.