Unaddressed: Letters and Invitations

Dear World ~ We are a brilliantly diverse, endlessly fascinating population of people. Such unique ethnicities, languages and cultures… yet… one big global family, made in God’s image, meant to love and be loved. So where is the love? I fear we’re on the brink of a worldwide shortage. And I doubt there’s a single soul on this planet that couldn’t use some TLC right now. Let’s be gentle with each other… and give a little grace, shall we?

Dear America ~ You need to get your head on straight. Where’s the common decency? What happened to “we hold these truths to be self-evident… that all men are created equal.” We never even got there. And now it seems we’re slipping back. When did we lose sight of “liberty and justice… for all?” We have to do better. Which means, we have to be better. (God help us.) Only then will liberty, equity, security and justice prevail. In the words of Frederick Douglass, “The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful and virtuous.” Oh how far we’ve strayed…

Dear Church ~ When the Gospel becomes secondary, we’re undone. Let’s keep the main thing the main thing: Jesus. Not pontificating or politicking or pursuing the American Dream. You know what our nation needs? Hope. Help. Humility. Healing. We need less condescension/conflict/chaos and more Christlikeness: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; he has appointed me to preach Good News to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted and to announce that captives shall be released and the blind shall see, that the downtrodden shall be freed from their oppressors, and that God is ready to give blessings to all who come to him.” Jesus taught us to pray and pull together, help shoulder each others’ burdens, tenderly care for one another – His very body. But we continue to inflict pain with repeated acts of self-harm. Let’s bandage our unsightly/self-inflicted/ superficial cuts and get on with tending the critically wounded around us. (In case you haven’t noticed, we’re in the middle of a bloody battlefield.)

Dear BIPOC/Neighbors ~ I don’t even know what to say. Except… I’m sorry. I see your anguish and your anger. I hear your pleas and protests and prayers. But I admit I haven’t given you my full attention before now. I’m sorry my prejudgments and prejudices have hurt you. (In ways I’m becoming aware of… and ways I know I’m still blind to.) I’m learning that oppression comes in many shapes and sizes: profiling, poverty, limited access and opportunity, inadequate housing/healthcare/ education… I’m sorry I didn’t notice sooner, listen better, learn more, or love you enough to work harder – alongside you – to pursue God’s good and pleasing and perfect will: equity and justice.

Dear White Neighbors ~ I see you (many of you) trying. Trying to learn, understand, engage. Bless you. (I mean that. Because some folks don’t even bother.) But let’s be honest for a sec. We don’t get it. All this researching and reading and reflecting can’t duplicate experience. So let’s acknowledge that. (And by all means, keep researching, reading and reflecting.) If we really want to be allies of BIPOC, we need to shut up… and listen. Show up… and serve. Serve those who’ve been underserved for too long. Be willing to become uncomfortable… to make others more so. Start making room (in our boardrooms, family rooms and hearts) so everyone gets a fair shot. Let’s ensure that this land of ours becomes a land of liberty, peace and prosperity, not just for some or most… but all.

Dear Law Enforcement Officers ~ I’m sorry you’re suffering because of the horrific sins of a few (who happen to wear the same uniform). You already do a thankless job: upholding and enforcing the law in our communities (and yes, policing within your ranks). And now you’re being vilified for it. Enduring scorn and spite, suffering insults and assaults… just for going to work. I know nothing I say will make that easier to bear. I don’t have any magic words, other than these two: I care. Thank you for working to protect American lives… regardless of race/religion/ political affiliation/sexual orientation/immigration status/socioeconomic class. Please stay on the job.

Dear Jordan ~ So many times during your growing-up years I meant well, but didn’t do very well. Because honestly, I didn’t know where to begin. I saw the prejudgments and prejudice, witnessed bias and bigotry… but I didn’t allow my horror and heartache to be used for good by God, to spur action. Thank you for your unspoken forgiveness and forbearance. What a gift. My desperate hope is that you/I/our family will be conduits for healing, grace and peace in our community and world. I love you all the way up to heaven and back a million zillion times, J… and I’m praying for you always.

Dear Jesus ~ Forgive me. I so often do what I don’t want to do… and don’t do what I ought. You (always) love (everybody) perfectly. And I fall dreadfully short. With your life and death, you taught that loving means sharing, serving, sacrifice. For the needy and neglected, the marginalized and mistreated. You crossed cultural and racial and gender gaps. again and again, to personally deliver that love. Help me follow your lead. I don’t want to just believe; I want to do what you said. Because I know…

Faith without works is dead.

(And damaging too.)

Too often I’ve talked the talk… but not walked the walk. I’ve sat on the sidelines, out of faithlessness or fear. I’ve chosen my own personal comfort over compassion for others. I’ve made excuses, rather than sacrifices.

Forgive me… and give me a fresh start.

Yours (truly),

Wendy

P.S. Friends, if you want to do a little good but aren’t sure where to start… pray.

