I often get the dizzying sense that I am alone in this, in my feelings of confusion, tension, overwhelm. That everyone else–through magic, greater faith or a singular news source–is confident, certain, right and that only one party has the corner on God and on good.
But just in case I am not alone, this is for you.
I just want to say this: it’s okay. It’s okay to feel lonely and sad and unsure today. It’s okay to feel like you are disowning or disappointing someone today. It’s okay to sit in the tension and feel the weight of it. It’s okay to admit that you don’t know, that you want better.
It’s okay to ask questions that you haven’t considered before, to not be what you once were. And it’s okay that once you know differently, to do differently.
Invite your convictions to sit next to confusion, let them become unlikely friends. Pour them a cup of coffee, they may be together for awhile.
You are not black or white, red or blue. You are not defined by a bubble on a ballot. You are far too gorgeous and human and exquisite for that.
I guess what I’m saying is that it is okay to be gray. And it’s okay to vote anyway.
So whether you are voting confidently or with a heavy heart today, just remember this: our neighbors who choose to vote conservative are not evil. Our neighbors who choose to vote liberal are not evil.
They are simply our neighbors.
The same neighbors we have been called to love as ourselves. They hold stories that brought them to stand in a booth and scribble in a different circle than the one you chose, maybe they colored it hard and dark and sure, or maybe their hand trembled a bit. Like mine.
If you voted conservative today because of your deep sense of protection for the vulnerable lives unborn, for the freedoms you hold dear, for the sake of your faith: I get it. I see you. I hear you.
If you voted liberal today because of your deep sense of protection for the vulnerable lives of immigrants, women, for the freedoms you hold dear, for the sake of your faith: I get it. I see you. I hear you.
Can we can all lean in a bit closer today? Can we vote as those who have not lost their hope or salt or light?
Because if the elusive “they” get us to lose our humanity, our curiosity, our softness: that’s when we have truly lost.
So here is the only platform I have found sturdy enough for the weight of today: let’s vote, repent, and then get off our knees and into our community to help, to listen, to do something that puts a pit in our stomach and hope in our heart because it is new or different or hard. Because it forces us nearer to people who scare, worry, or upset us.
You know what prejudice cannot stand? Proximity.
Do you know what darkness cannot stand? Light.
Let’s step away from the podium and the keyboard into the arena and remember the words of Roosevelt:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood.”
So here we are. These words have wrestled their way here, to you, after a night of lost sleep, a tearful three am, a sweaty two miles and a steamy shower prayer.
(You know the kind of prayer that has no words, where you just hold your palms up as salt and soap run down?)
That means that on this Tuesday morning I have been baptized by sweat, tears and water and I still don’t feel clean. And I don’t think voting is going to get me there, to washed and whole.
But do you know what will help scrub my soul today?
The dollars traveling from our bank account to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, the babes that will eat one more meal and fall asleep in their mamas arms, content for the first night in many dark ones.
The pictures my boys drew and sent to our boys that will be arriving in time for Christmas, to South America and Africa, to hands I’ve never held and homes I’ve never sat in.
The stirring of a pot of soup and the rising of bread to feed my own family, around one table, under one roof, never not aware of our blessings.
The privilege of growing up in a home that included such ethnicity, such grief, such joy and seeing in each divisive article: their faces instead. My family. Our family.
And this slice of light, a little stronger and more radiant than the others, the one I will carry with me into this gray Tuesday, the image of my brother who has known more pain and set back and loss and rage than most, siting next to me this weekend as we traveled from his group home–driving through bluffs and field–singing more loudly than is acceptable:
Hide away, they say
‘Cause we don’t want your broken parts
I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars
Run away, they say
No one’ll love you as you are
I know that there’s a place for us.”
Oh, and you are not alone.