Well, I'm shocked.
I know that some of you will read this and be disappointed in me. Perhaps you have heard my music and have assumed that because I do, indeed, love Jesus that my political affiliation was a safe bet. I've always been amazed at what folks can find in music . . . we can find our own truth in almost anything we listen to . . . and if a writer doesn't come right out and say what they are or who they are, we can go on thinking whatever want.
Usually I find a whole lot of safety in that idea because I live in the state of Tennessee (I love it here - it's beautiful, the people really are beautiful, and it's home). Tennessee is full of folks who usually vote Republican and who largely identify with a values system that is considered to be "traditional" or "conservative." So, for the sake of peacefulness in my various work environments and for the sake of being a sort of "blank slate" in the eyes of folks who have looked to me for leadership in other ways, I've avoided ever loudly or boldly talking about my thoughts and feelings regarding politics. I have told myself that this is because it allows me to get more things done. So I've stayed as close to my prayer life as possible and have patently avoided asserting opinions about the exact nature of my politics (especially online). The few times I've ventured out, I've been immediately smacked down and have suffered damage to valued relationships. But I feel differently about it today.
So I hope that if you liked my music before . . . you'll still like it now. I'm going to tell you about part of who I really am . . . what I really am. And why.
I was with her.
Here are some complexities one might not consider about a person who might vote democratic from time to time (I have the potential to be a swing voter, being somewhat centrist) - Democrat does not equal atheist or anti-baby. It really hurts me when folks who don't know I've voted Democratic before are talking to me about their politics and, thinking I am whatever they are, tell me about all the horrible things Democrats are. Ouch. Ouch! I'm just as complicated as anybody else. You are, too. None of us are so flat and colorless that we adhere to every checked box on a handy list of political quirks. I try really hard to keep my mouth closed tight about large groups of people, including whatever political party I don't currently identify with. I don't know all of those individuals. I can't really speak to any of that. I don't want to speak to any of that.
I'm an extremely committed Christian. I am a follower of Jesus. I love God. I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit. I grew up in church - even entertained the idea of being a pastor for a number of years (United Methodists are cool with female clergy and so are Episcopals).
I love babies. I have a baby. If I could, I'd have a huge family. I'd gladly adopt 10 more children (one can dream). I want all babies to live and thrive and grow. I want their mothers and fathers to do the same. I wish that the church would step up and send loving intercession into the darkness, offering support, love, and compassion for terrified mothers who might be unwed, unemployed, raped, scared for their lives . . . I wish the church could send folks to meet those precious women who would not offer the single minded solution we've been offering. We offer to pay their medical bills and take their babies home for them . . . because what? This is going to free them? Or heal them? Or only that baby's life is precious in the eyes of God? Oh, friends. It's so much more complicated. We need adoptive families where adoption truly is the healthiest choice for everybody (I know a lot of happy adoptive families - I know you all did what was absolutely the best for your kids). We need a whole other kind of adoptive family, too, though. We need to send adoptive families to take these mothers in, to clothe them, feed them, work with them, and support them in their parenting journey. We need to be interested in healing entire families whenever we can. I have friends who have walked that difficult path and have seen it end different ways. They are so brave and so true to the love of God . . . offering all the grace they can muster to the whole person . . . the whole family. So, please . . . don't go thinking that I like the idea of abortion because I was with her. I had other reasons. And I still have a lot of faith that The Church can step up and do what no government can ever do - offer healing to a broken world, hope to broken mothers, and life to precious new children. My friends who have walked that tough road of adoption know the stories of the mothers and fathers - they understand. They grieve. They wish they could make it all better. What can we do as the Body of Christ to show the love of God when pregnancy strikes fear into the heart of a mother? How can we meet her there?