I used to pray that God would feed the hungry, or do this or that, but now I pray that he will guide me to do whatever I’m supposed to do, what I can do… I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us and we change things. (Mother Teresa)

Let’s get on our knees… and then roll up our sleeves.

Christians & COVID: Politicizing, Theorizing (& Apologizing)

The only maladies more contagious than COVID right now are the rapidly-mutating accusations and politically-charged conspiracy theories surrounding it.

Wow.

And yikes.

I haven’t heard them all yet… but I’ve heard a smattering. And a whole lot of them are coming from Christians. (Disclaimer: I realize that some people who’d identify themselves as such don’t know a whole lot about what Jesus said, did or taught.)

Frankly, I just don’t get it.

Because what does polarizing/politicizing/promoting conspiracy theories – in a pandemic (or ever) – actually accomplish? Especially in regards to what Christ told us to do?

Jesus made it pretty clear that we’ve got two essential tasks before us:

Love God with everything we’ve got.

And love people. Strangers, friends and foes alike.

^ I’m not exactly sure how speculating and insinuating and implicating fit into that.

If we really want people to be drawn to Jesus (and all His goodness/grace/mercy), then we – the people who follow Him – ought to (at least try to) be good and gracious and merciful ourselves. If Christians aren’t the kind of people others are drawn to, then it would seem we’re not doing our job. (Love draws people in and makes them feel heard… seen… safe… special. Not scolded/slandered/dismissed/detested.)

News flash: We’re supposed to point people to Jesus by looking – and living – like He did.

There’s a surprising number of people who know something’s broken/wrong/ missing/stuck in their lives. And they’re just waiting for someone to introduce them to the One who can fix/forgive/fill/free them.

I’ve said this before (probably during the last election cycle) but I think it bears repeating:

My dear brothers and sisters, if we want to win some, we need to be…

Winsome.

Based on what I see on social media lately, I’d say we’re falling embarrassingly short.

I’ve seen some pretty insensitive/offensive/capricious remarks in response to people with differing views on COVID and the issues surrounding it. That over-the-top defensiveness smacks of pride… or paranoia. And it hurts my heart.

And really, what good does it do? The odds of convincing someone with an opposing view – on a platform like Twitter or Facebook – are next to nil.

Maybe these folks can’t find anything better to do.

Or maybe (after two months in lockdown) they’re starting to lose it.

(Coronanervousbreakdown?)

Ranting and raving rarely convince anyone of anything… except that the person doing it is out in left field (or right, as the case may be.) Explain how being argumentative – or spittin’ mad – is going to invite others to love and follow Jesus?

Can we all just take a deep breath… and a step back… and remind ourselves:

The enemy is… the enemy.

Not people created in God’s image and loved like crazy by Him. (Regardless of political perspective, party affiliation, personal preferences or past mistakes.)

We Christians need to pull it together (and pull together). We need to ask the Holy Spirit to empty us of ourselves and fill us full of His love. We need to listen and pray, give and forgive, serve and bless.

when the Holy Spirit controls our lives he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. ~ Galatians 5:22-23

Peace… not pot-stirring.

Patience… not pushback.

Kindness… not contempt.

Gentleness… not hostility.

Self-control… not volatility.

A friend of mine recently shared this quote from Oswald Chambers, and it struck a chord:

The things we are going through are either making us sweeter, better, nobler men and women; or they are making us more captious and fault-finding, more insistent upon our own way. The things that happen either make us fiends, or they make us saints; it depends entirely upon the relationship we are in to God. If we say — “Thy will be done,” we get the consolation of John 17, the consolation of knowing that our Father is working according to His own wisdom. When we understand what God is after we will not get mean and cynical. Jesus has prayed nothing less for us than absolute oneness with Himself as He was one with the Father. Some of us are far off it, and yet God will not leave us alone until we are one with Him, because Jesus has prayed that we may be. 

The response to this pandemic has elicited all kinds of politically-charged accusations and public shaming. I’m not denying there’s lots of lousy reporting, misinformation and not-so-hidden agendas – money and power come to mind – in both political parties and every media outlet around. But why this startling impulse (of some individuals) to push conspiracy theories and wild speculation and gloom-and-doom prognostication? 

None of it is helping. It’s not healing a single sick patient or helping a weary front-line worker or feeding a hungry family or lifting anyone out of despair.

So let me be the first to apologize.

To our doctors and nurses and pharmacists and first-responders.

To our grocery store workers and truck drivers and delivery people.

To our researchers and scientists and statisticians.

To my neighbors, friends and fellow citizens whose newsfeed looks uglier by the day.

And to those who have lost loved ones… or their livelihood.

I’m sorry.

Please don’t reject Jesus because of those who claim to follow Him including…

Yours Truly,

Wendy

P.S. I know I’ll probably get some grief for this post… and that’s okay. I may hear some explanations/generalizations/justifications like: “I want the truth! I’m just trying to educate people! Jesus spoke truth!”

Yes He did. (He IS truth.) But when Jesus spoke truth, it was thoroughly wrapped in humility and grace. He wasn’t presumptuous or pushy. Ever.

