I have a friend who calls me in the odd hours of the morning when he cannot sleep. We got into a conversation one evening downtown when I overheard him telling a group of people that he was the smartest man in the room. “And the most humble,” I interjected. He is successful in his field, but could use some, well, grounding. I have since become something of a sounding board for when he is restless and needs someone to spar with.
Most recently, when my phone rang at 2:00AM, I was tempted not to answer. But I did.
“I need to know what you think about the election,” he said. “I’m conflicted, and I don’t know who to vote for, and I have trouble believing that the world is not about to end.”
I interrupted him mid-teardown of the Electoral College.
“I don’t really know if I’m who you want to talk to about this one,” I said.
I am no expert on politics, I explained. I am no expert on anything, if I am being truthful, except perhaps on how my own heart works, and how my heart is connected to God. Those are the two things I use as my compass on most things. Some things are easy, and do not require a consultation of the heart, like if I want a burrito, or if I should to return the dress I impulse-bought a few days ago. Yes, and yes.
My friend on the phone at 2AM pressed me to share my thoughts anyway. “You have a good heart, and a good God. I trust that combination.”
I told him that I do not lose sleep over who wins the election. I know this sounds horrible, but bear with me for a moment. I certainly do have an opinion on who I think should be our next President. I do. I am invested in this whole process; I am not a bystander. I am not as vocal as some people are, or as other people would like me to be.
“Here is what it comes down to for me,” I told him.
“No matter who is President, I will still be able to love my little microcosm of the world.”
This is all I’ve really ever wanted, to impact the people in my reach with great amounts of love and care. Whether it is Hillary, or Donald, or Gary, or Jill, or the meteor (I have seen the stickers), my heart will still work the same on the evening of November 8th as it did before any ballots were cast. I will still be able to love the people in my world no matter who is President. If I am being honest, the biggest thing on my radar right now is that my roommate’s divorce is final this week, and I want to make sure she feels safe and held and loved and valuable. There is also, yes, the election.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there are things about both of the prominent candidates that make me turn my head to the side and wonder about them as human beings. There are things Hillary has done that make me wince as someone who values honesty, and there are things that Donald has said that offend me deeply as a survivor of sexual assault and as a woman whose loved ones are members of minority populations. There are people who think that Donald should be our next President and can cite sources on why, and there are people who can do the same thing with Hillary. And the meteor, probably. I have always been one to try and examine both sides but there are, admittedly, gaps in my knowledge.
But, I am not as concerned with these issues as I am with how to be the best ambassador of love and grace and support to the people in my life. For example, I used to be against abortion. I really did. I thought it was an awful idea. I couldn’t imagine how anyone could bear the thought of aborting a fetus. I really could not—until a woman I loved and respected and valued very much sat with me in my kitchen one morning and told me that she had initiated an abortion a few days ago. She told me horrible stories. She told me that some of her closest friends had alienated her, claiming that she was going to hell, that she was a murderer, that she was an abomination. These friends also claimed to love Jesus. This was a point of confusion to me. I will never really understand how a person can claim to be an emulator of Christ and also throw such shame on a person in the same breath.
Anyway, I realized that I had a decision to make. I could make her feel like crap, like all of these other people in her life were, or I could love her well where she was. I could pick up a pitchfork and join the angry masses, or I could tell her that there was plenty of love and grace and forgiveness available to her. If she was deciding if she should have an abortion or not, I would have wanted her to know that she would not be alone if she decided to keep the baby and the father wanted nothing to do with it. I would want her to know that I would be there for her every step of the way during her pregnancy, and that I would adopt the baby if no one else would. I would have helped her explore her options. And if the option she decided was best for her life was abortion, I would love her through that, too. I got this from one of my heroes, Glennon Doyle Melton, and I trust the way her heart works.
So, I woke early a few days later and drove my friend to her abortion follow-up appointment. We made a day out of it. I cannot really tell you about it, so as to protect her identity here, but just know that we had good food and fun and we laughed, even though we cried some, too. I like to think that it eased the pain somewhat. It turns out that I was not so much against abortion as I was for my own experience. I always appreciate it when God gives me an opportunity for my heart to stretch and expand.
The issues in this election matter to me. They do. But making sure that people feel like they are worthy of love and acceptance and grace and forgiveness is more important. Caring for the marginalized is one of my favorite pastimes, and it looks like I will have a lot of that on my plate no matter who becomes our next President.
Is this a cop-out? Some people will think that. Thank you for sharing. All I’m saying is that we will be able to love our microcosms well no matter what happens next week, and this is sort of my anchor and safe haven right now.