There are articles you can read that explain how medical intervention is sometimes mislabeled in this conversation about babies and pregnancy. You can find those and read them if you feel interested. I suggest it because it sheds an awful lot of light on the heart breaking reality of miscarriage and other things we have no control over. Don't let politicians put all of these things into one basket, friends. These things are so complicated. Let a doctor explain some of the intervention so you understand what has happened before a person gets there. Then feel compassion and sorrow about that. You will, I promise.
I was with her.
Because, in case you hadn't picked up on it, I personally know and love an awful lot of gay people. There. I said it plain and simple. I have someone in my very own family, my own flesh and blood, who I love and am proud of. He's gay. It was never hidden from me and I'm so glad. I grew up knowing from my folks that this beloved family member was a unique person like everybody else and that this part of his life was not something to be ashamed of - that it was part of the beautiful complexity of who he was and is. Thanks, mom and dad, for keeping that dialogue open. I don't know if he'll read this, but just in case he does - Thanks, Uncle Frank, for being yourself. I'm proud to say that you're part of my family. I'm proud that you came out. I'm proud of your beautiful preaching, your musicianship, and the broad ministry you've provided to so many.
While I'm at it - Josh, I love you. Megan, I love you. Heather, I love you. I love your families. I love that some of you are raising beautiful children. I love that you're together and healthy. I love that you love the Lord. I'm sorry. So, so sorry. I can't make this better. But I'll write as much music as I can to say what ought to be said and I won't put down my pen or shut my mouth or close the lid on my piano.
I was with her.
I used to play Wednesday night worship services for women who were serving the last portion of their prison sentences in a special facility. I loved that. I loved being with them. I got to know them and they got to know me. I was humbled by that experience and saw the face of Jesus as we shared bread and conversation and prayer. I was reminded of the fact that we can't assume we know everything about everybody because of what they've done, seen, or been. I carry that truth in my heart even today. It keeps me close to the ground I'm walking on. Close to the floor. Humiliated by God's audacious love. Never assume that God doesn't love whoever is other! God made that person! We can't comprehend the love God has for them.
I was with her.
I've taught my fair share of children who've come from foreign countries and I have been to see what life looks like in little corners of nations where folks can't vote like we can. I've lost friends in combat. I've listened to the sorrow in the voices of old men who helped build the bomb back when it was still a big secret. So much heart break. So complex.
I was with her.
Because I've been pushed around by a man who thought I should belong to him. I've experienced fear and shame and isolation disguised as something else. Having an excellent and kind husband is a marvelous gift, but that past will always be part of my story.
I was with her because I didn't know what else to be in the face of my own life experience.
I cannot speak to your life experience, reader. Your life experience is valid in its own way. I'm just telling you about mine. I'm not saying you should agree with me or even that you should respect anything I've shared. I'm just sharing.
We're so complicated.
We will continue being complicated.
And today I'd like to say a huge thank-you to my friends who probably voted differently than I did, who definitely knew me well enough to know how I voted, and who chose to hug me today and to tell me that they loved me . . . who have had open, calm conversations with me . . . who are also complex and fluid in their own way. Thank you for being yourselves. I value you, too. Thank you for accepting me, my humanity, and for showing respect toward my choices and feelings.
To my friends who are afraid and sad today - I'm so sorry. Even though I have enjoyed a life experience full of diversity through relationship, I've grown up white, Christian, with two parents, in a stable home where financial worries weren't so heavy. I've had it easy. There's no way for me to put on your shoes long enough to really understand the depth and the weight of your feelings today. I'm praying for life, love, and peace. I'm praying for courage. I'm praying for the face of Jesus to be seen in every corner of every situation.
Now . . . I've been very honest about some things. That's called vulnerability. I've not name called anybody - I don't like doing that. I've not said anything about the actual political outcome here. I've told you a bit of a story. It's a story I've largely safe-guarded because I've feared the loss of friendship, respect, etc. Well . . . there it all is. It's part of who I am as a result of the life I've lived. Your choices are that for you. Unique. Different. I can respect you in your uniqueness. I offer that to you, reader.
Next week I'll write music. This week? Let's just put one foot in front of the other for now.