In fact, the only times He got really riled?

He was calling out…

Religious hypocrites.

*******

Father, forgive us.

 

Pacifists and Warmongers

The nations rage. Kingdoms totter. 

Sounds pretty accurate.

An engulfing fire. An erupting war. A trembling world. It’s like we’ve been holding our collective breath for days…

I feel faint.

And the background noise is deafening.

Moments like these beg for discernment, restraint, prayer.

Instead, provocation and contempt threaten to overthrow us. (If our socio-political divide grows any wider, we’ll likely do ourselves in. Our enemies need not exert any effort at all.)

I went to journalism school… and I can’t stomach the evening news. But I can’t bear not knowing what in the world is going on either. I find myself taking little sips of headlines and big gulps of scripture. (Which is where I read the line about nations raging and kingdoms tottering. Prophetic, don’t you think?)

Peace on earth ought to be the prayer on every tongue and the hope in every heart. (“Love your neighbor” leaves no room for the bloodthirsty as far as I can tell.)

But here’s what I don’t understand.

The pacifists.

Don’t get me wrong. With every fiber of my being, I long for peace. I pray for it. That peace would prevail on earth… as in heaven.

(Pretty sure that’s what God wants… His Hebrew name literally means Prince of Peace.)

But in case you haven’t noticed… this ain’t heaven. And there’s a whole lot of dark and ugly going on around here.

And while I ache for peace and global good will, it seems spotty at best. (Yes, a few bad apples can – and do – spoil the whole bunch. And the wormy, rancid, rotting remains are creating noxious fumes. *Insert poison warning here.)

Sometimes there’s good reason for anger.

Cruelty ought to invoke an outcry.

Atrocities ought to elicit outrage.

Evil ought to evoke opposition.

And while I’d love it if throwing up peace signs and sending good vibes and hashtagging #cooltobekind would solve those vexing problems, the reality is…

Sometimes we’ve got to fight.

Please understand, I’m not saying unequivocally that this is one of those times. I don’t know if it is. I’m not privy to all of the information… and I’m certainly not omniscient. (Nor are you, by the way.)

But I know this:

If no one will take up arms to serve, protect and defend… we leave ourselves vulnerable to any and every power that rises up against us.

And ultimately we will succumb to oppression.

Or annihilation.

(That’s the story where no one lives happily ever after… because no one lives.)

The end.

*******

Then there’s the warmongers.

Not only can I not understand them; I can’t conceive they’re anything other than stark raving mad.

War is horrific.

Those who’ve been there say it’s a living hell.

(You can take their word for it… Or you can Google PTSD and suicide rates among combat veterans. Both provide a pretty clear picture.)

Even for the “right reasons” (combatting genocide, for instance), war is ghastly and sickening and barbaric.

And anyone who thinks otherwise is certifiable.

And dangerous.

(Given my preference I like people who are serene… and sane.)

Our democracy (imperfect as it is) bestows on us vast freedom. Freedom to say and do and be who we want: pacifists… warmongers… or anything in between.

We can disagree about every topic under the sun. (And boy, do we.)

But can we please agree on this:

Common decency.

You know, good old-fashioned respectfulness… bestowed civilly on one and all. The people like us. The ones who aren’t. And the folks who afford us these freedoms…

Our soldiers and sailors, airmen and Marines.

They aren’t the ones starting the wars. They’re the ones trying (desperately) to finish them.

So they can return home.

And so home remains safe… secure… free.

JFK put it this way:

Word to the Nation: Guard zealously your right to serve in the Armed Forces, for without them, there will be no other rights to guard.

Well said, Mr. President.

The brave souls serving in the Middle East and around the world (and those ready to deploy) deserve nothing less than our deepest gratitude and our strongest support.

To those flesh-and-blood heroes, I simply say:

Godspeed.

And I cover them in prayer.

(My youngest son will soon be among them. I’m both proud… and petrified.)

When I was a young girl, I learned a beautiful song in church.

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me. With God as our Father, brothers all are we. Let me walk with my brother in perfect harmony.

If we truly wish for peace, we’d all do well to start there.

Blessed are the peacemakers…

And the peacekeepers.

Praying for their protection… and peace on earth.

Join me?

Wendy

P.S. For what avail the plough or sail, or land, or life, if freedom fail? ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Intersection of Politics & Religion

The way I see it, there’s a four-way stop at the intersection of politics and religion.

In order to move forward, everybody in every lane needs to come to a full and complete stop, look both left and right (double-check those blind spots) and proceed with caution…

Otherwise there’s bound to be a horrific crash.

(With casualties.)

Don’t get me wrong… I’m not saying the two shouldn’t intersect. I’m simply saying we should be cautious. I cherish the far-reaching rights our democracy has afforded us, including freedom of speech. We are a country of ideals and ideas. (And yes, a handful of idiots too. < Let’s just try to ignore them.) You have the freedom to believe what you like and speak your mind about it, anytime, anywhere. And so do I. And that’s a good thing.

