I have two, passionate, all-or-nothing children. There is no middle ground for them…in anything! They are having fun, or they are miserable. They love rosemary ham, or the LOATH rosemary ham. Paw Patrol is the best show ever or it is a “dumb baby show”. And when it comes to each other, they are either hugs and kisses and “I love you, Sissy”, or it’s screaming at one another with fists flailing. Fighting over who gets to hold the hose while it fills the swimming pool or who gets to choose what song to listen to in the car. I marvel at the things they can think of to fight about and send my poor mom a telepathic “I’m so sorry” every time, because I’m certain that me and my siblings were exactly the same. So when we come to the end of the day, and they are suddenly giggling and playing grandly in the backyard together, or snuggling and tickling on the couch, I am awed that these are my same children who appeared feral and rabid just an hour earlier. That this is, in its purest form, the essence of relationships throughout all of humanity.
I have discovered something rather fascinating in the past year. I have found that when I love someone enough, or have the kind of relationship with someone that has longevity and respect built into it, I can easily find a way to disagree with them and still let the sun set on our different opinions. Even the topics that I am most passionate about. And let’s face it, we are all passionate about something. You might not be the kind of person who gets fired up about objectivity of the female body, but you might have very strong opinions about homeschooling. Or you might be happily clueless about global economics, but local homelessness gets you fired up and angry. It is marvelously beautiful that we all care deeply about something, and I wonder with awe at the myriad of ways that we can care about the same topic and have a completely different outlook that the next person. However, this very aspect of personal differences that I objectively appreciate and am thankful for is something I recently discovered I am completely backwards in. I was driving and thinking (as we do) about the obscene challenges that our country faces politically, spiritually, psychologically, economically, etc…(did I name all of the “ally’s?) and I thought the actual thought “why can’t everyone just realize how dumb they are so we can move forward?” Who I meant by “everybody” were all the people who don’t think like me, and I thought that while assuming my perspective is the one that would actually move us forward as a nation. Ohhhh my. Friends, can we say conceited? I can and I will. I will own it, because the only way to move out of this kind of insular thinking is confession. I confess that I have been harboring this mentality for a long time without even realizing it. And it’s so absolutely wrong.
There are two major problems with this mindset that I fell into. The first problem is that I have been assuming without really realizing it, that I preach and fight for a country that accepts and supports all beliefs (so long as they do not harm another human being) and yet I want a country that thinks and believes like I do. I do! I want that because I think it would be easier and less messy. Because I assume that because my heart is pure and good that my way is the right way, so we should all agree with equally pure hearts so then we can have the kind of America and world that I believe in. But in reality, I don’t want that. None of us want that. What we lose when we all simply agree is much greater than what we gain. And isn’t that what democracy is? It’s not clean, and it’s not easy. It doesn’t make everyone happy all the time or ensure that progress will be quick. But democracy done properly is inclusive. It progresses us forward even if we take strides back at times, because it includes a gorgeous mosaic of hearts and ideologies. It doesn’t represent a singular demographic, and thank goodness. If we had things my way I most certainly would bankrupt us, because my giant bleeding heart wants life to be a giant free for all where everyone has everything they need. And this takes me to the second place that I royally miss the point when I want everyone to think like I do.
I am not life’s expert. I’m well-educated and decently experienced, but I lack substantial amounts of knowledge in a lot of categories. To go forward with the thought that someone with about my age, religion, education, socioeconomic status, gender, sex, race, and religion has it “right” for America is absolute lunacy. And that has nothing to do with me. Your idea of “right” is missing the mark in some way too. And the reason for that is simple: I don’t know what every person in this country needs to thrive. I also have the tendency to do what makes people happy, including myself, and that is not the same as providing people with what they need. A land whose laws are made based on what individuals want is destined for ruin. So, there it is, folks. Do not make me your next president. I would destroy this country with my sentimentality and optimism. But make no mistake…you need me. And I need you. What it all boils down to is that we need each other. And we desperately need God. What my prayer should have been that day I was frustrated over the multiple calamities in our nation is “Lord, help me to find Your heart and my place in this mess”.
Tonight my crazy children decided they were besties. They took a bath together instead of one having a bath and the other having a shower, and they washed one another’s hair and scrubbed each other’s backs to the point of giggles and silliness. Amid my laughter, my heart was moved. I thought of the disciples, this inconsistent rag tag team of men that for one reason or another followed Jesus. They didn’t agree on a lot of things, except for what truly mattered: who they were following. You and I are breathed from the same breath. The Spirit that moved Mary to wash Jesus’ feet with her hair is the same that reconciles spouses after one has been betrayed. It is the same Spirit that allows the mother of a deceased son to look into the eyes of the driver who caused his death and whisper “I forgive you”. And that same Spirit worked in my daughter’s heart this afternoon when she went to her crying, tantruming toddler brother and placed her arm around his shoulder, trying to console him in her sweetest big sister voice.
Call me crazy, call me an optimist, call me whatever silly, petty name you want, but I believe that most of us out there are good. Not because of who we are, but because we were made from good to do good. At the end of the day, I want to be able to disagree with you loudly about abortion and healthcare and evolution and gun control and then wrap my arms around you because we belong to one another. I want to tell you that I believe in the goodness in your heart and the purity of your intentions and that I believe in you. That I want you on my team. Because together we are stronger and braver and more complete than we ever could be apart. Division has never been God’s plan and it never will be. Not among His own. At the end of the day if we follow the same God then I don’t care where you go to church, how you like your eggs, or if you keep a gun under your bed. At the end of the day I will wash your feet, with an image in my head of my two babies scrubbing each other’s bronzed, end-of-summer shoulders. I will choose love- a love that covers all of our differences and speaks to a story and a purpose that we all believe in.