*edit – almost immediately after publishing this post, I received critically important and helpful feedback from some kind folks on Twitter. So I changed the title and made a few edits, because this election DOES matter. The future of America DOES matter. I tried to keep things vague and tidy the first time around, but vague and tidy just doesn’t work during election season. So I took things in a different direction, a topic on which I’m pretty proficient and a direction in which I feel safe leading my readers. Thanks for being such a part of this process!
I love politics. I discovered NPR my freshman year of college and I haven’t recovered since. I’ve always had this desire to know a little bit about a lot of things. I’m almost positive it stems from sin – fear of failure, and desire for approval, and maybe a little pride thrown in. But the genuine thirst for knowledge is real and I’m grateful the Lord put that in me. So I listen, and I read, and how many times do I have to say I love Twitter? I’m a millennial – of COURSE I get my news from social media!
I’ve voted Republican and I’ve voted Democrat, and I’ve never been totally satisfied with either party’s platforms. And that’s okay. Nobody gets it perfectly. No party gets it perfectly. We are sinful and greedy and easily corrupted. This world began falling apart the moment sin entered the world and it won’t stop decaying until Jesus comes back to fix it once and for all. Even in the waiting, I’m still grateful to be an American who loves the democratic process.
I know elections are exhausting to watch. Your brain hurts from all of the ads and your Facebook feeds are probably tired. But here’s why I think it matters to follow politics and current events, both in America and around the world – because God says to look. Both the Old and the New Testaments are filled with examples of God’s desire for us to keep our eyes open. To perceive what he’s doing. To be in this world while not of it. To fight for truth and justice as he defines it. To bind up broken hearts and set people free. And so we listen, and we read, and we talk about it, and we rally, and we vote.
But there’s a catch. It’s easy to get burnt out. It’s easy to succumb to fear or feelings of overwhelm or hopelessness. Self-care is important. I could say I don’t get caught up in the frenzy, because I know who wins in the end and I know the God I serve cares about truth and justice even more than I do. But there’s more to it than that, on a daily, micro level. I guess when it comes down to it, I have an election self-care regimen.
I refuse to engage in conversations that involve hateful, damaging, fear-mongering language about the direction in which this country is headed. I thank God that I live with a black President and a woman Presidential candidate. I fact check a lot. I open my Bible each morning and look for clues on how to love people better and what God says about leadership. I click through several funny political memes per day. My favorites were from the second debate.
I gather my kids around the table and teach them how to look at the world through a viewfinder that says a man named Jesus died for it. I remind them that this includes every single person, all of the genders and all of the colors, with all of the baggage anyone cares to bring to the table. I stay off of social media at least one day per week, sometimes two. I practice saying things like, “You might be right” (thanks, Jess). I pray for more humility and wisdom. I bite my tongue more now than I ever have in my life. I also speak up more than I ever have in my life. Because there is a time for everything, and this matters.