But we need to be careful or we’re going to lose the graces of mutual respect and collective strength in all of our clamoring to be heard and heeded.

Once upon a time, common courtesy was…

Common.

*sigh*

In the heartbreaking aftermath of 9/11, we witnessed something truly extraordinary. The profound comfort and consolation our country found in this one (big) little gift:

Togetherness.

(Remember that?)

Somehow that solace succumbed to an outbreak of sputtering, spewing, ranting and reviling in the public square. Cable news became a round-the-clock purveyor of angry rhetoric, relentless accusations, and irresponsible/inflammatory/biased/bombastic reporting. And the emergence of social media provided a platform for all sorts of strife.

It’s an alarming cultural shift…

And it’s effectively eroding the “United” in our States.

There’s a rising tide of “us” versus “them,” rather than “we the people.” And it’s threatening to flood/drown/destroy America the beautiful… from sea to shining sea.

I know there are some folks that share my faith who struggle to accept those who have rejected it. (And as much as I’d love for everyone I know to experience the amazing grace and peace I’ve found in Jesus, I willingly acknowledge that each one gets to decide for themselves who He is and what they believe.) Many of those same folks can’t fathom how other people who do share their faith can disagree with their positions and politics. Christians on both sides of the political spectrum seem stunned that their brothers and sisters could possibly oppose what they perceive is the “right” way to think and vote.

And that’s when they/we/I tend to get reckless, run a red… and T-bone a big blue Buick.  Underneath all the wreckage, there’s a mangled mass of pride, prejudice and judgment.

Not saying our deeply-held convictions shouldn’t influence our political views. Not at all. I’m simply saying we shouldn’t be trying to manipulate our theology – or worse yet, scripture – to “fit” our political views. (Though some try mightily, manipulating God is not an option… Thankfully, He cannot and will not be crammed or contorted into a manmade container.)

Abraham Lincoln said this during the Civil War, “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”

And I daresay the only way to know what and where God’s side is… is to walk with Him.

Pray. Soak up His word. Follow His example. (If we really want to know WWJD, we can read His authorized biography in the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John.)

In order to align with God’s cause, we’ve got to abide by His Book. We have to search it, study it, ponder it, pray it and (here’s the hard part) live it. The whole of it… not just the “sliver” we select to serve our purpose, promote our cause, advance our agenda.

There’s a notable difference between religion and a relationship with Jesus. One is subject to the whims of mere mortals. The other isn’t.

“Will Christians turn once again toward an approach that imposes its will on the rest of society? By doing so we would betray our founder, who resisted a temptation to authority over “all the kingdoms of the world,” and who died a martyr at the hands of a powerful state. In the words of Miroslav Volf, “Imposition stands starkly at odds with the basic character of the Christian faith, which is at its heart about self-giving—God’s self-giving and human self-giving—and not about self-imposing.” ~ Philip Yancey, Christians and Politics: Uneasy Partners

I think there’s some pretty clear directives in scripture about who’s supposed to do what around here. And I think some people (myself included, more often than I care to admit) think it’s their responsibility to do God’s job. But the older I get, the more I understand that I can’t possibly. (I don’t have enough foresight, strength or smarts. And besides that, I’m sorely lacking in mercy and patience.)

So I’ve decided to let God be Judge…

Jesus be Savior…

His Spirit be the One who corrects and re-directs.

(None of the above is in my job description.)

My mission is simply this:

Love God.

Love people.

(All of them.)

Whether we agree or not.

In middle age, I’m finally learning something I wish I’d learned a long time ago:

How to lovingly disagree.

Loving well doesn’t mean never getting angry. Jesus did… particularly in the face of hypocrisy, injustice and greed. At one point, He got so furious He flipped over tables in the temple and drove out hucksters trying to turn a profit in the name of religion. (Hmm. A handful of media-mogul/mega-church preachers might want to keep this in mind.)

Absolutely, there’s a time to fight for what you believe in.

But I’m convinced that some people want to fight about everything. They don’t choose their battles; they invite – or incite – conflict. (Not sure why. Attention-getting? Anger problem? Power grab?) They’re habitual pot-stirrers/troublemakers/flame-throwers… and that’s not doing anybody (including them) any good.

But here’s the beautiful thing. We don’t have to take the bait.

We can simply ignore the insults/irritation/idiocy and just keep swimming…

Surfing…

Scrolling.

And if we choose to engage in meaningful, constructive conversation – and why bother with anything else? – we need to…

Listen.

Really listen.

And learn the fine art of loving disagreement.

Or we’re going to do ourselves in.

If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. ~ Jesus 

Listen, we don’t have to agree to stick together. We don’t have to share political views to care about one another. We don’t have to see eye-to-eye on every issue to stay united. We don’t even have to like each other… to be respectful and kind.

May we pledge ourselves to remaining…

Indivisible.

May we celebrate both our diversity and our unity.

To those with whom I vehemently disagree, I just want to say this (loud and clear):

I’m happy to be stuck with you!

Wendy

P.S. “In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, love.” ~ St. Augustine

Collateral Damages

How the hell did we get here?

(Actually, I think I just answered my own question. Hell led us here… and we followed.)

Yesterday, pending legislation which would have required medical practitioners to provide care for newborns (who survive an abortion attempt) was voted down.

Sorry, kid. Can’t help you. RIP.

A measure intended to prevent infanticide was blocked by 44 senators who voted against it. (I won’t list them here, but feel free to look them up, call them up and vote them out.)

Here is H.R. 4712 (the bill also known as the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act):

This bill amends the federal criminal code to require any health care practitioner who is present when a child is born alive following an abortion or attempted abortion to: (1) exercise the same degree of care as reasonably provided to any other child born alive at the same gestational age, and (2) ensure that such child is immediately admitted to a hospital. The term “born alive” means the complete expulsion or extraction from his or her mother, at any stage of development, who after such expulsion or extraction breathes or has a beating heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles, regardless of whether the umbilical cord has been cut. Also, a health care practitioner or other employee who has knowledge of a failure to comply with these requirements must immediately report such failure to an appropriate law enforcement agency. An individual who violates the provisions of this bill is subject to a criminal fine, up to five years in prison, or both. An individual who commits an overt act that kills a child born alive is subject to criminal prosecution for murder. The bill bars the criminal prosecution of a mother of a child born alive for conspiracy to violate these provisions, for being an accessory after the fact, or for concealment of felony. A woman who undergoes an abortion or attempted abortion may file a civil action for damages against an individual who violates this bill.

So… exactly what part of this is objectionable?

I welcome real reasons, thoughtful comments and legitimate objections. I truly do. (Thus the “comments” section upper left.)

But I recoil when I hear the tirades claiming this measure is an overt attempt to violate reproductive rights or privacy/protection/personal choices related to women’s healthcare. This has little or nothing to do with women’s rights or their bodies… because the person in question (the survivor) is living outside and apart from said woman.

This is not a conservative or liberal issue, people. This is an ethics issue.

We have anti-cruelty laws in place to protect voles, for heaven’s sake. (Rodents.)

Oh wait, I forgot… the loophole is (in the words of the governor of Virginia) an assurance that “the infant would be kept comfortable…”

While they (mother and doctor) decide whether or not (s)he should be left to die.

What have we become?

I’m no doctor, obviously. But 35 years ago, I began a rigorous pre-med program at Northwestern (which I later abandoned due to said rigor and an ongoing love affair with words). At the time, I planned to become a pediatrician but based on the later discovery of my revulsion at the sight of bodily fluids – blood, mucus, stomach contents, etc – I think I made the right choice. (Paper and pencils have never once triggered my gag reflex.) At some point in my studies, I stumbled across the Hippocratic Oath, part of which reads:

Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death.

Tread carefully indeed. A sobering reminder…

Above all, I must not play at God.

(Mic drop.)

Once upon a time, every physician took this solemn oath, swearing to uphold it for every patient, in every circumstance.

More and more med schools are abandoning that practice too. It’s outdated, they argue.

Apparently so.

Nelson Mandela once said, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” 

Lord, have mercy on our soul.

He knew we’d end up here.

You are headed for trouble! You say wrong is right, darkness is light, and bitter is sweet. You think you are clever and smart. And you are great at drinking and mixing drinks. But you are in for trouble. ~ Isaiah 5:20-22 (CEV)

This is what happens when we make ourselves gods and goddesses. We worship the self, drink to our shrewdness, celebrate our selfishness/satiation/sin. And in so doing, we make the whole world darker and more destitute.

“It’s the greatest poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.”  – Mother Teresa

Yes, it is.

The littlest ones have become the collateral damage in our pursuit of happiness. Apparently now, it’s the newborns who survive a botched abortion and must suffer the consequences of their parents’ “choices.” Especially those babies deemed “defective.”

In his book The Disappearance of Childhood, Neil Postman wrote, Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.” 

So, what messages are we sending, exactly? (With the ones we allow to live, I mean.)

It’s a haunting question.

One that kept me up last night.

One that ought to keep us (praying types) on our knees. And compel everyone who cares about human rights to vote accordingly. Because we’re on a very, very slippery slope.

In this country. In the world. In history.

Even so, God is good.

Even when a child dies at the hands of a doctor… by the choice of his/her own mother… His love cannot be terminated.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” ~ Matthew 19:14 (NIV)

Whether welcomed into the world or ripped from it, every child is wrapped in love.

Because… little ones to Him belong.

And heaven belongs to them.

Wendy

P.S. A brilliant author and illustrator once wrote: “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” (I couldn’t agree more, Dr. Seuss.)

 

 

 

 

Private Investigations in the Public Eye

Every morning, Twitter asks me what’s happening.

Our “United States” seem to be falling apart, that’s what.

(And a whole lot of Americans are at risk of being buried beneath the rubble.)

The past few weeks have served up an acrid mix of leaks, low blows, accusations and interrogations. With a heaping side of voyeurism and vitriol.

The folks in charge seem to be very busy playing their fame/shame/blame games. Preening, posing and pontificating. Politicizing… and demonizing. Ad nauseum.

(Anyone else feeling sick?)

As I observed bits and pieces of the congressional proceedings last week, I drew several obvious conclusions which I’ve listed in no particular order. I hope we can agree on this:

Sexual assault is heinous… and rampant. 

Binge drinking is an open invitation to disaster. (And frequently leads to despair… or rehab.)

People who leak private information suck.

Media – right, left or so-called-centrist – is making very little effort at producing unbiased, non-sensationalist news. (I hold a journalism degree, and this isn’t what we were taught. Not even close.)

Americans are gluttons for sordid details, dirty laundry, and sexploitation.

Accusations can do nearly as much damage as physical violence.

D.C. seems more like a circus these days than a capital.

Again and again, I’ve heard the same refrain with regard to allegations against the Supreme Court nominee:

It’s a “he-said, she-said” dispute. One of them is lying.

Perhaps.

Or maybe they both are, to some degree. We humans have a tendency to do that: deflect or mislead, hedge or hide, stretch or distort the truth, especially when we have a lot to gain… or lose. (I know I’m guilty.)

But there’s another (arguably remote) possibility here too. What if they are both telling the truth as they remember it? What if the disparity is entirely due to wildly divergent recollections of the events of 1982? (If someone asked me to reconstruct the summer of ’82, I can assure you I’d have a slew of gaps, gaffes and glaring oversights myself. Heck, I can’t even remember what I wore yesterday. I’ll have to check the laundry hamper.)

Memory isn’t always infallible. And perception isn’t always truth. But it is relevant… and real. Especially to the one who holds it.

I’m not an eyewitness, private investigator or forensic scientist in this matter. So I clearly can’t access and analyze all the pertinent information and evidence. (Though I hope the FBI does.) I’m not a prosecutor or public defender, so I need not argue on behalf of the accuser or the accused. (Why do people feel compelled to do that… like it’s their job?) I’m not a judge or jury member either, so my personal opinions have no bearing whatsoever on the outcome of these proceedings. (In fact there’s no judge or jury at all because this isn’t a trial… although I’m sure it feels like one to both the accused and the accuser.)

There was no verdict after Thursday’s hearing. But plenty of people passed judgment:

“The nominee is a drunk/mocker/predator.”

Or…

“The accuser is a liar/lackey/loon.”

You know what I think? I think every single person who says (s)he has been a victim of sexual violence ought to be heard. Allegations of sexual assault have to be taken very, very seriously and investigated thoroughly. Every. Single. Time.

And I think every person who believes (s)he has been falsely accused ought to be able to defend her/himself rigorously. Without exception.

Because everyone – every single soul in this embattled, beautiful country of ours – has a story, a voice, and a right to speak freely.

(But beware the backlash. It can be brutal… and cost plenty.)

Ultimately, the Supreme Court will get a justice (either this one or another). Some people will gloat because they got what they wanted. Others will grouse because they didn’t. And life… and politics… will go on.

What do I want?

Well, here’s what I don’t want. I don’t want politics to be the center of my life. I don’t want my political views or someone else’s to dictate who can and cannot be my friend. And I certainly don’t want politicans to do my thinking for me. No, thank you.

I want the truth.

“You can’t handle the truth.” 

You may be right, Jack. But it’s still what I want. It’s what we should all want.

More importantly, it’s what God wants.

For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all. (Luke 8:17, NLT)

And I want justice.

Like Father, like daughter:

For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice; the upright will see his face. (Psalm 11:7, NIV)

Praying for truth, justice and a better (rather than bitter) American way.

Join me?

Wendy

P.S. If anyone in Washington is wondering what to do, here’s a hint:

The Lord has shown you what is good. He has told you what he requires of you. You must act with justice. You must love to show mercy. And you must be humble as you live in the sight of your God. (Micah 6:8, NIRV)

Special acknowledgment: Accompanying artwork is courtesy of our artist-in-residence, Chloe Louise. (She has quite an eye for detail, don’t you think?  😉

 

Fill-in-the-Blank Test

My dear reader,
All this time I have kept quiet. If you know me, that’s quite a feat. But I haven’t taken the bait. Any of it. (And believe me, there’s been plenty. Big, fat, squirmy worms and tempting soundbites dangling daily in the cesspool of modern media.) And up until this point, I’ve chosen not to bite. I’ve been Nike’s antihero:
Just Don’t. Do. It.
But there’s an elephant in the room. And his name is Donald. And I have to speak up; otherwise I might step in a steaming pile of pachyderm crap… or be crushed. (There’s also a stubborn mule in here. I’ll get to her later.)
I have watched coverage and considered viewpoints and read posts. Pondered, puzzled, prayed. Typed – red-faced – then deleted, more than a few times. And after months of refraining and restraining, biting my tongue and tempering my responses, I am breaking my self-imposed silence and venturing where I never intended to go. Out from my safe zone of Swiss-modeled neutrality into the raging political firestorm. (Whew… It’s HOT in here.)
Why now? Why not sooner? Frankly, I just didn’t want to go there. So many others were spatting and spitting and spewing. And I didn’t want to be one of them. I wanted to quietly and conscientiously consider my options, cast my ballot, and… well… hold my breath. But after the latest bombshell, I ducked and covered, then quickly came to the realization that… I have a vote and a voice. And there are times, like now, when perhaps I should use that voice. Maybe somebody like me needs to speak up.
To point out some glaring flaws in these people (not to mention this process).
To cry out against all that is unsavory, ungodly, and untoward. And…
To reach out to rational, reasonable, respectful fellow citizens on both sides of the aisle (and to those in the balcony seats too) and appeal to them.
To you.
First, you should know that I have friends who are voting for all four of the “party” candidates, and I respect and cherish every last one of them. My friends. Not the candidates. (On a side note: the political process does not sound, look, or feel at all like a party to me. Parties are supposed to be festive. And fun. And blissfully free of bullies, blowhards, and buzzkills. But that’s just my two cents.)
I have friends who are voting for Hillary. If elected, she’ll become the first female president of the United States (and I must say, a woman commandeering the Oval Office would be pretty. freaking. cool). Yes, she’s tested and tough. Experienced, educated, articulate. (And bonus points: she actually attempts to answer the questions posed during debates.) But her track record has been cagey, careless, and in at least a couple of cases, unconscionable. I believe she lacks forthrightness and uprightness… aka honesty and integrity. (Just for the record, my news sources are not Breitbart or Bill O. My journalism degree compels me to go straight to the AP for fact-checking and/or debunking.) But even if Hillary did possess those deeply desirable and exceedingly rare qualities, she still wouldn’t earn my vote. And here’s why. Because I feel an obligation to vote not only for myself, but for every single child in America who cannot yet vote. My daughter. My nephews. My godchildren. The trio of preschoolers who live across the street. The precious newborn baby of our dear friends. I want my vote to count for them. To make a difference for them. To protect them. Especially the little ones who are the most vulnerable. The hungry, the homeless, the helpless. The disabled and disadvantaged. The unprotected, neglected, and abused. I want my vote to matter for those children.
And the unborn ones.
(Wait. Before you stop reading and dismiss/disparage/delete me entirely and scroll/scan/click something else, please hear me out.)
See, every single adult in our nation gets to make their personal political preferences known with their vote. What issues are most critical to you? Likely, those will dictate your vote. You want to see our next president push for economic growth or pull back our troops? Re-prioritize or preserve the make-up of the Supreme Court? Tighten gun laws or protect 2nd amendment rights? Retain or repeal Obamacare? Broaden renewable energy initiatives? Build a pipeline or build a wall? Privatize social security or legalize marijuana? Guess what? You get a say, because you have a vote. “We the people” (registered voters, ages 18 and up) get to choose the next Mr. President… or Ms.
But the children? They don’t get a vote. They just trust… us. Their parents and grandparents, neighbors, teachers, coaches, youth leaders and lifeguards, pediatricians and piano instructors and playground supervisors. It’s our job as “the grownups” to vote with them in mind.
And then there are the littlest ones… the precious premies. And the pre-born. In-utero or “evacuated,” it’s not simply tissue or an embryonic blob.  It’s a human being. Tiny, tender, but truly an individual. With his or her own distinct DNA. Made in God’s image.  And growing and learning, even very early on. Who are their advocates? We are… or ought to be. Every single one of us. Let’s do right by them, for heaven’s sake. They are voiceless and utterly defenseless, and easy access to “safe, legal abortion” is obliterating so many. I cannot just turn a blind eye to their plight. You may not agree with me on this. And I know there are vehement arguments about personal freedom and victims’ rights (which I hope and pray I would never, ever dismiss) and anatomy/physiology that impact people’s passionate positions on this legal/moral/political issue. Please hear me loud and clear: I respect you, your body, and your rights. But along with the embarassment of riches we enjoy in this nation (as beneficiaries of so many rights and freedoms) comes responsibility. Social responsibility… and yes, sexual responsibility.
I could go on and on about gestational development and abortion alternatives and tell you beautiful stories of birth moms who selflessly (and heroically) chose adoptive families for their children. I could also share heartbreaking details from friends who chose to terminate their pregnancies and suffer lingering regrets… or, in some cases, mental health crises in the aftermath. But I doubt they would influence your position. Or change your vote. I’m simply trying to avoid any misunderstanding about mine.
I have friends who intend to vote for Trump.  I don’t judge them either. I believe that they believe in what they are doing and why. That they are voting in accord with deeply-held convictions. That they are pursuing what they ought: ensuring that the Constitution is carefully guarded by the Supreme Court for decades to come and defending the right to life for those who haven’t yet arrived at their Birth Day. I acknowledge and respect their mission; I just can’t embrace their man.
Whether he has promised to protect religious liberties or grow the economy or nominate strict constructionists to our highest court is moot. He simply doesn’t represent the values that I hold most dear. And, sadly, he has yet to consistently demonstrate many of the things most of us learned in kindergarten: be kind, play fair, no name-calling or interrupting or insults. (Oh, and one more key kindergarten lesson: keep your hands to yourself.)
I have friends (and probably a kid or two) who are voting for the Johnson-Weld ticket. And while they both seem sane and their policy positions relatively straightforward, they won’t win my vote. It’s not the embarrassing “Aleppo moment” or the cannabis crusade that cost it. Again, it’s that pesky pro-life perspective that I can’t – won’t – shake. (BTW, I’m pro-every-life. Black. White. And every beautiful skin tone between. Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, atheist. PHDs and high school dropouts. Single, married, widowed… and “consciously uncoupled.” Incapacitated. Incarcerated. Law enforcers and tax preparers and street performers. Vegans and pescatarians and carnivores. Activists and optimists and pessimists and pacifists. Rich and poor. Old… and very, very, very young.) Sorry, Gary. You seem like a pretty nice guy, but I’m out.
Ditto with Jill Stein. Can’t back her pro-choice platform. And, in all honesty, I’m not sure I actually do know anyone who’s voting for her. (Will my Jill Stein-supporting friends please speak up? Hellooooo? Anyone out there? Buehler… Buehler?)
I’m a devoted fan of Jane Austen. But frankly, I’m growing weary of pride and prejudice (my own and others’) and political upchuck. In this election, I’m desperately seeking sense and sensibilities… and a little serenity. I want to vote my conscience, uphold my convictions, use my critical thinking skills… and let God sort it all out. I’d like to think that He would usher into the Oval Office a president who (at least somewhat) reflected the qualities of His own Son. But let’s not forget that His Son wasn’t appointed or elected or crowned. He was crucified. They – we – killed Him: the One who possessed the most sought-after qualities of any candidate. Ever.
Jesus was not afraid to speak the no-holds-barred, bold truth.
Not afraid to call out the religious hypocrites and welcome in the folks on the fringes.
Never flip-flopping or flinching. Never floundering or failing.
Willing to reach out and pour out. Willing to befriend, feed, help, and heal. Willing to protect and provide for all. Including the sick, the poor, the hungry, the hurting. Without regard to where they came from or what they looked like or how they identified. Because once they got to know Him and soak up His love and mercy… they found their identity. As His.  (Yes, I know that caring for the orphans and widows and helpless and hopeless is the Church’s job, ultimately. And we’d better get after it, all hands on deck. ‘Cause there’s plenty to do. But it’s also our job to engage politically. Shouldn’t our votes match our mission?)
As of today, here’s my Official Polling Place Plan. (Between now and November 8, I will continue to pray for wisdom. And if God redirects, I’ll let you know.)
I’m not going to check any of the boxes.                  
Instead, I’m going to fill in the blank.  Yes, you read that right. I’m going to WRITE IN the name of my candidate.
The governor from my neighboring state who admirably, and in my opinion heroically, chose not to “go low.” He remained steadfastly above the fray, diligently doing the job and conveying his message and mission. Intentionally avoiding the mud-slinging and slime and slander. Strong track record and clear, constructive policies. Good ideas and good sense. Good man. He got my vote in the primary… and he’ll get it again. My very first write-in candidate.
I was dreading… dreading… the upcoming election. And as soon as I came to this decision, I felt relief.
Peace.  
That is why I won’t choose “the lesser of two evils.” Because I refuse to vote for evil. Flawed, I can accept. We all are. But evil? I’ll pass, thank you very much.
I won’t fill in the bubble or punch the “chad” or check the box of a candidate who won’t lead me/us/the children well. Honestly, humbly, justly. When there’s no clear, good choice, I’ll skip the multiple-choice test… and opt for the fill-in-the-blank.
That’s why our democratic system proffers a line on the ballot to write in a candidate’s name. It’s for times like this. When the “party” names don’t reflect who we are or what we believe or where we hope to go. What if we all voted our conscience, rather than following convention… or affiliation… or pre-affixed labels. What if we all opted out… and wrote in? If we stick together, we just might make an impact. Or, at least, a statement. Let’s stand for something, rather than falling for something. Shall we?
As for me, I will exit the voter’s booth with my conscience clear and my dignity intact. But more importantly, I will exit with the knowledge that one day, I will stand before God. And His opinion is the only one that really matters.
Respectfully,
Wendy
P.S.  More bombshells to come, I’m sure. So by all means, take cover. But don’t cower and whimper and whine. And please, please, please don’t stay home on November 8. Or shoot back. (Remember what Honest Abe said? “The ballot is stronger than the bullet.”)
Pray boldly.
Vote bravely.
Think outside the box.
Fill in the blank.
And let freedom ring.
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